By Jim Geraghty, National Review
The once-taboo topic of Biden’s age, mental state, and capacities is now front and center — less than a year after bringing up the obvious was denounced as the “gross, lowest-common-denominator politics that drive people away from public life.”
Peter Baker in the New York Times, this weekend:
The reality is that managing the schedule of the oldest president in American history presents distinct challenges. And as Mr. Biden insists he plans to run for a second term, his age has increasingly become an uncomfortable issue for him, his team and his party.
More than a dozen current and former senior officials and advisers uniformly reported that Mr. Biden remained intellectually engaged, asking smart questions at meetings, grilling aides on points of dispute, calling them late at night, picking out that weak point on Page 14 of a memo and rewriting speeches like his abortion remarks on Friday right up until the last minute.
But they acknowledged Mr. Biden looks older than just a few years ago, a political liability that cannot be solved by traditional White House stratagems like staff shake-ups or new communications plans. His energy level, while impressive for a man of his age, is not what it was, and some aides quietly watch out for him. He often shuffles when he walks, and aides worry he will trip on a wire. He stumbles over words during public events, and they hold their breath to see if he makes it to the end without a gaffe.
Although White House officials insist they make no special accommodations the way Reagan’s team did, privately they try to guard Mr. Biden’s weekends in Delaware as much as possible. He is generally a five- or five-and-a-half-day-a-week president, although he is called at any hour regardless of the day as needed. He stays out of public view at night and has taken part in fewer than half as many news conferences or interviews as recent predecessors.
Yes, many of us noticed this. If Joe Biden was as quick witted, sharp-minded, energetic, and hale and hearty as his aides insist, he would be doing interviews and press conferences all the time. (Not long ago, 47-year-old White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed she had a hard time keeping up with Biden’s boundless energy level and stamina.) He would be doing more than one public event a day regularly, those events wouldn’t just be in the middle of the day, and he would appear at events on weekends. Biden looks like a president who is being largely hidden from the public eye, because he’s a president who is being largely hidden from the public eye.
Biden’s light schedule isn’t new, and his older appearance and more frequent verbal stumbles were clear when his campaign started in 2019. But for most of the past three years, pointing out the signs of Biden’s aging and difficulties was considered rude or inappropriate. Julian Castro (admittedly obnoxiously) raised the issue during a debate and he seemed to become persona non grata in Democratic circles.
The New York Times’ Baker adds:
There’s a reason Julian Castro went after Biden’s memory and mental capacities in one of the primary debates, and insisted afterwards that he didn’t regret it. (It didn’t help that Biden called Castro “Cisernos” a month later.)
Rasmussen polling found 59 percent of voters don’t think Biden would complete his first term as president. The Atlantic reported at the end of June that “other focus groups have revealed similar data. The word young voters most associate with Biden is old, followed by good, and then creepy, Democrat, and smart, according to a focus group conducted over the past few weeks for NextGen America, a political organization that focuses on increasing youth turnout. Mixed in are leader, great, nice, experienced, okay, and cool, but also senile and dementia.”
Problems are always worse when some taboo discourages people from talking about the problem. One of the reasons the Democrats are in the mess they’re in is that they would not allow an honest and likely difficult debate about Biden’s age back in 2019 and 2020.
Read more at National Review.