For the last several months distinguished pundits whose politics generally support the overall agenda of the Democratic Party have spilled gallons of ink (figuratively speaking, it is an old cliché I admit but then again, I am old too) calling on President Joe Biden to step down and let someone younger run for President.
All the arguments have a depressing sameness. They begin with acknowledgment that Joe Biden has accomplishments that his two Democratic predecessors failed to achieve. They then lament that he will be the oldest person ever elected President, that this provides fodder to the Republicans, and that Biden looks old. Many of them parrot GOP talking points that Biden is slipping, that he is not fast on the uptake, or that he tripped over a sandbag some clown left in the middle of the stage. They lament the inadequacy of Kamala Harris as a Vice Presidential candidate despite the fact that Biden cannot drop her without offending the party’s core supporters. Observing these self-defeating phenomena, I have reluctantly concluded that in some mysterious way Steve Bannon has hacked their columns. All the arguments are half-baked; half-baked because none of them, not one, has suggested who the anointed candidate should be nor how the search for a nominee would proceed without an intraparty bloodbath. Nor have any acknowledged the elephant in the room: Donald Trump will be the GOP candidate and Biden is almost certainly the only Democrat who can defeat him.
Let’s dispense with the ageism first. For the record, I do take personal affront at those who tell me that I am overly sensitive because I am older than Biden. Too many pundits buy into the GOP accusations that Biden trips over things, drools and dribbles, is just too slow, or might die in office. To dispense with the most obvious lie first, I challenge any one of them to present any evidence of the drooling. Does he trip over obstacles or look unsteady on his pins? I watched a 40 year old athlete fall down a flight of stairs a little before the pandemic; who hasn’t? Don’t Joe Biden’s detractors remember Trump’s slow and unsteady descent down a ramp at West Point in June, 2020 or barely catching himself after slipping on a ramp at a New Hampshire political rally two months later? Or the fact that Trump must use two hands to hold a bottle of water? (Marco Rubio would argue that Trump’s hands are too small to hold it with just one.)
Being slow and deliberative is a basic qualification for being President of the United States. Do we want someone who flies off the handle when the nuclear football is an arm’s length away? Do we want an emotionally reactive President who is so delusional as to believe that he won the 2020 election? As for Biden’s appearance of age, I had occasion to observe him several times over the last 40 years. He had the same slow deliberative manner in 1983 that he does today. He reminds me of my sainted Aunt Sophia who looked the same – an indeterminate older middle age – from my first memories of her in the late 1940s to when she passed on at the age of 101. Aunt Sophia amazed my then-young wife, 55 years her junior, when she threaded a needle at the first pass!
Finally, the pundits seem to fear that voters will be so terrified of Biden meeting his Maker in mid-term and leaving Kamala Harris President that they will vote for Trump. Seriously? Trump is only three and half years younger, his life expectancy according to actuarial tables has an expected ten years to live. Biden has an expected eight and half years ahead of him. Let me do the arithmetic: the next Presidential term will end in five and half years. Both have a high probability of being still around. As for Kamala Harris, no Presidential race has ever been even marginally affected by the selection of Vice President despite all the hoo-hah about the VP selection. Trump will have his own VP problems. He needs to select a VP in whom he has absolute confidence will pardon him after he is convicted and forced to step down. If I were Trump, I wouldn’t trust any of the potential suitors to go through with a pardon; almost every Republican politician I can think of would prefer Trump in jail.
Biden has a lot going for him as he seeks reelection. He has passed better legislation than any Democratic President since LBJ. He has addressed, after years of neglect, our failing inventory of infrastructure. He is the most determined pro-labor, pro-workingman, Democratic President since Bill Clinton dumped the working class in favor of the ‘liberal’ neo-economics in the mold of Ronald Reagan. He has reinvigorated our alliances, mobilizing NATO to face down Russia and rebuilding our influence in countries China intimidates. He has struck a chord among the very youngest of voters, Gen-Z, who quietly but effectively turned out in large numbers in the 2020 elections, a greater percentage than previous young voter generations. He faces a fractured opposition GOP, many of whom advocate a nationwide abortion ban, tax cuts during inflation, rolling back civil rights, destroying public schools, and reverting to 1930’s isolationism. With luck, the GOP three-ring circus in the House of Representatives may also soon shut down the US government and tip us into recession. Why should Democrats fracture by starting a bitter fight over who the nominee should be? Biden’s only weaknesses are his low-key messaging when the Republicans have better one-liners and the circular firing squad of the Democratic chattering class.