Monday, July 1, 2024

Biden is faltering, but what he represents remains strong

     People try to "live in the moment" without realizing what that really means. Living in the moment is fine if, at the moment, you are hiking in the Colorado Rockies, pausing to sip cool water and admire the vista.
     But how often are you living in that moment?
     My father, Robert Steinberg, 91, lives in what I call "the immediate moment." Whatever is happening right now is all there is or can be.
     There is no past — his 30 years as a nuclear physicist at NASA have vanished.
     There is no future. He has no volition. There is nothing he wants to do. He won't be attending my older son's wedding next month — the crowd would confuse and frighten him.
     There really isn't much of a present, either. A sofa. A television. And if I'm there too, I also exist, for the moment.
     "How's the world treating you, Neil?" he'll ask, and I'll tell him. It's the only thing he says to me, those exact words. Over and over. I think of those cheap little music boxes, with a cylinder plucking metal tines. Turn the tiny crank and a dozen notes of "Pop Goes the Weasel" tinkle out: ba-dump ba-dump, ba-daddidy dump ...
     No shame in that. Just nature taking her course. But to not recognize what has happened would be irresponsible. My father holds patents in nuclear reactor design, but I would not ask him to design a nuclear reactor now, nor would I want to live near one he had worked on recently.
     At some point, responsible parties must close the door. Three years ago, my father was driving the car, despite my telling my mother, repeatedly, "He's going to kill a child in a crosswalk and it's going to be your fault." When we moved them to Belmont Village Senior Living in Buffalo Grove, we sold their car.

To continue reading, click here.


  1. Mr. S,
    I respectfully disagree . We cannot become as them. We must not. A principled stance must be taken . I will vote for a leader , not someone diminished by time , propped up as a figurehead of a great team.

    Reagan became mostly incapacitated and nodded in agreement to Nancy. No longer able to govern . We have the right to expect our duly elected representatives to fulfill their role and responsibilities. We are talking about the holder of the nuclear codes.

    In a world as full of threats as ours, we must insist on a fully capable leader. There should be at least one candidate that meets these criteria. Come on Jill enough of this malarky! A nation implores you . The world requires a sensible resolution of this circumstance. In short order.

    1. Maybe we should have a test for presidential aspirants, amending the Constitution to state that no otherwise qualified candidate for the presidency of the United States of America shall assume the office if unable to do the following: 1. Run a mile in 15 minutes of less; 2. Recite the Preamble to the Constitution with fewer than 5 errors; 3. Recite a poem of at least 10 stanzas of the candidate's choosing with fewer than 3 errors; 4. Give a cogent explanation of the Law against Perpetuities; 5. Name all his first cousins with the State of their residence without error; 6. Enumerate the qualities of a basic natural element chosen by a member of the opposing political party; 7. Give a short explanation of the basic differences between the candidate's party goals and his major opponents' goals; 8. Describe how the candidate would act if given unlimited discretion; 9. Recite the 20 numbers preceding a chosen number backwards without error; 10. Describe the Vice President's qualifications for assuming the Presidency should it become necessary.

      Or something like that...


  2. It's a simple choice to make in November. Between a decent man who wants to better this country, its people & the world, or a monster, that is out only to enrich himself & has admired scum like Hitler, Putin, Kim Jong Un & many other vicious dictators throughout his entire rotten life!

  3. I love your perspective about your dad.

  4. The choice isn't Biden or Trump, it's Democracy or Fascism.

    I don't care what condition Biden is in, I will vote for him and by doing so vote for continuing our beloved democracy.

    A vote for Trump is a vote for a cult of personality led by a malignant narcissist who believes in not a single honorable ideal - He doesn't believe in you or me or our nation or democracy - he believes in his own interests and nothing else.

  5. Just lovely. Bring it on. I am voting for Biden no matter what

  6. Maybe it is not what we wanted or expected in this election but much of life is not what we expected or wanted.. What Biden and Trump are experiencing as they age will come to many of us. Biden is a role model, living with courage, stamina, and grace. Go Biden!

  7. I love the way you have honored your father in so many ways. Even now, deep inside the diminished man who remains, one hopes he still feels the pride.

  8. Remember the term 'yellow dog Democrat?' I will vote for a dead and rotting dog before I will vote to Trump. Biden is good and decent and effective as president - and I don't care whether or not he can trade barbs with a psychopathic narcissist.

  9. Well. Though we view the circumstances similarly, I lack your inward calm. I envy you that. I've shifted from endorsing Biden in November to supporting democracy in November. That said, I remain puzzled by how spectacularly bad things were for Biden on Thursday evening. Especially compared to the State of the Union address on March 30. Yes, he used a teleprompter then, but he responded spontaneously to heckling from the audience, and did so effectively, and with humor. He was engaged as well as energized. He also "bounced-back" within 24 hours.
    His physical presentation looked quite different, too. Aside from the fact that every single one of us should be listening to Trump's lies with our jaws hanging open, it still would have looked better if Biden had managed to keep his mouth closed for the cameras.
    I keep thinking about his cold symptoms. Cold viruses are known to temporarily affect cognition in the elderly. Add in over the counter cold medications, and forget it. It would be so ironic - and fit so well into Trump's extraodinary good luck regarding all things - if Biden took a cold capsule to clear a stuffy head, and ended up with side effects that did the opposite. Its a common side effect in the elderly.
    Someone above mentioned Reagan's cognitive decline during his final term in office. I was thinking more of George H W Bush, who was prescribed Halcion by the White House Physician, to help with sleep. Remember that? People were concerned the med was affecting his alertness and syntax. I think his final dose of Halcion was the night before he vomited in the lap of Japan's Prime Minister, then passed out. Experts later quelled the idea that Halcion had anything to do with the disruptive dinner symptoms, but the chatter about it went on, so the White House released a statement indicating that President Bush's Halcion days were over.
    I think Biden is still able to effectively lead. Apparently Trump rarely showed up to the Oval Office before noon. Biden's most decisive decisions probably happen before Trump is awake.

