Joseph Biden lately has been ill-tempered about two intertwined storylines. Lots of Democrats do not wish him to seek a second term, and longstanding speculation about whether he is showing age-related decline is increasingly at the center of his coverage.

“Read the polls, Jack. You guys are all the same,” Biden lectured a reporter who asked about his weakening support among Democrats.

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In some accounts, that snappish response was itself cited as possible evidence of diminished faculties. That seems distinctly unfair. Biden’s resentment of his weakened political standing — both the coverage and the underlying reality — is entirely rational. It is evidence of a cogent mind, rather than a fogged one.

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