Like President Reagan said, trust but verify


I confess that once you’re in your 80s, you suffer from a variety of ills, major and minor.

I’m lucky that the major ones are under control and that I am happily dealing only with a few minor ones, such as an arthritic knee. It’s that knee that triggers this discussion about knees, and fantasies.

A few weeks ago, I crossed paths with an old friend from my Long Beach days. He noticed me limping down a nearby flight of stairs and asked about my health. I told him that I was dealing with the pain of arthritis in the knee, and was undergoing some treatment. I thought that was the end of the discussion until two weeks later, when I met a friend who happens to be in the same business as my old Long Beach buddy.

The first words out of his mouth were, “I heard you were in a wheelchair because of some knee issue.” I assured him that the rumor was just that, but for that instant I felt sorry for President Biden, who on a daily basis is dealing with these types of gross exaggerations. In my case, my ailments will in no way interfere with my political career, because it is long gone. But poor Biden must deal with this stuff and it isn’t funny.

In the course of one week — well before last week’s debate with Donald Trump — Biden had to face multiple false claims about his sanity, made by a political underground that thrives on destroying reputations to help Trump. During his trip to Normandy, France, to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Biden, surrounded by European officials, left the group to greet some paratroopers, and the opposition cropped his photo and claims he wandered off in some type of lost moment.

In another photo of the president that got the attention of the opposition, he stood in a crowd swaying to music, and because he didn’t sway, he must have be caught in some type of moment. By now, the much-heralded first presidential debate will have taken place, so I am in no position to have handicapped that event to determine who came off the worst. I leave that decision to the political pundits.

Which leads me to the case of Trump. In recent weeks he has made more than his share of missteps, but somehow his acolytes can see no wrong. He can rant endlessly about washing machines, electric submarines and sharks and it attracts no criticism from his supporters. He recalls beating President Barack Obama in the 2016 election and his defenders claim it’s just Donald being Donald.

He recently spoke about getting migrants to take part in a “migrant league of fighters,” and suggested that the champion might beat the champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. His remarks do bring back memories of his involvement in the World Wrestling Federation, which became World Wresting Entertainment, but that’s just more word salad from the master word chef.

Trump’s repeated call for Biden to take the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, which Trump claims he “aced,” are totally off base, because, according to Dr. Daniela Lamas of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, it isn’t an aptitude test, but rather a screening test for dementia or other cognitive decline. Picking out a whale a dog or a cow doesn’t reflect genius.

There are countless other examples of the gotchas that the candidates can roll out to cut the legs off of their opponents. Some observers claim that Trump’s missteps far outweigh and outnumber Biden’s. To his credit, Biden has not taken on the strange Trump antics, leaving that to the media police.

We still have months to go before Nov. 5, so for now, don’t swallow everything you see on the political scene. In the words of the great President Ronald Reagan, “Trust, but verify.”

Jerry Kremer was an Assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column?