Toritto is going to be 80 years old in about 7 weeks. Never thought I would live this long. Type 1 diabetes insulin dependent most of my life. A heart attack in ’95. A stroke in 2004. A ruptured spleen in 2020 which caused me to almost bleed to death. Fluid on the left lung requiring a pleurodesis later that same year.
The bible says you get three score and ten. Modern technology and Big Pharma add at least some years. After 80, it’s all gravy.
Joe Biden at 79 is the same age as me. At 79, Joe Biden is the oldest president in American history. Concerns about his age top the list for why Democratic voters want the party to find an alternative for 2024.
I do too. “I don’t think this reflects an “ageist” prejudice against those who have reached such withering heights so much as an understanding that people in their late 70s and 80s wither.”
I can speak with some authority. At 75 I was spritely and fit. Today, while I still function well enough to live on my own, 75 feels like 20 years ago. If Joe Biden ran again and won, he would be 86 at the end of his second term. Like the rest of us oldies he would read the obits and mutter to himself – “younger than me; older than me.”
Usually I don’t think about my age but then I will see my reflection in the grocery store window and wonder who is that old, short man in the reflection. It’s not death that’s the worrying thing about a second Biden term. It’s the dwindling capacities that go with aging.
When I get together with my older brother-in-law, our first ritual is an “organ recital” — how’s your back? heart? hip? eyesight? hearing? prostate? hemorrhoids? All of you elderly know it’s true. “Getting much?” — now refers not to sex but to sleep. I don’t know anyone over 75 who sleeps through the night.
The style sections of the papers tell us the 70s are the new 50s. Septuagenarians are supposed to be fit and alert, exercise like mad, have rip-roaring sex, and party until dawn.
Rubbish. Inevitably, things begin falling apart. My aunt, who lived into her nineties, told me the old adage – “getting old isn’t for sissies.” So true.
Yet I remain upbeat – notwithstanding the seditious Republican Party, the ravages of climate change, near record inequality, a potential nuclear war, and a stubborn pandemic – because I still spend some time with people I can talk with – those who read my writing and this blog.
IMHO, Joe is too old to run again. It is time to pass the torch. President Biden cannot run for a second term in 2024. While he may not know this yet, he will soon. And the sooner the president reckons with this, and admits it, the better off his party and the country will be.
What this really comes down to is a realization among the Democratic Party institutions, like the New York Times, that Joe Biden cannot and will not be the future of the party in 2024. Months, perhaps even weeks ago, the Times wouldn’t have printed this story or would have done so in a way to leave out fears that Biden would trip over something as he now shuffles a bit
Last Sunday, though, they let the story rip as a warning that someone else needs to take the reins for Democrats in 2024 because Biden simply cannot do it, either mentally or physically.
Biden, no doubt, will struggle mightily with this. Commencing the Lame Duck period of a single term would no doubt be difficult and tempting to put off. Biden has wanted to be president his whole life, defeated Donald Trump and perhaps truly believes he is the only one who can.
He knows, as does every other Democrat that Kamala Harris cannot. “According to four people who regularly talk to Biden, all of whom asked for anonymity to discuss internal campaign matters, it is virtually inconceivable that he will run for reelection in 2024, when he would be the first octogenarian president.”
Whenever he announces that he will not run he will be a lame duck.
“Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else,” Biden said in March of 2020, while on stage with Harris, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Sen. Cory Booker. “There’s an entire generation of leaders you saw stand behind me. They are the future of this country.”
Polling shows his party wants him to cross that bridge. The message from this week’s New York Times/Siena survey is overwhelming: Biden must step aside for someone new. Only 26% of Democratic voters surveyed wanted Biden to be his party’s nominee again. And among those younger than 30 years old, 94% wanted a new nominee.
Biden’s next year promises to be brutal, so he should make this historic announcement early in 2023 right after the mid-terms– that he will leave political life at the end of his term. Announcing his retirement could blunt some of what Republicans have in store for him nest year.
So next winter, when the new Congress is sworn in, no matter its makeup or majority, Biden should tell the country he will not be running for reelection. He will then be free to make his views known as to what Democrats need to do to obtain a durable, governing majority.
Backing Harris, when she is likely beatable, would be a mistake. He should spend his time bashing Trump and the GOP while his party battles it out for the nomination, and then help the nominee get elected later that year.
A long, wide-open primary will test the strength of candidates, those who ran before and those who will step up for the first time. Biden needs to trust that another Democrat can lead the way, no matter what 2024 brings.
These next months, and this decision, will be hard on Biden personally. No one serving as president of the United States wants to imply, while still doing the job, that they soon will be too old to do the job. But it’s more complicated than just age. Biden cannot run because of his age and he cannot run because of his son. He cannot run because of his polls. While Biden feels he cannot leave the country vulnerable to Trump, he must trust others to run Trump down – other Democrats, Republicans who will work hard to make sure Trump cannot win again, and the long arm of the law.
It is quite possible that dyed haired Don is losing his grip on the GOP. Ron DeSantis, our neo-fascist Governor of Florida out raised Trump in campaign donations for the first time this quarter.
“In the next two years Biden can provide leadership at a fraught moment for the country by opening up a debate about America’s perilous present and uncertain future. Biden need not cede the stage as the country looks to 2024. A blunt discussion about how the country moves on from Biden and Trump – shoring up our democracy while we battle tribalism – is critical. And starting that conversation is an act of patriotism.”
And besides, he looks slower than he did during his last campaign.
He’s my age.
And he is simply too old. The time comes for all of us.
Barbra is 80 now too.