The Age Question Isn’t Joe Biden’s Biggest Problem

In the U.S., everything is pointing to a duel between the geezers. Americans are going to have to wait for generational change.

The annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner is among the most beloved traditions among Washington politicians. And that’s not just because one can catch a whiff of Hollywood in the otherwise very respectable U.S. Capitol.

So it is that the glamorous from the West Coast meet the most esteemed from politics and journalism in the Hilton Hotel. Comedians are allowed to take on the delightful task of roasting the president and his politics.

This year, Joe Biden took a few barbs about his age, among other things, from comedian Roy Wood Jr. While people in France “rioted because they didn’t want to work till 64,” in the U.S., “we have an 80-year-old man begging us for four more years of work,” Wood joked. The president’s task during this more or less humorous rant is to laugh bravely and show a sense of humor.

The 80-year-old sitting president will, of course, need much more than a sense of humor for the campaign that awaits him over the next 18 months. The political atmosphere is tense, and Republicans have long homed in on the question of his age. Even U.S. newspapers are eagerly considering the issue. Is Biden senile? Would he even survive a second term? Is he really just his advisers’ puppet, or does he need nurses instead of advisers? The fact that his potential challenger, Donald Trump, is only 3 1/2 years younger than Biden demonstrates how superficial this discussion is. And that in a country where the average age in both houses of Congress is 61.6 years old. U.S. politics are aging.

Faded and Shapeless

Apparently, however, there are no Democratic alternatives to the sensible candidacy of Biden. Vice President Kamala Harris, who was supposed to be a young, modern successor for the future, remains faded and shapeless. People consider the others to be incapable of winning a majority. Moreover, in recent U.S. history, a challenger within the party has never won the primaries, and the challenged incumbent has always gone on to lose the election. So it seems that everything is pointing to a duel between the geezers.

Youth is, of course, far from a guarantee of success, as one can see from the politics of Austria’s Former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. And age alone is no reason for disqualification. Even the senior Biden has the challenges of the future in mind, as his wide-reaching infrastructure program, climate legislation, relatively stable job market and professional contribution to management in Ukraine demonstrate.

Americans will probably have to wait for generational change, at least if the narcissist Trump manages to rally the Republicans for another candidacy.

The remaining 1 1/2 years until Election Day will be a huge challenge for Biden, who is voluntarily running again. But no matter how the election turns out, Republicans and Democrats alike must seriously ask themselves why they can’t offer a charismatic, constructive hope for the future who’s capable of winning a majority. No matter their age.

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