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EDITORIAL: Biden cover-up mirrors previous Dem efforts to deceive

The year was 1919. President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat with another 16 months left in his second term, collapsed in Colorado during a speaking tour. Upon returning to the White House, he suffered a major stroke.

“At this point, a cover-up began,” one historian wrote, led by his doctor and his wife, Edith. Edwin Weinstein, a Wilson biographer, reports that both confidantes felt the American public should not know of the president’s condition.

“Protective of both her husband’s reputation and power,” Howard Markel of PBS wrote, “Edith shielded Woodrow from interlopers and embarked on a bedside government that essentially excluded Wilson’s staff, the Cabinet and the Congress.”

The deception continued for well more than a year. Wilson recovered somewhat, but remained crippled with infirmities. Yet he wasn’t willing to step aside and even embarked upon a failed attempt to secure the Democratic nomination for a third term.

As years passed, historians pieced together more details of the Wilson administration’s efforts to deceive the public about the president’s health. By contrast, the current administration’s attempts to keep the American people in the dark about President Joe Biden’s mental decline has played out in real time. But the intent is no less nefarious.

On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported the lengths to which Mr. Biden’s handlers have gone to hide or disguise the president’s increasingly obvious struggles. That includes limiting his daily activities and shielding him “from impromptu exchanges.” Those closest to Mr. Biden also “restricted news conferences and tried to make sure meetings with donors stuck to scripted pleasantries.”

As Mr. Biden’s condition deteriorated, his advisers clamped down even tighter — all while “assuring everyone that the president was fine.” The strategy was so effective that even many Democrats “were stunned” when Mr. Biden rambled incoherently at times during his first debate with Donald Trump. Now, the Journal reports, “many donors and lawmakers feel misled.”

Yet the games continue. The New York Times reported Monday that an expert on Parkinson’s disease visited the White House eight times in the past eight months. Yet administration officials played it coy about the nature of his business, refusing to “directly say whether any of his … visits were related to consulting on the president’s health.”

Democrats and Mr. Biden repeatedly maintain that Mr. Trump is a threat to “democracy” as they obfuscate, dissemble and purposely mislead the country about the president’s capabilities. For an administration supposedly committed to defending “democracy,” this clear indifference to accountability and transparency is revealing. They might have a better case if they finally stopped denying the obvious about Joe Biden.