President Joe Biden fell on stage on Thursday at the U.S. State Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. The president was reportedly helped up by two U.S. Secret Service agents and one Air Force official, and was “totally fine,” the White House reported.
However, such falls involving any senior citizen are seen as a reason for concern. This is just the latest such episode involving the 80-year-old commander-in-chief.
Even Clinton is Worried About Joe Biden
Speaking at last month’s Financial Times Weekend Festival in Washington, D.C., former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that President Joe Biden’s age was a legitimate issue and added, “People have every right to consider it.” Clinton made the comments after footage of Biden circulated of him stumbling while he walked down a small set of stairs at the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima, Japan.
Biden had traveled to Japan to attend the G7 Summit.
“There was that heart-stopping moment when he almost fell over coming down the stairs a day or two ago,” Financial Times editor Edward Luce noted during the Weekend Festival.
“He didn’t use a railing, and Jill wasn’t there with him,” Luce added, then directed a question to Clinton. “Every time that happens, your heart is in your mouth because these things could be consequential. Is that a concern?”
Clinton responded that it was a concern for anyone watching.
“We’ve had presidents who had fallen before who were a lot younger, and people didn’t go into heart palpitations. But his age is an issue, and people have every right to consider it,” Clinton added.
Secretary Clinton is also far from alone in noting Biden’s age.
Americans Think Biden is Too Old
An ABC News/Washington Post poll from May also found that 68 percent of Americans believe Biden is too old for another term as president. By contrast, 44 percent of respondents said former President Donald Trump, Biden’s potential opponent in the 2024 election, is also too old to serve as president.
Biden is now 80 while Trump is 76.
As Vanity Fair had noted recently, when Biden was a child the country had just 48 states, and he is now older than 96 percent of his fellow Americans.
Is it Just a Number?
Not everyone, of course, is convinced that Biden’s age is really an issue.
New York Times Opinion Columnist Charles M. Blow wrote last month, “It’s true that if he’s re-elected, Biden would be the oldest president we’ve ever had. But he was already the oldest president the first time he was elected. What changed?”
Blow had also noted, “And aging is individual: Some people appear vibrant at 80 and others worn at 50.”
A case has been made that English rocker Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones is less than a year younger than Biden, and is still touring like much younger rockstars. Likewise, screen legend Al Pacino, who is 83, announced he’ll become a father again, while Harrison Ford – also 80 – will be appearing as Indiana Jones for a final outing later this month.
Finally, Clint Eastwood celebrated his 93 birthday on Wednesday, so maybe age is just a number.
Of course, there is a difference when it comes to rocking on stage or making movies from what it takes to run the free world. Should Mick Jagger stumble on stage, it might ruin the show for the audience. Pacino won’t likely be around to see his latest child graduate high school, even though the kid will be able to see Al in countless films. Ford and Eastwood have all but confirmed they’re retired at this point.
Biden’s age is a concern even if he isn’t rocking out, and no one would have ever confused him with an action star.
Yet, he is still the oldest president to date, and the American people now must hold their breaths every time the president climbs or worse descends a set of stairs. Biden will only continue to move a bit slower, as many older people do.
It is his mental health that is also a concern. Again, Jagger can forget lyrics or Ford his lines and it is really no big deal. Though all presidents are surrounded by advisors, the decisions end with the individual seated at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.
Would an 86-year-old president – how old Biden will be at the end of a notional second term – require more time to consider a life-or-death decision? How should the U.S. respond to an attack would be the most urgent decision any president may ever have to make.
Is Biden going to be up to that task?
For most 86-year-olds, daily decisions come down to what to have for dinner and what TV shows to watch, not matters that could determine the future of the country or ones that could literally impact civilization. Americans do have the right to be concerned. Biden will need to make hard choices when he is 86 – ones that are far more pressing than what flavor of ice cream sounds good.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.