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Biden’s Cognitive Health Being Questioned Ahead of NATO Summit

The White House is doing everything it can to deflect questions about President Biden’s cognitive health ahead of the NATO summit in Washington over July 9-11. “Look, foreign leaders have seen Joe Biden up close and personal for the last three years,” said a senior administration official, briefing reporters on background yesterday, responding to one such question. “They know who they’re dealing with, and, you know, they know how effective he’s been. What the President has done over the last three years is to reinvigorate the NATO Alliance, including expanding it, making it more capable. He has stood up to President Putin’s unprecedented aggression against Ukraine by mobilizing a coalition of—minimum of 50 Allies and partners to provide capabilities to Ukraine. And he has worked to invigorate our partnerships around the world, including in the Indo-Pacific and in other regions. So, I’m just going to leave it at that.”

CNN, in a report posted several hours earlier, highlighted the worries of NATO leaders coming to Washington for the summit. “When dozens of world leaders convene in Washington, D.C., for the NATO 75th anniversary summit next week, they won’t only be looking to underscore the unity of the Alliance—they will also be carefully watching U.S. President Joe Biden after his poor debate performance last week,” the network reported. “Biden’s showing at the CNN presidential debate was met with shock and concern by diplomats around the world. Now, the President will be under immense pressure to perform well at the high-stakes gathering and show that he is still a viable competitor to former President Donald Trump, multiple diplomats told CNN.”

CNN cites unnamed diplomats saying that the chances of Biden making a major blunder at the NATO summit are limited, but one European diplomat said that, even if Biden does well: “This will still leave doubt,” given how poorly he performed at the debate. “If there is another clear failure, this will feed into the ‘crisis mood.’”

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, in a column posted on July 4, reported that those fears are not limited to the Europeans. He cited one unnamed senior Biden administration official who had been involved in the planning as saying that the NATO summit will be a moment of trepidation and peril. “Every European eye will be on Biden, wondering whether he can recover physically and politically,” Ignatius writes. “The summit has gone from an orchestrated spectacle to one of the most anxious gatherings in modern times,” said the official.