As President Joe Biden stumbles through another public appearance, the calls for him to decline a run for re-election are intensifying. Unfortunately, too many critiques of our president relate mostly to his age.
Mr. Biden will turn 80 just in time for Thanksgiving, and should he be re-elected as president, he would be 86 when completing his second term. This prospective chronology has elicited various critiques, from Democrats, Republicans and others.
Two Democratic Congressmen from Minnesota have drawn attention to the ages of the president and the top two leaders of the House. Rep. Dean Phillips noted that “our top three leaders are over 80 years old,” and Rep. Angie Craig has called for a “new generation of leadership,” echoing a phrase used in President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address.
In her Democratic primary debate last month, Manhattan Rep. Carolyn Maloney expressed her doubt that Mr. Biden will run again. The next day, she clarified that she supports Mr. Biden for another term.
One House member with medical bonafides is Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), who served Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump as White House physician. He has commented on this president’s “…age-related cognitive decline.”
Pundits from the left, such as the New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, and conservative New York Post columnist John Podhoretz, concur that Mr. Biden is “too old” to be president.
But are cognitive problems and general ditziness inexorably linked to aging? What about the frequent incoherence of our 57-year-old vice president?
In a 2013 op-ed for the New York Daily News, I argued against linking then-Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation merely to his age. I opined that accepting that simple explanation could lead to age discrimination against older people seeking employment, credit and other accepted privileges of life. Judging from some critiques of Mr. Biden today, it looks like I was right.
During my eight years at NYC’s Department for the Aging, I was privileged to know and work with Dr. Robert Butler, the Pulitzer-prize-winning author of Why Survive? Being Old in America. He created and chaired the first hospital geriatric unit in the nation, at Mt. Sinai. Dr. Butler declared that “senility was not inevitable, but rather a consequence of disease.”
His observations may give us perspective on today’s national leaders. Dr. Butler noted that “older leaders often play extraordinary roles in stabilizing countries in crisis. We witnessed such stabilizing forces during the tenure of Konrad Adenauer in West Germany and Charles de Gaulle in France, following World War II.”
Mr. Adenauer resigned as chancellor in 1963, at age 87, but just two years earlier, he was the steady hand who partnered with President Kennedy to defuse the Soviet-instigated Berlin Wall crisis. Mr. Adenauer remained the chairman of his Christian Democrat party until he was 90. Mr. DeGaulle was president of France until age 79.
Nelson Mandela, imprisoned during his middle years, was elected the critical democratic president of South Africa at age 74 and served for five years. Greek prime minister Xenophon Zolotas left office at age 86, and Michel Aoun, the current president of Lebanon, turns 89 in September. Chiang Kai-shek was the president of the free Republic of China (first on the mainland, then in Taiwan) until his death at age 88. And Israeli President Reuven Rivlin retired last year at 82.
James Buckley, New York’s own former US Senator and later a respected Federal Appeals Court Judge, turns 100 soon. In his 90s, Mr. Buckley personally authored two books with incisive lessons in public policy for our current Congress. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, also 99, continues to give speeches and interviews on international issues of the day.
Clearly, Dr. Butler was on to something when pointing to world leaders who were competent executives, some achieving great things, well into their 80s and beyond. Whatever is hindering Mr. Biden’s ability to discharge his duties effectively, it is not mere age.
Mark Twain counseled us on this topic: “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Mr. Biden should be held accountable for his catastrophic policies on inflation, hyper-spending, waffling on the world stage, massive illegal migrant entries, taxes, energy & other shortages, encouraging lawlessness, “climate” alarmism, and efforts to make our election integrity systems more vulnerable to corruption.
So, is Joseph Biden too old to be president? No.
But he should be defeated in a landslide because of his incompetent leadership, low-caliber appointments, far-left policies that punish Americans with inflation, overspending, shortages and taxes, and his dangerous “America last” stance overseas. Isn’t that enough?
• Herbert W. Stupp was Commissioner of the NYC Department for the Aging, 1994-2002. He was appointed by Mayor Giuliani and now edits Gipperten.com.