Michael Brendan Dougherty writes for National Review Online about the mounting evidence that an aging Joe Biden has no business holding the most powerful elected office in the free world. That evidence extends beyond Biden’s shockingly poor performance in last week’s debate with his predecessor and potential successor, Donald Trump.

We had heard various rumors from senators that “access” to president Biden had been very limited, even since the pandemic. But the extent of it is just becoming known in a flurry of reporting occasioned by Joe Biden’s scandalously incoherent debate performance last Thursday.

Before Thursday, I believed that Joe Biden was too old to be president. That he was too unreliable mentally and physically. And that he could not be counted on to be fully “present” in a crisis. But, for the number of times he had surpassed expectations in public appearances, I allowed that he might still in some way be the president. After Thursday, I don’t think that’s tenable.

And now, again thanks to Alex Thompson at Axios, the details are pouring in:

Biden’s behavior stunned many in the White House in part because Biden’s closest aides — often led by Jill Biden’s top aide, Anthony Bernal, and deputy chief of staff Annie Tomasini — took steps early in his term to essentially rope off the president.

Thompson clarified, in a subsequent CNN appearance, that Biden really doesn’t spend all that much time with senior staff, including cabinet officials.

The whole point of democratic and republican government is to avoid being governed by an unknown vizier or prince regent. Hardly any Americans have ever heard of Anthony Bernal or Annie Tomasini, yet they seem to control access to the president to an unusual degree.

Again, I ask the self-appointed defenders of democracy: What exactly are you defending these days?