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Are we allowed to whisper about the transition to President Harris?

Not long after the Biden campaign, Democratic Party, mainstream media, academia, entertainment community and Big Tech declared that Joe Biden had defeated Donald Trump in the November election, many Biden supporters began to demand that the Trump administration immediately begin an open and honest transition process.           

Their argument was that to hold back would be irresponsible and potentially could create national security risks because Biden’s team might be dangerously out of the loop should any number of bad scenarios pop up over the horizon.  

While there was some political posturing going on, they did make a valid point. Don’t we truly want — and need — the person who is about to run the country to be in the know as soon as possible? Doesn’t the security of our nation and that of the American people always come first? So, I applauded Biden’s supporters for demanding that the Trump administration step up to the plate and acknowledge that bad things can happen if transition planning is not taken seriously.

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Just this past Monday, President-elect BidenJoe BidenCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Manchin, Biden huddle amid talk of breaking up T package Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE once again scolded the Trump Pentagon: “As I said from the beginning, we have encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget. Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility.”           

Biden is correct. It is irresponsible if his team isn’t getting all the information that it needs “in key national security areas.” That said, shouldn’t the same standard apply to the incoming administration?   

I raise that point because, also this past week, Biden made some verbal gaffes that his supporters seemed to ignore. But the health and well-being of any president also is a key to national security. No one from the left had any trouble applying that metric — or the specter of invoking the 25th Amendment — while going after President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE over the past four years.              

This has nothing to do with partisan politics and everything to do with the donkey in the room protecting Biden. There are those who don’t want it to be discussed, but eight weeks after the election, Biden still appears to display noticeable mental lapses and curious misstatements. On Tuesday, he referred to Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisOde to Mother's Day Warren says she'll run for reelection to Senate In honor of Mother's Day, lawmakers should pass the Momnibus Act MORE as “President-elect Harris” while he was reading from a teleprompter.

Now, we all make misstatements and have occasional memory lapses. Yet it’s also a medical fact that memory lapses and mental confusion can increase with age. Before, during and after the election, Biden made a number of gaffes that perhaps we should not ignore or deny as we prepare to inaugurate the oldest president in our history. 

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At 78, Biden is almost a decade older than Ronald Reagan was when he took office 40 years ago.  In fact, Reagan completed his second term at age 77. I mention Reagan because, having worked in his White House, I remember many people from the left declaring their concern about the cognitive abilities of a then-69-year-old man. So, if age 69 is fair game, what about 78? What is the chronological number where it becomes permissible to talk about what aging does to the mind?           

This is not about the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency. The voters elected him and Vice President-elect Harris, and they have a right to govern our nation as they see best. Rather, this is about the need to talk openly about the possibility of another political transition once a senior citizen takes over the Oval Office.           

If 2020 proved anything, it is that we live in a dangerous, unpredictable world. For that reason — and others — we need a president who is up to meeting any challenge. Might that mean that we’ll see Harris step into the presidency before the end of Biden’s term? It’s a possibility that both Democrats and Republicans are whispering about.

Biden’s team was correct to call out the Trump administration for slow-walking or denying access to information during what should be a logical transition. Now it must hold itself accountable on that subject if the Biden presidency enters uncharted territory.

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.