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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Former GOP National Security Officials Blast Trump, Endorse Biden
Photo by Gage Skidmore/ CC BY 2.0

As far as I’m concerned, Joe Biden is a national hero: the savior of our democracy, and as decent a man as has ever occupied the Oval Office. They ought to put up his statue on courthouse squares across America.

But Biden should not run for re-election in 2024.

It’s time for those of us born during the FDR administration to stand down. I’d favor a constitutional amendment requiring the president to be not just over 35 but under 75.

As fit and lively as he is—every other over-70 bicyclist I know who’s taken a fall has been hustled straight to the emergency room—Biden will be 80 on his next birthday. He’d be 82 during the 2024 campaign, and 86 at the end of his second term.

Assuming he lives that long, which Biden’s more apt to do if he’s taking walks on the beach with his grandchildren instead of flying off for stressful meetings in Saudi Arabia or South Korea.

Biden shouldn’t do it to himself, and he shouldn’t do it to the country. As I wrote in 2019 urging him not to run against Donald Trump: “Anybody in their mid-70s who tries to tell you they don’t feel the transmission slipping as time’s winged chariot draws nearer is definitely bluffing. Maybe your judgment’s sounder, but your memory’s not what it was, solving complex problems is more difficult, and new ideas are harder to absorb.”

But you know what? Biden was right about being the only Democrat who could defeat Donald Trump in 2020, and I was wrong.

Hard to believe, I know. But also a fact.

None of this is to endorse the poisonous slanders of Republicans portraying the president as a feeble-minded marionette whose strings are being pulled by George Soros, Antifa, “The Squad,” or whatever other puppeteers the right-wing imagination has conjured. If my emails are any indication, embittered Trumpists will believe anything, the crazier the better.

Joe Biden demented? Get back to me when he recommends injecting bleach as a Covid-19 cure, talks about Revolutionary War airports, or brags about imaginary big-league tryouts with Hall of Fame first-basemen.

But yes, the president’s approval ratings have sunk to near Trumpian levels. Former Obama strategist David Axlerod put it this way in a New York Times interview:

“Biden doesn’t get the credit he deserves for steering the country through the worst of the pandemic, passing historic legislation, pulling the NATO alliance together against Russian aggression and restoring decency and decorum to the White House…And part of the reason he doesn’t is performative. He looks his age and isn’t as agile in front of a camera as he once was, and this has fed a narrative about competence that isn’t rooted in reality.”

Alas, to millions of Americans, government is TV show, and they’ve always got the remote in their hands, anxious to change channels. Many have already forgotten that Biden took office in January 2021, Covid was killing thousands of Americans every day, unemployment was rampant and the economy in steep recession.

Today, the pandemic is pretty much under control, and the job market is the strongest in more than fifty years. Thanks in large part to the Democrats’ post-Covid stimulus plan, tens of millions have paying jobs who didn’t have them two years ago, and worker shortages are a serious problem in some sectors of the economy.

But, yes, rising prices are a bigger problem, even if semi-hysterical media coverage has reached downright comic proportions. My favorite blogger Kevin Drum put it this way: “High inflation is damaging, but not nearly as damaging as high unemployment. After all, would you rather have a job along with higher prices, or be unemployed with stable prices? The question answers itself.”

Unless you work for CNN, NBC and the rest. You can’t hardly turn on the TV anymore without seeing somebody fueling up a 5000-pound, $80,000 SUV and whining about the high price of gasoline.

CNN actually ran a recent news feature about the impact of expensive gasoline on the “Van Life” subculture. Datelined, Baja California, Mexico, CNN interviewed couples living in schoolbus-sized RVs on the beach but feeling the pinch. Everybody involved kept perfectly straight faces. (CNN didn’t say so, but gasoline is marginally cheaper in Mexico.)

Anyway, Mr. President, you don’t need this. You’ve done your bit.

Writing the The Atlantic, veteran correspondent Mark Liebovich put it this way: “Biden could instantly burnish his own legacy by opting out of 2024… He would be praised for knowing when to step aside, for putting the interests of his party and country before himself, and for selflessly turning things over to the next acts…. Everyone loves an elder statesman. A historic credit would be due to Joe Biden.”

You never see a Hall of Fame ballplayer retire without tears in his eyes. But when it’s time, it’s time.

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