The Slatest for Feb. 9: Joe Biden Has Always Been Gaffe-y. So How Bad Is This, Really?

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It’s been a gaffe-filled week for Joe Biden—and to top it all off, a report from the DOJ special counsel tasked with investigating the president’s handling of classified documents landed on Thursday making some pretty scathing comments about Biden’s age and his memory. (“A real widening-gyre situation,” as Ben Mathis-Lilley puts it.) So how bad is all this for Biden, really? Mathis-Lilley examines the situation from all angles.

Dennis Aftergut and Frederick Baron consider the special counsel’s remarks from a legal perspective and conclude that it was a political hit job.

And, on the other hand, Biden is really not doing himself any favors politically even when he’s not misspeaking. Susan Rinkunas lays out why his references to “abortion on demand” are not helping.

Two separate images of Putin and Tucker Carlson placed side by side. Putin has a wry smile on his face and Tucker has a huge goofy grin.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Alexander Kazakov/Pool/AFP via Getty Images and Ian Maule/Getty Images.

… was even worse than expected! Where to begin? Fred Kaplan thoroughly unpacks the many things wrong with Putin’s monologue about Russian history, through which Tucker Carlson sat “listening with the expression of a listless undergrad who wondered if he’d stumbled into the wrong seminar.”

The New York Times suggests that tons of teens might regret transitioning genders. Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, an epidemiologist who spends a lot of time fact-checking things people say about science, breaks down what the data actually says.

Chief Justice John Roberts smiling with the Supreme Court at his back.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/Getty Images and Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images.

The conservative justices of the U.S. Supreme Court generally have a lot of gall these days. But when they had to consider whether Trump should be disqualified from appearing on the ballot over his involvement in Jan. 6, they were suddenly very circumspect about just how much they don’t know.

“Call it judicial cowardice or call it long-lost judicial humility, but the consensus view among the justices was that a lack of uniformity, coherence, and certainty—as well the fear of vexatious acts and petty mischief—precluded the court from allowing the words of the 14th Amendment’s Section 3 to mean what they say,” Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern write. They reflect on how the justices sure picked a curious moment to embrace humility.

Stunning allegations against Vince McMahon have rocked the wrestling world. Abraham Josephine Riesman spoke to Bret “the Hitman” Hart about why the WWE star stayed loyal to McMahon for so many years—and why this latest development is a bridge too far.

And speaking of WWE—Luke Winkie explains why everyone suddenly hates the Rock.

Taylor Swift next to a private plane with tracking radar superimposed behind it.
Photo illustration by Slate. Images via Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images, Timothy McKay/iStock/Getty Images Plus and Omelchenko Andrii/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

… or a credible potential lawsuit? Nadira Goffe spoke to a legal expert to find out whether Taylor Swift could successfully sue the college student tracking her private jet.

49ers quarterback Brock Purdy seems like a nice enough guy. He hasn’t technically done anything wrong. But, Alex Kirshner writes, he must nonetheless be crushed in the Super Bowl! Kirshner explains why it’s time for Patrick Mahomes to body-slam this nice kid out of here.

… much like many seemingly bad ideas.

We wish you a brilliant weekend! Thanks so much for reading, and we’ll see you back here on Monday.