Joe Biden’s age is not his problem

And to hear the recent political chatter, you might consider these two facts to be directly related. Opponents called Biden too weak for Oval Office demands; his allies began pushing him into retirement.

Still, it represents Republican opportunism and Democratic nervousness ahead of the November election rather than a plausible assessment of cause and effect. Without a doubt, Biden’s age complicates his hopes of winning another term. It has nothing to do with his problems in this one.

Consider the problems, which began to multiply a year ago, when most Americans still approved of his professional performance.

Around the same time, the Delta variant sparked a resurgence in coronavirus infections. Biden’s age hasn’t made the once-in-a-century pandemic unpredictable, or so many Republicans hostile to life-saving vaccines that could hasten its end.
More bad news came at the end of the year. After long and tortuous negotiations, the centerpiece of the president’s economic agenda has collapsed on Capitol Hill.

Since Biden launched his third bid for the White House, progressive Democrats have worried about the septuagenarian’s prospects as well as his physical stamina. Specifically, they feared he had outdated views about the value of negotiating with congressional Republicans.

In reality, Biden has won a few bipartisan victories, from infrastructure spending in 2021 to gun safety legislation this year. He wavered on the goal he shares with progressives and nearly every other Democrat: major investments to improve climate change and help struggling families, funded by higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
The reason for this failure is simple. In an equally divided Senate, Democrats cannot afford to lose a single vote on party priorities. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who represents a coal state that has opposed Biden by an overwhelming margin, held firm.
In recent months, soaring inflation has kept Biden politically out of breath. But price growth fell short of 9.1% annualized in last week’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report, as the president will soon enter his ninth decade.
Inflation has surged, here and around the world, from the toxic combination of pandemic disruption and excess consumer demand. Evidence points to Biden contributing to the problem through his oversized $1.9 trillion US bailout package.

But neither that initial error, nor later errant assessments that inflation would be “transient,” were unique to the elderly chief executive. Like Biden with his fiscal largesse, Federal Reserve Chairman (10 years younger) Jerome Powell had until recently maintained expansionary monetary policies in hopes of avoiding a lukewarm post-pandemic recovery.

Like most economic forecasters, they did not expect inflation to last long. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – which continued the pattern of cross-border aggression established by Vladimir Putin in 2008 – has made matters worse by further increasing food and energy costs.
For young Americans, the bitterest source of recent disappointment has come from the United States Supreme Court. Democratic voters and politicians were quick to blame Biden for his lack of “urgency” and “combat” after the court’s conservative majority struck down the federal constitutional right to abortion.

But that’s just frustration talking. Presidents can no more want to overrule Supreme Court decisions than they can fight with guns to drive down gas prices.

Biden also cannot “abolish” the Senate filibuster to overcome Republican opposition to abortion or the right to vote without more Democratic senators willing to follow. From the nature of the Senate to the Electoral College, Democrats have faced structural obstacles to majority rule that are much older than the occupant of the White House.
For years, fear of Democratic majorities fueled the Republican Party’s turn toward extremism. It produced a violent insurgency against the post-election transfer of power even before Biden was sworn in.
Rejected in 2012, this diagnosis of GOP ills has now become undeniable
It turns out that Republican extremism could end up helping Biden’s party avoid political disaster this fall. If not, it would only continue a century-old pattern that recently punished Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton (at 48) and Barack Obama (at 49) in their first midfield contests. -mandate.

Biden’s age is clouding his 2024 re-election prospects in any case. He looks like the oldest president, walking stiffer and speaking more hesitantly than just a few years ago.

And voters have good reason to care. With each passing year, even healthy octogenarians face high risks of medical setbacks and mental decline.

But a cursory glance at political conditions in other countries makes it clear that, at least for now, Biden’s physical condition does not explain his political condition.

French President Emmanuel Macron (44) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (50) are among the fittest and most dynamic heads of state in the world. Recent measures of their popularity match Biden’s position in the most recent CNN average of major national polls: 39% approve, 58% disapprove.