Columnist Robin Abcarian had a piece out with The Los Angeles Times a few months back explaining the evolution of her opinion on President Joe Biden and his capacity to serve as president – concluding that Biden, “like whiskey, wine, and cast-iron skillets,” is getting better with age. Abcarian has been covering politics for a long time, has seen Biden speak in person, and has at times been skeptical about Biden’s age and abilities – so her opinion has some weight.
But I disagree. Joe Biden is too old for a second term.
Joe Biden is not a great public speaker
“Sometimes when Biden starts to speak,” Abcarian wrote, “I involuntarily hold my breath, waiting for him to stumble over his words, or slur them or otherwise mangle his text in a way that will show up in clips on Fox News or MAGA Twitter.”
Abcarian has seen Biden verbally flailing up close and in person. During the 2020 Democratic primary, Abcarian watched Biden struggle to articulate himself in Iowa, in what many believed at the time was Biden’s “swan song.”
“It was kind of sad, but hey, he’d had a good long run, and who could begrudge him one last romp on the trail?” Abcarian wrote, acknowledging that Biden’s speaking problems likely had more to do with his advanced age than his childhood stutter.
Abcarian wrote about watching Biden in Iowa contemporaneously: “Watching him onstage was jarring. He was not the smooth orator of the past. He relied on notes, hesitated and often raised his voice to a shout, as if mistaking volume for passion.” For Abcarian, who had also seen Biden speak articulately in 2007, the contrast was jarring, the decline obvious.
Biden got rocked in the 2020 Iowa caucus, finishing fourth. Abcarian and most others wrote him off. Then, of course, Biden rolled in and won South Carolina, cleaning up amongst black voters. Biden was able to craft a message that resonated: the election was a fight for the soul of the country – and an argument that carried – he was the best option for beating Trump. Both message and argument worked; Biden won the primary; Biden won the general election – and according to Abcarian, has had a successful presidency, causing her to reevaluate having written Biden off. Nowadays, Abcarian is on board with Biden.
“He may not always sound sharp,” Abcarian wrote, “but Biden proved [during the State of the Union] that he hasn’t lost his edge. He accused ‘some Republicans of wanting to use Social Security and Medicare as negotiating points in discussions about raising the debt ceiling.’” The address was proof positive, to Abcarian, that Biden is equipped to run for another election. I disagree.
Biden is too old to run
Biden is already 80; he’s already the oldest person ever to serve as president. As Abcarian points out, Biden is not as articulate as he used to be – most likely because of age-related decline. Let me reemphasize that: Biden is suffering from age-related decline.
Personally, I don’t recommend we elect people suffering from age-related decline into the most consequential public office in the United States.
And despite Abcarian’s point that Biden still has his edge, my question is: how much longer will Biden have an edge?
Does age-related decline typically stabilize around 80? Is the Joe Biden we see now the Biden we’ll get at the end of a second term?
Or will Biden’s decline continue – or even accelerate – leaving Biden less than capable to perform the functions of his office? Remember, Biden will be 86 at the end of a second term if he is elected.
Frankly, the likelihood that Joe Biden lives through a second term seems questionable, given that he has already exceeded the life expectancy for a US male.
Of course, it goes without saying we wish the president well and long life. However, Joe Biden is too old to run for reelection.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.