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Of course Biden is too old to be president

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 6/20/2022 Byron York
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OF COURSE BIDEN IS TOO OLD TO BE PRESIDENT. There's an unintentionally amusing article in the Atlantic that has gotten a lot of discussion lately. It's about the age issue and President Joe Biden, who will turn 80 this November. The journalist Mark Leibovich began the piece this way: "Let me put this bluntly: Joe Biden should not run for reelection in 2024. He is too old." Leibovich said he has recently spoken with 10 "official and unofficial advisers to the administration." They've spent time around the president and say he is holding up well despite all the bad things that are happening in the country and the world. But then Leibovich added: "Here's another recurring theme I keep hearing, notably from people predisposed to liking the president. 'He just seems old.'"

File that under the least surprising news in the world. Anyone who has seen a video or two of Biden at presidential functions would say the same thing. But here's the amusing part. Leibovich felt a little uncomfortable saying it aloud because it might appear to support attacks on Biden from the Right. "It all feels impolite to point this out," he wrote, "disrespectful, ageist, and taboo, especially given the gross Republican smears about Biden being a doddering and demented old puppet. No one wants to perpetuate this garbage."

But still, there are concerns. Biden, Leibovich wrote, "will sometimes mangle sentences, blank on names, get tortured by teleprompters, lose his train of thought, or not make sense — which is not so abnormal for someone his age." And those concerns "received a fibrous super-boost" recently, Leibovich wrote, when the New York Times published a story in which dozens of Democratic officials around the country "expressed 'deep concern' about the elderly state of the man in the chair." To see so many members of the president's own party express doubts about his capabilities was "rather jarring," Leibovich wrote.

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Perhaps because of this discomfort, Leibovich pointed out that Biden is in good health for a man his age. Sure, he has some of the standard "old-guy ailments." But nothing serious. And he takes care of himself — no smoking, drinking, lots of exercise. "He looks great for a guy his age," Leibovich wrote. And then: "Biden is fit to faithfully execute his duties, the White House physician said in his most recent health summary. The question is: Should he? The answer: Sure, for now. But not a day after January 20, 2025."

So the verdict in the Atlantic is: Yes, Biden is old, and yes, people who work with him, as well as many others, are concerned. But Biden is absolutely fit, not too old, to be president until noon on Jan. 20, 2025, when the next president of the United States will be sworn in. At that moment, Biden will become too old to be president.

The possibility that the president is too old to be president right now is just too troubling for some Democrats to contemplate. But of course, Biden is too old to be president, right at this very moment. That is something that was known even before the 2020 election. In April 2019, as the Democratic primary race began to shape up, I wrote an article headlined, "Face it: Biden and Bernie are too old to be president." There were concerns even then.

The point is not that some of the Republican attacks on Biden were true. No, Biden did not have dementia, as some of his adversaries said. He was not disoriented, not knowing where he was. Those were hit jobs from people who clearly did not watch Biden participate in 11 Democratic debates. (He got through them all — he wasn't very good, but he wasn't very good 20 years ago, either.) The point was that Biden was inexorably slowing down and was increasingly not up to the most demanding job in the world.

The premise of the Leibovich piece is that Biden is not too old now but that he would be too old in a second term, in which he would serve until age 86. The latter point seems beyond dispute. But the concerns Democrats are expressing are about Biden now. And remember, in this term, he will be president until he is 82.

In casual conversations over the past several months, I have asked retired men who accomplished a lot in their careers, including CEOs or high-ranking officials, whether they would have been ready to take on the most challenging, taxing, exhausting job of their life at age 80. They laughed at the idea. Of course not, they said. But that is the situation with the presidency today — right now.

At this point, it is inevitable that some on Twitter will say: "Now do Trump." If former President Donald Trump were to be elected to a second term, he would take office in 2025 at age 78 — the same age Biden was when he became president in 2021. Trump would serve until age 82. So if serving between the ages of 78 and 82 is too old for Biden, wouldn't it be too old for Trump?

The answer is yes, it would. Now, the Trump of today — he just turned 76 last week — is much more vigorous-appearing than Biden. If you watched one of Trump's rallies, you would see a high-energy performance that goes on somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half. Trump appears to be infinitely stronger and more energetic than Biden.

But age is coming for Trump, just as it did for Biden. Perhaps Trump would be fine in the White House until age 82. Perhaps not. Trump's father, Fred, lived until age 93 but showed signs of cognitive decline in his mid-80s. After his death, there was a huge fight over his will, and his dementia was a major point of contention.

The point is, the nation would be making a bet that Trump would be healthy and sharp until age 82. Voters already made that bet with Biden, and now many are feeling quite nervous about it. Should they do it again?

Some elections are seen as signs of generational change. The handover of power from the 70-year-old Dwight Eisenhower — he was the oldest president ever at that point — to the 43-year-old John F. Kennedy was one of those times. Now, with a president soon to be in his 80s and with congressional leaders over 80, voters might well see 2024 as one of those times. Democrats might be stuck with Biden, if he insists on running again. But Republicans will have a field of candidates in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who would all be eminently able and ready to serve.

For a deeper dive into many of the topics covered in the Daily Memo, please listen to my podcast, The Byron York Show — available on the Ricochet Audio Network and everywhere else podcasts can be found. You can use this link to subscribe.

 

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Tags: Daily Memo, Byron York, Joe Biden, Presidency, Donald Trump

Original Author: Byron York

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