To break the Biden Age taboo

A pastime around our office in early 2021 was guessing when the Democrats would start pointing out that President Biden was too old for the job and should wrap it up. Consensus was after a drone in the midterm elections, but congratulations to the colleague (he knows who he is), who rained sometime early this year. He wins the office pool because the attempt to push the president out the door has already begun.

The New York Times started the kickstart with a story that quoted various progressive sages who suddenly admitted what everyone has known all along: Mr. Biden is the oldest acting U.S. president at age 79, and he will be 82 when he ends his term. He looks and sounds each his age. This statement about the obvious has now moved along the progressive media chorus line to the Atlantic, with a piece claiming “Let me put it bluntly: Joe Biden should not run for re-election in 2024. He is too old.”

These stories treat this as a revelation, as if Mr. Biden suddenly showed a dramatic decline. The truth is that the president showed that he had lost a verbal, and perhaps mental, step in the first democratic candidate debate in 2019. He has not improved. Democrats admitted it privately at the time, but they met him during the South Carolina primary as it appeared he was the only Democrat who could postpone the nomination of Bernie Sanders and defeat Donald Trump.

The rest of the campaign was a long apology to Mr. Biden’s strategy of limiting his public exposure by campaigning in his basement in Delaware. Covid-19 was the perfect excuse, and woe to any journalist who dared to ask if Mr Biden was not the same man we knew as Vice President. The subject was taboo.

This was one of the great free campaign passes in history. Ronald Reagan’s age was the subject of painful media concern when he ran for president at the age of 69 in 1980. He was shaken after he stumbled in the first debate against Walter Mondale in 1984, and he had to subdue the media and public doubt with a laugh. on Mondale’s “youth and inexperience” in the next debate.

The gipper was three weeks shy of 78 when he left office, which was younger than Mr. The bite was when he entered the Oval. If the president shows up and serves another term, he would be 86 on his last day on the job. But Mr Biden was needed to defeat Mr Trump, and so this whole age business had to be ignored by 2020.

Why the democratic turn now? An obvious answer is that the president is down in the polls, and his low approval rating could cost Democrats control of Congress in November. The problem cannot be the party’s ideas or Mr Biden’s adoption of the Sanders agenda after campaigning moderately. The problem must be Mr Biden. He is suddenly not up to the burdens of the oval office that has aged even younger men. He can not argue for his ideas. He is overwhelmed by crises.

You almost have to feel sorry for Mr Biden, who saved his party from Mr Trump, but who is useless now that he is a political responsibility. You can almost hear Mr. Biden shouting to his staff: Where is the gratitude? Do you think Bernie or Mayor Pete would have beaten Trump? I am the one who saved democracy.

Mr. The bite can be stubborn, and as anyone with older parents knows, taking their car keys can be a difficult conversation. The president may not want to leave the city as easily as some Democrats want him to.

All the more so given the lack of overt democratic alternatives to Mr Biden in 2024. Vice President Kamala Harris would drive in a millisecond, but nothing she has done or said since her appearance on the national stage suggests that she is up to the presidency.

The Democrats know that, as you can tell from all the stories earlier this year about her political struggles. It’s Beltway’s insider way of preparing the field so other candidates can consider running. Not that Pete Buttigieg needs any lure.

Such is the price of nominating Mr Biden with so little scrutiny of his capacity to become president. Maybe the Democrats want to avoid a tussle in the midterm period, or he will rally after the election using a GOP congress as a foil. But Democrats may want to start looking for candidates far from Washington if they want to keep the White House by 2024.

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