Joe Biden is the oldest sitting president in history. He is now 80 years old. The American people know he has lost a step and his gaffes and communication mistakes are plentiful. It is like the country expects him to say or do something comical and then voters forgive his foibles. He sometimes reads everything on the teleprompter that makes him look ridiculous. He has attempted to shake hands, and no one is within reach. He can look lost on stage needing a handler or his wife to tell him where to go. Even a little girl once guided him by the hand to exit the stage.
If Buffett and Kissinger Can Do It, Why Not Biden?
Age is relative of course. Some people like Warren Buffett, 92, and Henry Kissinger, 99, just keep on chugging. They continue to make money or publish books without let up, but the presidency is different. The leader of the free world has control over nuclear weapons. The Commander in Chief decides when to put our military personnel in harm’s way. Allied nations take his cue and Americans look to the White House for prudent leadership. These duties and responsibilities become more difficult with age.
Other Presidents and Candidates Seemed Even Older than Biden
Even Ronald Reagan admitted he was getting old in a debate versus Walter Mondale in 1984. He was often criticized for trying to run for president at his age, but Reagan was only 69 in 1981 when he was sworn in for the first time. John McCain was 71 when he ran in 2008, and he often talked about how he had more scars than Frankenstein. Gerald Ford looked old when he became president, but he was only 61 when he entered the White House.
Is Biden Fit for Duty?
Biden’s doctor has said the president is overall in fine shape and was considered “fit for duty” after a physical in 2021. Republicans often lament his cognitive state and have called for him to take a test on his mental acuity. All presidents misspeak and do things that leave you shaking your head. However, Biden was a gaffe machine before he was president, often saying things that he regretted in retrospect. His judgment was off too. When he first ran for president in 1988, he plagiarized his speeches that were written by Welsh politician Neil Kinnock. He lifted lines from both John and Robert Kennedy too. Biden was finally forced to drop out of the race.
Polls Say It Is Time for a Change
This has most of the American people, even Democrats, telling pollsters that they do not want the president to run for re-election. Biden is undeterred. He wants to run again, and he probably will. He is mostly polling ahead of Donald Trump in hypothetical matchups. Trump is 76, so he is getting up there too.
We Don’t Want Him to Die for Goodness Sakes
The worst thing that could happen would be if Biden died in office. This would be a tragedy that could set the country back and freeze us in time, scaring our friends and emboldening our enemies. Kamala Harris has shown she is not ready for the spotlight. Democrats do not have a deep bench of potential candidates for president.
Everyone Has a Favorite Senior
Some people can relate to Joe Biden. Those who forgive his age and gaffes are reminded of relatives who are kind and pleasant but have clearly shown they were not as swift on their feet as they once were.
80 Is the New 70
By the age of 80, I plan on being retired or at least strictly limiting my schedule. Most would agree that 80 is when it is time to hang it up. It is a difficult decision, but one that we all must contemplate. Biden could get re-elected, and he could have four more years which would make him 82 in 2024 and 86 in 2028. There is nothing in the Constitution about the maximum age of the president.
Age Will Be an Issue Next Election
One of Biden’s likely challengers, aside from Trump, is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is only 44. That would be a potential election in which age will be a factor. Perhaps the country is ready for new blood and youth and vigor. It worked for JFK when he ran against Richard Nixon in 1960. The big showdown and opportunity would be if DeSantis ever debates Biden. That would be an interesting match-up that Republicans would relish, and Democrats may fear. The country could decide for change and relegate Biden to his final retirement, way past when most draw Social Security.
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.