A friend asked her therapist whether her new romantic interest, 17 years her senior, was "too old." He responded, "Too old for what?"
Those wise words could also apply to President Joe Biden, about whom many are asking the same question. Pushing 80, Biden may be slower than he was. Then again, he's not a contestant on Jeopardy. A president needs a deep well of knowledge and good people to handle the details. Biden seems to have both.
This is not a call for Biden to seek a second presidential term. It is just to say that right now, he is clearly not too old to serve as chief executive of the United States.
There's a bit of hypocrisy on the political fringes when it comes to the ages of their heroes. On the left we have Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is a year older than Biden. Progressive youth worship him still. That Sanders actually suffered a heart attack during the 2020 campaign didn't deter his supporters, nor did it cause most of the media to rule him out.
After Sanders lost the Democratic nomination, his campaign announced that he might run again in 2024. Sanders says that would be "very, very unlikely."
On the right we have Donald Trump. Trump is only two years younger than Biden and seriously overweight. I'd like to see Trump even get on the bicycle that Biden fell off. As president, Trump's most memorable achievement was nearly breaking the democracy.
Youth, meanwhile, is not necessarily a guarantor of superior mental acuity. The youngest member of congress, 26-year-old Madison Cawthorn, is a lunatic.
In any case, if younger people want to challenge the older officeholders, good for them. However, no one has an obligation to, as the ambitious juniors like to say to, "step aside for the next generation." Let the voters decide who can best do the job.
Young challengers would do themselves a service by not flogging their opponents over their age. Did you hear that, Joe Cunningham?
Cunningham is a Democrat who accomplished the feat of winning South Carolina's 1st congressional district for a term. Now running for governor against the incumbent, Republican Henry McMaster, Cunningham is proposing a 72-year age limit for South Carolina politicians. McMaster just happens to be 75.
I hope Cunningham wins, but playing the age card is simply not great politics. For starters, there are a lot of 72-year-old voters. They may not like hearing 40-year-old Cunningham complain that politics in our country are run by a "geriatric oligarchy."
Furthermore, there are all kinds of 72-year-olds. Some are frail; others beat millennials in tennis. Being the chief executive of a state (or a country) does not require athletic ability. Franklin Roosevelt, paralyzed since age 39, guided America through the Great Depression and World War II while in a wheelchair.
In proposing an age limit, Cunningham couldn't possibly have been referring to Rep. Jim Clyburn, the 82-year-old Democratic power broker from his own state. Clyburn is No. 3 in the House leadership and seems to be doing just fine.
It's true that Biden's approval rating currently scrapes the depths, but that surely reflects Americans' generally foul mood. It also reflects his administration's pathetic communications skills.
That's why it hasn't sunk in that under Biden, America has created almost 10 million jobs, and COVID deaths are down 90%. Nor does the public fixate on how skillfully Biden has guided support for Ukraine while minimizing escalation with Russia.
As Barack Obama famously said, "Don't compare me to the almighty. Compare me to the alternative."
Biden has a history of being counted out until he sweeps away the alternatives. It's too early to count him out.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.
Reprinted with permission from Creators.
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