Why the Biden Campaign Can’t Ignore Concerns About His Age

This story originally took place Vanity fair.

Joe Biden was undoubtedly right to be angry on Thursday. Special Counsel Robert Hur had found no evidence he had committed crimes in his handling of classified documents, but instead made assessments in his report about the president's age and memory that seemed gratuitous, subjective, and perhaps even political in nature. “My memory is good,” Biden said indignantly at a press conference. press conferenceexpressing particular frustration at the report's suggestion that he did not remember the date of his son, Beau's death.

But Hur's characterization of Biden as an “older, well-meaning man with a bad memory” amplified a problem that already existed: while Biden's lawyers said the description was “neither accurate nor appropriate,” the 81-year-old president's age is a concern for voters, and his campaign has struggled to address it. “The most damaging things in politics are the ones that confirm people's pre-existing suspicions, and those are the things that travel very quickly,” David Axelrod said At New York Times. “It is a problem.”

It's worth emphasizing that any concerns about Biden's age are overshadowed by the grave danger his opponent, Donald Trump, poses to democracy. It must also be said that this supposedly “decreases” Biden demonstrates far greater knowledge and toughness of mind than Trump. But that doesn't mean Biden's age isn't an issue, and one that polls show worries many Americans. Indeed, an NBC News investigation earlier this week, more than 75% of voters, including half of Democrats, are concerned about Biden's ability to serve. By comparison, only about 48 percent of respondents had the same concerns about Trump's fitness. This is, of course, absurd: Trump, at 77, is about as old as Biden, and not only prone to verbal confusions (confusing Nancy Pelosi and Nikki Haley, for example), but exists in a constant state of mania.

The problem is that Trump has been like that. Although he clearly shows signs of his age, it can be difficult to separate the signs of his decline from the lies, delusions, and stupidity that are enduring characteristics. You can't lose what wasn't there in the first place. Biden might be held to a different standard. When he refers to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the president of Mexico, as he did during his provocative speech on Thursday, it boils down to a narrative that his memory is lacking. When Trump praise Hungarian strongman Viktor Orban as the “great leader of Turkey”, or apparently confuses Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un, or apparently they're mixing Biden and Barack Obama – well, that's just Trump.

That's unfair, especially since Biden's gaffes seem to get more attention than the command he usually shows the rest of the time. But Democrats shouldn't dismiss all of this on the grounds that the media is falling for the Republican Party's cynical arguments: There are real public concerns about both Biden's age and Biden's age. gerontocracy that he represents, and the campaign has not really appeased them. If anything, the Biden camp's apparent aversion to risk – most recently visible in the decision to broadcast a live interview before the Super Bowl – could contribute to this narrative.

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