A pastime around our office in early 2021 was guessing when Democrats would start pointing out that President Biden was too old for the job and should fill it. The consensus was after a beating in the midterm elections, but congratulations to the colleague (he knows who he is) who appeared earlier this year. He wins the office pool because the campaign to kick the president out has already begun.
The New York Times kicked off with a story quoting various progressive sages suddenly admitting what everyone knew all along: Mr. Biden is the oldest sitting US president at 79, and he will be 82. years at the end of his term. He looks and sounds quite his age. This statement of the obvious has now moved along the chorus line of progressive media to the Atlantic, with a piece claiming “Let me put it bluntly: Joe Biden shouldn’t be running 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, the president demonstrated he lost a verbal, and possibly mental, step in the first Democratic nominee debate in 2019. He hasn’t improved. Democrats privately admitted it at the time, but rallied around him in the South Carolina primary when it looked like he was the only Democrat who could hold off Bernie Sanders’ nomination and defeat Donald Trump.
The rest of the campaign was a long apology for Mr. Biden’s strategy of limiting his public exposure by campaigning from his Delaware basement. Covid-19 was the perfect excuse, and woe betide any reporter who dared ask if Mr. Biden wasn’t the same man we knew as vice president. The subject was taboo.
It was one of the biggest free campaign passes in history. Ronald Reagan’s age was the subject of intense media concern when he ran for president at 69 in 1980. He was roasted after he stumbled in the first debate against Walter Mondale in 1984, and he had to defuse the doubts of the media and the public with a quip. on Mondale’s “youth and inexperience” in the upcoming debate.
The Gipper was three weeks younger than 78 when he left office, which was younger than Mr Biden when he entered the Ring. If the president runs and serves a second term, he would be 86 on his last day in office. But Mr. Biden was needed to defeat Mr. Trump, and so all those age cases had to be ignored in 2020.
Why the Democratic shift 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 party ideas or Mr. Biden’s embrace of Sanders’ agenda after campaigning as a moderate. The problem must be Mr. Biden. He’s suddenly no match for the Oval Office burdens that have aged even younger men. He cannot defend his ideas. He is overwhelmed by crises.
You almost have to feel sorry for Mr. Biden, who saved his party from Mr. Trump but is expendable now that he is a political liability. You can almost hear Mr. Biden yelling at his staff: Where’s the gratitude? Do you think Bernie or Mayor Pete would have beaten Trump? I am the one who saved democracy.
Mr. Biden can be stubborn and, as anyone with older parents knows, pulling out their car keys can be a tough conversation. The president may not want to leave town as easily as some Democrats want.
Especially since there are no obvious Democratic alternatives to Mr. Biden in 2024. Vice President Kamala Harris would show up in a millisecond, but nothing she has done or said since emerging. on the national stage does suggest that she belongs in the presidency.
Democrats know that, which you can tell by all the stories earlier this year about his political struggles. It’s how Beltway insiders prepare the ground for other candidates to consider running. Not that Pete Buttigieg needs to be cajoled.
Such is the price of Mr. Biden’s nomination with so little scrutiny of his fitness for the presidency. Maybe the Democrats will avoid a midterm beating, or he’ll rally after the election using a GOP convention as a foil. But Democrats may want to start looking for candidates away from Washington if they want to retain the White House in 2024.
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