Joe Biden has always been a gaffe machine, but this time it seems different. He’s in the 9th inning of his political career, and doubt are rising as to whether he’s up to the task.

Of course those criticisms are coming from the right, with The Federalist and Washington Free Beacon, among others, gleefully churning out lists Biden’s recent gaffes.

Republican SuperPACs are taking video notes:

But the problem runs deeper than Joe-being-Joe — Biden is also being criticized by the left. A Buzzfeed analysis by its reporter covering Biden in Iowa wrote about The Uneasiness Of Joe Biden’s Presidential Campaign Is About More Than The Gaffes. The reporter described how at times “Biden’s gravitas gave way to rambling” raising concerns:

It can be easy to miss and hard to put your finger on, especially when Biden leads the Democratic presidential field in polling and puts on his aviator-clad frontrunner’s face. But Biden presents with a vibe of doubt. He can come across as a candidate who’s worried that he’s running out of time — and that he’s wasting yours. And he’s not always sure how to make the most of it.

Even deeper, it calls into question whether Joe is up for the job, the Buzzfeed reporter wrote:

And sometimes Biden says the wrong thing. Many dispatches from the Iowa trip dwelled on his verbal blunders here.

He botched a line from his stump speech at the state fair. (“We choose truth over facts.”) He told the Asian & Latino Coalition audience that “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids” before catching himself and adding “wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids.” He also blanked for a second when he seemed to confuse former British prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. Two days later, at a forum on gun control, he talked about Parkland again and recalled meeting with the survivors when he was vice president. But the high school shooting happened more than a year after Biden left office. His staff later explained he had meant the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Connecticut.

“Wouldn’t it be nice,” his deputy campaign manager tweeted, “to have a president who consoles Americans in their time of need so often that he sometimes mistakes the timing?”

The slipups make it convenient to question if Biden, at 76, is up for the job. Trump, 73, has jumped on them. “Does anybody really believe he is mentally fit to be president?” Trump asked Sunday.

Vice also is writing about how Iowa Democrats Are Getting Nervous About Biden’s Trail of Gaffes:

Former Vice President Joe Biden delivered a series of verbal fumbles and gaffes during his longest swing to date through Iowa, providing fodder for President Trump’s accusations that he’s slipped mentally and left some local Democrats worried that he’s lost a step….

“It’s dangerous territory, obviously. It plays into the narrative that Donald Trump would like to create about him,” said Grant Woodard, a Des Moines-based Democratic power player and former congressional chief of staff. “His greatest asset in this race is he’s perceived to be the most electable in the general election and these unforced errors he creates undermine that argument.”

Other Democrats in the state privately expressed concerns about Biden’s gaffes and what they meant, though many didn’t want to take potshots on-record to fuel a narrative they saw as beneficial to Trump.

“Joe’s too old,” one unaligned Iowa Democratic official told VICE News.

Even The New York Times sounds a siren of concern:

Some of his advisers said in interviews that they were privately nervous that his recent gaffe spree would become cemented into the larger narrative of the presidential race. They also say that Mr. Biden faces an unfair double standard.

Yet there is a real political risk for Mr. Biden. Some party activists have already been worried that, at 76, he may be too old to go toe-to-toe with Mr. Trump, who is 73, and win. If the accumulation of verbal missteps continues, some Democrats say, it will eventually sow doubts about what many primary voters believe is Mr. Biden’s biggest strength: that he is best positioned to beat Mr. Trump.

Biden is doing well in the polls, but it’s long race. And once a narrative takes hold, it may be hard to stop. And if the narrative is one of unelectability versus Trump, that removes the very reason for Biden’s polling strength, New York Magazine notes:

Despite his strong polling lead in Iowa and on the national level, some local party figures expressed concern this weekend about Biden’s onstage performance and the notion of his electability. (As the candidate characterized himself in December: “I am a gaffe machine.”) “He isn’t as compelling verbally,” the Madison County party chairman told the Washington Post. “There is starting to be a real fear that he cannot hold his own in the debate against Donald Trump.” The party chair from Grundy County wished “he’d get his mojo back,” and reminisced over the Biden of 2012, when he debated vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan.

It’s the ninth inning. Joe Biden needs to bring his A game. His unrelenting gaffes may be as sign that he doesn’t have an A game.

 
 
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