Joe Biden turned 79 last week. He started to look at his age.
The president walks a bit stiff now. His words, once clear, sometimes sound a bit vague. His grammar is always crappy; that hasn’t changed.
Like most of us, he will feel tired at the end of a long day.exist United Nations Climate Summit In Scotland, he sat in the seat of the conference hall and listened to the opening speech, and soon dozed off.
None of these seem to significantly affect his work.He signed $1 trillion last week Infrastructure ActThis is a feat that his predecessor could not accomplish when he was relatively young at 70.He is working on the Senate version of his big Social Expenditure Act; If it passes, he will receive most of the credit.
There is no evidence that he suffers from Alzheimer’s, no matter how cruel critics often clip together his gaffes. They seem to have forgotten Biden’s gaffe in the past half a century.
However, the age of the president still creates a political burden-he does not need such a burden when many voters are dissatisfied with him.
Voters, especially the elderly who have noticed that their abilities have been eroded, worry that older people like Biden will not be able to do the job.He often faced this problem when he first started His third election The 2019 presidential candidate. His response was often to challenge the questioner, including an 83-year-old Iowa farmer who participated in a push-up competition.
Unlike a young president, he must demonstrate his ability to sustain himself every month. unfair? Not really; the people he works for have the right to demand.
This is where Biden’s White House does not serve him particularly well.
The president’s six-day trip to Europe had a cruel schedule. During the long days, he met dozens of other leaders and called Washington to ask Congress to vote on his spending bill.
All important priorities-but one result is that a picture of a tired president goes viral on the Internet.
In different contexts, this matter may be trivial. CNN chivalrously found old footage of President Reagan dozing off during a meeting with the Pope, which is arguably worse.
It is not wise to appear before the public as the sleepy Joe Biden in real life for a president whose opponents in the last campaign called him “Drowsy Joe Biden.” If he needs to sit in that conference hall, he should have an assistant beside him ready to kick him under the table.
Despite his advanced age and eccentric personality, it is undeniable that Biden has performed well in many public events. He can deliver fixed speeches well, especially when he restrains his urge to get out of the text.
He is good at debates, town halls and press conferences, at least when he is well rested and well prepared. In 2020, he won the only face-to-face debate with Donald Trump.
At a CNN city hall last month, he made a reliable sales promotion for his spending bills, even though his grammar was sometimes messy. As a port truck driver, he described the policies of Taiwan and the National Guard in different ways; it was the old-fashioned Biden.
But he is not so good when standing idly by, or when he is challenged by a problem he considers hostile. And, as we have seen in Europe, he is not good when he gets tired.
This is an example of how Biden and his staff can learn from a successful Republican predecessor.
Reagan faced age issues during his re-election campaign in 1984, when he was only 73 years old. In a debate with Democrat Walter Mundell, he joked: “I will not take age as an issue in this campaign. I will not take advantage of the youth and lack of experience of my opponent for political purposes.”
More importantly, Reagan’s wife Nancy and his closest assistant, Michael Deaver, Imposed strict discipline on his schedule to ensure that he always looked his best when he was on stage.
We now know that Reagan was battling the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at the end of his term, but he found a way to make up for his weakness. His actor’s discipline and his willingness to rely on powerful assistants enabled him to forcefully complete two terms, and won praise for bringing the Cold War to an end.
Now the times are different, and the president is also different.
Biden, who has long been known for his stubborn winning streak, is not as willing to accept stage guidance as Reagan.
“There is one thing I learned quickly,” a former assistant told me. “You won’t tell Joe Biden what to say.”
But if he wants to complete his ambitious agenda—Roosevelt-scale domestic plans, reformed foreign policy, and possibly even running for election when he is almost 82 years old—he might consider learning this approach.