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America Is Worried About Joe Biden

In less than six months, President Joe Biden will turn 81-years-old. He celebrated his 80th birthday with little fanfare, trying to downplay the milestone

Joe Biden Speech on Debt Ceiling Deal. Image Credit: White House YouTube Feed Screenshot.
Joe Biden Speech on Debt Ceiling Deal

In less than six months, President Joe Biden will turn 81-years-old. He celebrated his 80th birthday with little fanfare, trying to downplay the milestone. Indeed, Biden is the oldest president elected in American history, followed by former President Trump, who turned 77 on June 14.

But it’s not just Biden’s age that has some voters concerned, it’s the apparent state of his mental and physical health. How much will Biden’s forgetfulness, gaffes and physical frailty impact the 2024 election?

Biden’s Health History in a Nutshell

Biden suffered a cerebral aneurysm and brain bleed in 1988 and underwent nine hours of emergency surgery with a 50% chance of survival. Biden survived the procedure but experienced blood clots on the left side of his brain, the side response for speech and movements on the right side of the body. He suffered a second minor aneurysm three months later and underwent surgery as well, including the insertion of metal clips that make him unable to undergo an MRI.

According to an official health memorandum issued by Biden’s physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor on February 16 of this year, POTUS is in fine health. Pushing back against criticism of Biden’s health, O’Connor emphasized that “President Biden remains a healthy, vigorous, 80-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency, to include those of as Chief Executive, Head of State and Commander in Chief.”

Joe Biden: A History of Gaffes and Accidents

Biden’s first term in the White House been plagued by a number of gaffes and accidents, including numerous instances of apparently forgetting where he is, shaking hands with the air, saying words that don’t exist and tripping and stumbling on stage. Past instances of apparent blunders such as saying “black kids” can “also” be smart have also plagued Biden and been used as ammunition by his conservative opponents.

In March of 2022, Biden experienced a rough fall while boarding Air Force One, and most recently stumbled and fell while trying to leave the stage at the Air Force Academy after delivering commencement remarks. Criticism and mockery of Biden by the right has been downplayed by former President Trump, who says Biden’s problems are “very serious” and nothing to joke about.

What Do Voters Think?

A March 2023 CNN poll found that 67% of Americans believe Biden doesn’t possess the necessary “stamina and sharpness” to be POTUS. This has been reinforced by the GOP’s attacks on Biden as “Sleepy Joe” and their emphasis on his gaffes, including a recent montage of Biden’s biggest slip and falls put together by Fox News, for example, with circus music in the background.

Another poll from PBS, NPR and Marist polling in May of this year found similar results, with 62% of respondents saying they had “serious concerns” about Biden’s “mental fitness.” This narrowed to only around 4 in 10 in terms of Democrat respondents who expressed concern over Biden’s mental acuity.

As the race progresses, it’s clear that Biden has an uphill climb against accusations that he’s physically and mentally unstable, including among his own base. His recent fall at the Air Force Academy also won’t help perceptions that he’s too old and frail to be POTUS.

Paul Brian is an author and freelance journalist who has reported for Reuters, BBC, and Foreign Policy, and contributed to the Spectator, the Federalist, and the American Conservative.  He has covered global events from Europe, the former Soviet Union, and the Middle East to South America. 

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Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.