Nikki Haley came out today with a bold statement: that she believes older politicians should have to take a cognitive test to maintain their positions. While speaking with David Brody on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Haley was posed a question regarding the mental health and wellbeing of President Joe Biden. She shared her thoughts on the matter, saying, “Rather than making this about a person, we seriously need to have a conversation that if you’re gonna have anyone above a certain age in a position of power — whether it’s the House, whether it’s the Senate, whether it’s vice president, whether it’s president — you should have some sort of cognitive test.”
It seems that this was a way to imply Biden is too old to be fit for office while keeping her hands clean. What an interesting take from a woman who actively supported and worked under the self-described “stable genius” Donald Trump! To imply our president is unfit is a serious allegation, but less so when the accuser worked and campaigned for an administration of an accused serial sexual abuser (although he denies all allegations against him) who is only three years younger than Biden.
Haley continued, “He keeps giving signals that he’s not with us. So it’s not people hating Biden, it’s Biden really showing the country that he’s not totally in charge, and that makes everyone nervous.”
It’s clear to me that her comments have partisan motives, but as American politics move closer to political theater every day, it’s almost to be expected. To add insult to injury, Haley then compared cognitive tests to the routine release of politicians’ tax returns… which Donald Trump still has yet to do.
As evidenced by the January 6th riots at the Capitol building and the bizarre conspiracy that Donald Trump would be reinstated as president in August of 2021, the right has become increasingly susceptible to disinformation. Under the guidance of Fox News, the truth has become a spectrum rather than absolute — so much so that a lawyer defending Tucker Carlson won a case because “no reasonable viewer” would take Carlson’s show seriously. Haley is too smart to not know this; in fact, I’d say she’s banking on it. She knows her audience and what they seek: conspiracy, agitation, and entertainment. She knows what will outrage the left (like the tax return comparison) and get her name trending, much like Ted Cruz and his Zodiac Killer jokes or Majorie Taylor Greene saying or doing the myriad of disingenuous things she says and does. It’s outrageous marketing, plain and simple, for the sake of the 24-hour media machine.
Truth has been destabilized: Two out of three American adults claim that fake news leaves them confused about basic facts. Politicians and political actors, it seems, are no longer concerned with the needs of their constituency, but rather what will get them views, clicks, likes, and shares.
There’s no way in hell Nikki Haley actually believes that Joe Biden isn’t a fit president, but accusing him of such to an audience of older, right-wing people will certainly benefit her career and up her visibility. She’s far from the only one playing this game, but she’s very good at it. The question is: Who, other than politicians, does this benefit?
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