Bret Stephens: Hi, Gail. It was a no good, very bad week for the “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” who happens to be the 46th president. If you were his closest friend, what advice would you give him?
Gail Collins: Oh gosh, Bret. We’re talking of course about the report a Justice Department special counsel filed on President Biden’s handling of classified material — the same kind of material Donald Trump left piled around the toilet.
Bret: I used to joke that Trump’s behavior gave new meaning to the term “anal retentive.” Maybe we can start describing Biden as “mnemonically challenged.”
Gail: While Trump’s behavior with classified documents was inexcusable, Joe Biden’s was a lot less serious — inadvertently leaving stuff in the garage. But the counsel who cleared Biden of any serious misbehavior — a Republican — did seem to feel compelled to add that Biden’s excuse was “diminished faculties in advancing age.”
Bret: Hang on. Robert Hur, the special counsel, might be a Republican, but he was appointed to his job by Merrick Garland, Biden’s attorney general. And Hur’s report found evidence that Biden willfully retained classified documents and even shared some of them with a ghostwriter, something that caused a huge uproar last year when it turned out that Trump was sharing his own classified docs with a writer.
Gail: I repeat: Biden made a mistake by not carefully curating those documents, but it doesn’t rank up there with stashing them all around the guest bathroom.
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