In high school, oh so many years ago, two friends of mine were taking Spanish. One day their teacher Mrs. Efurd gave them the assignment of conducting a conversation in front of the class on two topics of their choice; the first I can’t recall, but the second was El Cid. The trouble was, they couldn’t think of any means of conversationally connecting topic one and topic two. The day of the assignment arrived, and as their first topic—about a meal, I think—began to flag, one of them suddenly chimed in, “Hablando El Cid” (“Speaking of El Cid”), and Mrs. Efurd burst out laughing. I told the story to my father who passed it on to his friends, with the result that the expression “Speaking of El Cid” became common whenever anyone of them in conversation changed subject abruptly.

El Cid, for those who haven’t heard of him, was Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, an eleventh-century noble and famed warrior during the Reconquista of Spain. As legend recounts, after his death, his wife Jimena had his corpse strapped to Babieca his horse to lead the Spaniards into battle against the Moors. The movie El Cid may embroider the story a bit, but the dead and rather stiff Cid (played by Charlton Heston) that charges out of the city’s gates to rout the infidel stays close enough to the epic account.

Well, speaking of El Cid, Rodrigo and Jimena have leaped the centuries and shown up in American politics, ready as ever to destroy the infidel. They have new names, Joe and Jill Biden, but their tactics match those of their illustrious predecessors.

Many of us had guessed long ago that President Biden has seen better days, and by that, I mean regarding his mental acuity in the most general sense. No doubt, he was once much sharper. Anyone who saw his disgraceful performance in the 2012 vice-presidential debate with Paul Ryan will recall his ability—maybe his only ability—to deliver snarky one-liners: “So you’re Jack Kennedy” in response to Ryan’s perfectly accurate claim that J.F.K.’s lowering taxes boosted the economy, and his multiple interjections of “Malarky.”

Biden has revealed himself again and again as a boor, a fabulist, a corrupt influence-peddler, a plagiarist, and a doctrinaire liberal. All the commentators who call him moderate and decent populate an alternate universe; his American Conservative Union lifetime record was around 15%; that’s 85% liberal for his congressional scorecard. The Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) rated him 100%, a “Senate Hero,” in 2006, one of his last years as senator. He scored a mere 75% for 2007 and 2008, but those marginally better performances hardly make him moderate.

But the real issue today remains whether he is mentally competent to perform the duties of President. Karine Jean-Pierre, Joe Scarborough, and others have insisted ad nauseam that Old Joe’s mind lies somewhere just short of Einstein’s. Indeed, it does, insofar as Einstein, at least as a living breathing man, is dead and presumably brain-dead; Biden’s so-mo, confused thinking just barely qualifies him for inclusion among the living.

His deficiencies—garbled speech, unsteadiness, moments when he freezes and goes blank—in the few press conferences he’s given, the fund raiser in L.A., the recent G7 Summit in Italy have provided mounting evidence that Biden has crossed a dividing line separating one level of dementia (when he took office) from a more serious one (where he is now). Anyone who doubted what was apparent to Biden’s harsher critics could no longer deny his state after the night of June 27th; CNN’s post-debate panel didn’t so much as try. The postmortem (of the debate, I mean) in the New York Times did not mince words: the time has come for him to step aside.

What this means depends on who’s doing the talking. Are they asking Biden to withdraw from the race but stay in office? If so, why? Doesn’t telling him to step aside underscore their belief that he’s unfit for the post not only come November but this very minute? If that’s true, Kamala Harris and the cabinet should invoke the 25th amendment immediately, and the Democratic National Committee should, as an emergency measure, replace candidate Biden with Acting President Harris. I’m still waiting for that scenario to unfold.

Jill Biden, a first lady who from all appearances yearns to be the next Edith Wilson, consoled her husband as the debate concluded with her assurances that he had answered all the questions, adding, like a mother talking to her four-year-old, that he’d done well. After the family holed up in Camp David, she contacted Vogue magazine, whose latest cover she graces, declaring that she “would not let those 90 minutes define the four years he’s been president,” and that they “would continue the fight.”

So, there you have it. The new Jimena is busying herself, as I write, with propping up the near-cadaverous Joe on his horse, readying herself to slap a new Babieca on the rump to carry him, will he or nil he, onto the field of battle to “do what’s best for the country.” Meanwhile, the rest of us will be left to wonder, “Is he alive, or is he dead?”