A couple of recent surveys make it obvious that voters are clear-eyed about President Biden’s capabilities and deficiencies. About two-thirds of Democratic voters in a New York Times survey would rather that Mr. Biden not run for president again. The same percentage of voters think he is simply too old to be president. No telling what the remaining one-third are thinking about.
Questions about whether Mr. Biden can campaign in 2024 are starting to percolate among his own team. The truth is, of course, he could barely campaign in 2020.
He remains in hiding, even from his allies in the legacy media. He has held just 16 news conferences since taking office, less than half as many as former Presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush had held at this point. The press conferences he has done have featured scripted questions from specific reporters. It seems likely that many of those questions have been pre-screened by the Office of Communications in the Executive Office of the President.
He has given just 38 interviews, far fewer than his predecessors going back to former President George H.W. Bush.
There is no such thing as weekend work, as those days are spent at his mansion in Greenville, Delaware, or his beach house at Rehoboth.
Despite or perhaps because of all that, a recent story in The New York Times included the following paragraph near the top: “In
interviews, some sanctioned by the White House and some not, more than a dozen current and former senior officials and advisers uniformly reported that President Biden remained intellectually engaged, asking smart questions at meetings, grilling aides on points of dispute, calling them late at night, picking out that weak point on Page 14 of a memo and rewriting speeches like his abortion remarks on Friday right up until the last minute.”
No one with access to a working screen of any type can believe this. There is no way anyone on either Team Biden or Team New York
Times can expect anyone with a working screen of any type to believe this. Yet, that’s what Team Biden said, and that’s what The New York Times printed without comment.
This story is a perfect example of why few trust the media. People see something clearly with their own eyes. The media then spends (in this case) almost 2000 words explaining how what you have seen and heard is not really what happened. It strains credulity.
Despite the clarity at the top that the president was as vigorous and intellectually alive as ever, the remainder of the story was dedicated to telling us about how his staff has to manage the teetering 79-year-old president.
The problem is “he looks old” or he “often shuffles when he walks” or “he stumbles over words.” Of course, he does all those things: He is an old man. Old men shuffle. Old men stumble over their words. Old men look old.
There is no sin in any of that. If we are lucky, all of us will become old and, if we live long enough, lose our physical and mental capacities.
The problem is a staff that must know the president’s current physical and mental capacities pose a risk to the nation but are not likely to volunteer that information because it would mean the trajectory of their personal careers would be altered.
The other problem is the media, which has ignored Mr. Biden’s obvious deterioration. In this instance, the reporter gamely toed the party line: “Everyone ages differently, of course, and some experts put Mr. Biden in a category of ‘super-agers’ who remain unusually fit as they advance in years.” Some experts? The reporter found one. “Right now, there’s no evidence that the age of Biden should matter one ounce,” said S. Jay Olshansky, a longevity specialist at the University of Illinois Chicago.
Is Mr. Olshansky watching the same show we are?
Let’s be honest. Mr. Biden wasn’t an intellectual force when he was in his prime. A middling student at middling schools and a senator who was wrong about foreign policy (his self-proclaimed area of expertise) more often than he was right.
Now, as his 80th birthday approaches (Nov. 20), it is obviously more challenging for voters to set aside reservations about his deficiencies. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask how can someone on the far side of 80, who is clearly diminished, run a campaign for president?
The answer is, of course, he can’t. The voters know this, even if Democrats and the legacy media pretend otherwise.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.