I wrote about Joe Biden in 2006, when I heard him on "Imus In The Morning." For context, we have not had a TV since 1979, and even to this day the only video I have seen of most political and other popular figures has been linked from other sites. Even those I tend not to click, because I believe strongly in the ability of those who seek to be leaders to hack into our sentiments and tell us what we want to hear. When I blogged years ago about Watshisname who talks about "game" and how to hack into female responses so guys can have sex with them I recall thinking "that isn't the half of it. That is doubly true of entertainers and talking heads and triply of politicians, especially among the supposed elites." I assume their ability to fool is at least as good as my ability to see through them, so I try to rely solely on the written word.
At the time, I was impressed with how sharp and persuasive Biden was, and that I believed him while listening to him. I thought he was deceptive and dishonest and criticised him on those grounds but acknowledged his persuasiveness. Two years later I wrote about him again, also entitling it "The Voice of Saruman." At that time also I noted that he lied like a rug (as fisked by honest liberal Mickey Kaus), but mentioned that in the context of this guy sounds really sincere and intelligent, but beware, it is not so.
There is debate even among Biden's detractors that he has always been this way, making inaccurate statements and ridiculous gaffes. Others say there is something new here, he was not ever thus. Defenders and semi-defenders claim that these statements are okay if you are generous about looking at his intent and getting it correct based on something that is true at two removes. Before exiting from that discussion, I will note that this is exactly what I have been saying about Trump for five years. Most of what people are "just sure" they know to be true about what Trump has said doesn't seem so bad if one applies that Biden standard that we have been applying for at least 32 years years to Joe (second link). That bar is so low, and I felt it was inadequate enough for a president that I did not vote for Trump in 2016, instead squandering it on Egg McMuffin, who has turned out to be a crazy person. Yet I have to say, that if your objection to Trump is that you have to squint and throw up your hands and make excuses because what he says is only cousin to the truth, that Biden's statements are second-cousin-to-the-truth, at best. Denethor (or perhaps from the emotional side, Theoden?) is ultimately not Saruman, however infuriating you may find him to be.
But back to the main point, which is whether Biden is as sharp as he used to be. I am not a student of the man, and it may be that he has always made gaffes. But with plagiarims so strong in his history, I suggest that bullshit is more the issue with Joe, and I am supplying pretty emphatic data points from 1988, 2006, and 2008 to support my claim. He used to be a persuasive, well-spoken liar. He can't even do that anymore. Ann Althouse notes that he is as good as ever at being evasive. As confabulation can persist well into dementia, I am not impressed. Which is not to say that Biden has dementia. I have not watched him nor listened to him nor followed the links trying to show how much he has lost it. I am agnostic on the subject. I note that professionals in geriatric medicine are not weighing in at the moment, which is proper. But I have caught the back-and-forth arguments defending him against the charge, and those do not pass muster. His defenders may be correct about him, but their arguments are bad.