To hear Kevin McCarthy tell it, Joe needs more than five hours of sleep per night — as if that were a bad thing. As best as I can tell, the first time Donald Trump ever referred to his White House successor as “Sleepy Joe Biden” was in March 2018, during remarks at the Gridiron Club that were ostensibly supposed to be funny. The Republican, looking ahead to the 2020 election, said at the time, “There’s talk about Joe Biden, Sleepy Joe, getting into the race…. Just trust me, I would kick his ass. Boy, would he be easy. Oh, would he be easy…. He doesn’t have a shot.”
As the 2020 election results later proved, Trump’s prediction didn’t work out especially well, but it was the “Sleepy Joe” framing that stood out as odd. In fact, even at the time, it wasn’t altogether clear what the criticism was intended to mean. Were we supposed to see Biden as boring? Old? Unhealthy?
Trump repeated the phrase obsessively for the remainder of his term, to no avail: Biden defeated the Republican incumbent by 7 million votes. But evidently, the issue of the Democrat’s sleepiness is apparently still of interest in Republican circles. The Hill noted that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appeared on Fox News on Friday night and dinged Biden for, of all things, sleeping more than his predecessor.
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