  10. Jill Biden said that after the debate, Joe told her he didn't know what happened, and that he didn't feel right. To me, the way he zoned out for a minute kind of looked like he could have had a mini stroke. You could have those without even realizing it. Also, Neil really resembles his dad.

  11. Biden did not offend me.

  12. I'm sorry your dad, you and family have to go through this, Neil.

  13. and to add one more note of urgency. today's supreme court's unsurprising ruling giving trump carte blanche to destroy democracy means just one thing- a trump election means the final election for years to come.

  14. Even if Biden is my only choice, I'm all in. The daily calls for him to withdraw only play into the orange bully's spiderweb. From my perspective, it is the voters who will make the final decision. It sometimes feels like the world has turned insanely upside down. NS has gotten it right on every level. Keep on fighting for Democracy or lose it. Those who use Biden's image as an old man to vote for plutocracy - or worse - are seemingly blind to what is at stake in this election. NS has said it all before, but one of my existential concerns is what happens to the Supreme Court after Nov. 2024?

    Anyone who thinks that optics are more important than principled sanity are going to be greatly disappointed if they fail to vote for Biden or anyone else the Democrats replace him with. Thanks Neil. Take good care of you dad. He's still amazing.

  15. Very sorry to read about your father, Mr. S. We are dealing with my wife’s older brother, and what you described is all too familiar. He has the same symptoms. His forty years as a union electrician (IBEW, Local 38) are history. Now he can barely turn on a wall switch.

    His wife is his caregiver. Also his nurse, and his home health aide. Use your imagination. No outside help. My wife helps her out. So do her sons. And her friends.

    My brother-in-law almost never leaves the house. He sits on the couch, but he can’t keep up with TV. He can still read, and likes big coffee-table books with big illustrations. Ballparks. National parks. American history. His 85th birthday and 60th wedding anniversary were both on May 2. There was a party. He had the same look on his face that Joe had.

    Call me a shmuck. Many do. But I’m still ridin’ with Biden, despite the pothole he hit last week. I want to believe it was the meds he was taking, and no more. Should they take the keys away? I’m staying in the car until that happens. I don’t want it to happen. I’m in that snappy convertible of his for the long haul. Been in it for ten years.

    If a new driver is needed, I’ll still be along for the ride. Sniffy cannot be allowed to become 45-47. Gonna do whatever it takes, by any means necessary. Any means. A lot of people, myself included, just want to see him die. Maybe some of that karma came back to slap down Joe. You never know.

    It’s no longer merely doing it for Joe Biden, but also for all the things that Joe and his party represent. We're doing it for us. As in U.S. People have sometimes questioned why my wife and her family have gone to such great lengths to assist her brother, and before that, her mother…for twelve long years. My wife's answer has always been the same: “It’s what you do.”

    And that should be the same answer for all of us: It's what you do. Don't mourn...organize. Work. Vote. Keep calm. Carry on. Like the signs in WWII London said: “Freedom is in Peril…Defend it With All Your Might.” There is no other choice.

  16. When the Supremes came to work this morning, they should have been greeted by throngs of concerned Americans blocking their path. Perhaps us dreamers can see that happen the first Monday in October, but Boomers have given up or sold out, so it will remain a fantasy. Hopefully it won't be a prelude Satans ascension. In the meantime, Neil , on your visits, tell your dad old family stories. Every so often you might get a smile or two.

    1. Why are Boomers being blamed, yet again, for more bad juju?
      Ageism...the last acceptable expression of bigotry.
      We didn't start the fire.

    2. Thank you, Grizz, for defending Boomers' honor. Now is not the time for fractious, generational schisms. Boomers may be over-represented on NS's blog, but we have neither given up nor sold out. We vote, in high percentages! And we welcome ALL generations to join us in the election booth.

    3. Thank you. I confront ageist haters--no matter where I encounter them.
      Racism, sexism, lookism, fat-shaming, hate crimes...all are taboo now.
      So that ageism bird won't least, not on my watch. It's what I do.

  17. I am voting for Biden However a decent person would not be supporting a genocide. A decent person would not have kept Assange languish in Belmarsh prison. Of course there were all sorts off violations which should have caused his release.

  18. One of Neil’s best columns ever (since I’ve been reading him). A great parable for the disaster we all witnessed Thursday. Yet, In lifting the curtain about his diminished father and the burden son Neil so willingly accepts, aren’t we asking the same of the Bidens - to show us all the decline so apparent in our President? But don’t expect me to take four years of repeated “How are you doing today, America.” The stakes are too important. I didn’t vote for Jill Biden to become President, along with a cabal of unknown manipulators. Just like I didn’t vote for Nancy Reagan to run the Oval Office after her husband was shot and later when his mind ebbed. If Biden stays the course, a vote for him will be a vote for Kamala Harris because there’s no way he’ll finish his term.


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.