4th of July Party | The question of Biden’s age

(New York) The United States Constitution sets 35 as the minimum age for election to the presidency of the country. But it doesn’t set a maximum age, which worries many Americans.

Posted at 8:00 p.m

Richard Hetu

Richard Hetu
special cooperation

“I hope there’s an age limit,” ex-President Jimmy Carter joked in September 2019 while answering a question about the presidential candidates of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who at the time were 76 and 78, respectively, on the clock.

“If I were only 80 years old, if I were 15 years younger, I don’t think I could take on the roles that I knew as president,” the 90-year-old added more seriously.

According to a YouGovAmerica poll released last January, a majority of American voters — 58%, to be exact — believe that a maximum age should be imposed on all candidates, regardless of office.

A month earlier, entrepreneur Elon Musk had proposed an age limit below 70 that would now discourage 30% of US senators from trying for new seats.

The entire Democratic House staff, which includes three octogenarians — Nancy Pelosi, 82, Steny Hoyer, 83, and James Clyburn, 81, would also be forced into retirement.

On November 20, Joe Biden will reach the age at which Jimmy Carter believes he would no longer have been fit to serve as President. If he runs for president again in 2024, as he plans to do, and defeats his Republican opponent, he will be 82 on his inauguration day. But when you consider that few jobs are aging as fast as the American presidency, what will 2026 or 2028 look like? And, more importantly, how will it work?


PHOTO KEVIN D LILES, NEW YORK TIMES ARCHIVES

Former President Jimmy Carter, in 2015, who is now 97 years old.

“Democratic Whisper”

More and more Democrats are asking themselves these questions. the New York Times recently reported on that poll in an article with a title that must have irritated the White House chief: “Should Biden run in 2024? Democrat murmurs begin to rise and say ‘no’.”

Even some of his defense attorneys have said so Times Words that must have seemed too frank in Joe Biden’s eyes.

“The presidency is a tremendously tiring job and the harsh reality is that by the end of a second term the president would be more likely to be 90 than 80 and that would be a big problem,” said David Axelrod, strategist for Barack Obama’s two successful presidential campaigns.

After explaining that Joe Biden didn’t get the credit he deserved for his accomplishments, Axelrod added, “And part of the reason [de cette situation] related to looks. »

He’s looking his age and isn’t as nimble in front of a camera as he used to be, and this has fueled a narrative about his abilities that isn’t based on reality.

David Axelrod, strategist for Barack Obama’s two successful presidential campaigns

This narrative framework has long since exceeded the bounds of decency in some conservative media. These depict Joe Biden as a senile old man who is being told what to say and what to do and still wanders off reading his teleprompter. Some elected Republicans are adding a layer of their own, but others refuse to come down to their level. “In both meetings I’ve had with the President, his mind was as sharp as a razor blade,” West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito said last March.

Nevertheless, the question of Joe Biden’s age would become inevitable after the official announcement of his re-election campaign. The magazine The Atlantic gave a taste of that possible debate last month by publishing an article under the byline of Mark Leibovich that began with this paragraph: “Let me tell you bluntly: Joe Biden should not be running for re-election in 2024. He’s too old. »

No age discrimination

For Quebec geriatrician David Lussier, such a debate would not necessarily fall under ageism.

“What is certain is that at 82 [ou 86 ans à la fin de son mandat], the energy is lower than someone younger,” he analyzed, referring to Joe Biden. “So he might find it difficult to work long days. But it varies greatly from person to person. »

The Dright Lussier mentions another source of concern caused by old age. Certain cognitive functions, including those related to execution speed or the ability to do multiple things at once, decline.

“For a job as demanding as that of President of the United States, that could be a problem. But again, it varies a lot from person to person. »

In other words, the reality of Joe Biden at age 80 will not necessarily be that of Jimmy Carter or Donald Trump, who will reach that age in 2026 in the White House or at Mar-a-Lago.

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