Joe Biden mocks his own age: The president’s advanced age is likely the thing that’s most likely to keep him from re-election. So he’s begun joking about it.
Joe Biden and Age
President Biden, at age 80, is the oldest president in history and is running for re-election.
If he serves a second term, Biden will be 86 when he leaves office. His Republican opponents have been pushing the age question regularly, as the presidential campaign gets going, with some candidates and pundits coming right out and saying that they’re really running against Vice President Kamala Harris.
Of late, Biden decided to lean into the age question, with humor, according to a recent USA Today story back in July.
“I’m 198 years old,” Biden joked at an event in June, and at another event, he made a joke about how “That’s what I’ve done my whole life – for the last 270 years.”
It’s not a mystery why Biden is cracking such jokes.
“Humor might be the best strategy for Biden to use,” Jennifer Mercieca, an associate professor at Texas A&M and an expert on political rhetoric, told the newspaper.
“Humor suits him, and it suits the situation. Using humor allows him to acknowledge the issue of his age, which is an important issue for many Americans, while at the same time minimizing it. After all, his age is his age – he can’t change how old he is, but he can show that he’s still quick-witted (and witty) by making jokes.”
White House communicators director Ben LaBolt has also sought to defend Biden from the age questions.
“No president has ever come to the job with more experience, and President Biden has leveraged that experience into a record of accomplishments that few presidents have matched,” LaBolt said, per USA Today. He added that Biden’s record “stands in stark contrast to Republicans who want to take us back decades with their MAGA policies to erode reproductive rights, ban books and reward the wealthiest and corporations at the expense of the middle class.”
Back in July, however, a normally Biden-friendly media outlet published a column stating that Biden should “step aside.”
“The president has no business running for office at age 80,” Eliot A. Cohen of The Atlantic, a former State Department counselor who frequently railed against Donald Trump during Trump’s presidency, wrote in a piece published Friday.
While stating that he appreciates Biden, especially for having defeated Trump in 2020. But he doesn’t believe that Biden should be running for another term at his age.
“He also has no business running for president at age 80. I say that with considerable feeling, being in my late 60s and knowing that my 70s are not far off,” Cohen writes. “I am as healthy as any late-middle-aged person (admittedly, I cringe at the word old, which tells you something right there) can be. But I know that at this stage, I do not have the energy I had a decade ago. I forget more things, and if my body does not hurt when I wake up in the morning, a little voice in my head asks whether I am dead, and do not yet know it.”
He went on to describe Harris, the vice president, as someone who “has the résumé but seemingly not the political skills and heft to be a compelling presidential candidate [and] a weak backfill.”
Also back in July, Politico ran a piece about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and how many in her state are wishing she were running for president this year. Even some members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the story said, have tried to get Whitmer to run for president in 2024.
“These backstage conversations have taken place as Biden’s approval ratings show little sign of improvement and increasingly appear impervious to external events, for good or ill,” the story said. “Of course, Democrats are betting that the most significant external event of all — Republicans renominating a candidate with more baggage than O’Hare at Thanksgiving — will tip the election again to Biden.”
Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.
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