Biden at 79: Questions of age and 2024 renewed as president celebrates birthday

President Joe Biden’s 79th birthday has renewed questions on his bodily well being, psychological acuity, and succession plans as Vice President Kamala Harris, his inheritor obvious, comes underneath much more scrutiny.


Aides half Biden’s age have struggled within the White Home’s strain cooker work atmosphere, in keeping with Cesar Conda, a Republican strategist and former Vice President Dick Cheney’s onetime home coverage adviser.

“That’s why staffers final just one to 2 years,” Conda mentioned of “the extremely high-stress” office.

Biden’s bodily and psychological health because the nation’s oldest president ever was underscored this week not solely by his birthday however the first annual checkup of his time period. It additionally piqued curiosity in Harris as the following Democratic Get together standard-bearer after Biden transferred energy to her for 85 minutes whereas he was underneath anesthesia for a colonoscopy.

White Home press secretary Jen Psaki was needled Friday relating to contemporary Politico /Morning Seek the advice of polling this week that discovered a majority of respondents don’t agree Biden is in “good well being.”

“I am unable to communicate to the assessments of voters,” Psaki mentioned. “There’s actually fairly a little bit of conspiracy theory-pushing on the market on an array of social media platforms and even by the mouths of elected officers, so that might actually be a root trigger.”

When he turned president, Biden was older than Ronald Reagan when he left workplace. And, regardless of White Home protestations, there’s a sense that Biden’s bodily and psychological skills are “beginning to fail,” in keeping with historian and Reagan biographer Craig Shirley.

“Psychological acuity just isn’t one thing one ever will get higher from — solely a matter of how worse and the way quickly,” Shirley mentioned.

However Biden following Donald Trump, beforehand the oldest president, is symptomatic of societal adjustments and medical advances, in keeping with David Greenberg, one other historian and fellow political commentator.

“Though decline just isn’t unusual, additionally it is widespread to be performing at a really excessive stage in a single’s 80s and even, in some instances, one’s 90s,” Greenberg mentioned.

As Biden and Harris’s general job approval scores plummet, Republican strategist John Feehery contended Biden’s “feebleness, not inflation,” is driving down his numbers. On common, about two-fifths of respondents approve of Biden, whereas 53% disapprove, in keeping with RealClearPolitics. Harris’s favorability roughly aligns with that of her boss.

“Most voters simply do not feel that snug with Biden on the driver’s wheel,” Feehery mentioned. “Most voters additionally assume that Biden just isn’t operating once more, which is why a lot consideration is being paid to Harris.”

“The extra Biden hides from the media, the extra individuals speculate about his well being. However, equally, the extra he seems in public, the extra individuals speculate about his well being,” the press secretary to former Home Speaker Dennis Hastert added. “Biden’s handlers have a no-win scenario.”

Biden has insisted he’ll contest the presidency once more in 2024. And Greenberg, a Rutgers College historical past, journalism, and media research professor, thought-about it “very early” for Biden to announce a reelection marketing campaign.

If Biden doesn’t declare his candidacy, Greenberg concurred that Harris is his inheritor obvious, a common sample established since World Battle II with Richard Nixon, Herbert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush, and Al Gore.

“However that could be a very modest declare, as a result of all that is saying is that there isn’t a one on the market who’s an apparent, most well-liked various,” Greenberg mentioned. “You will be the front-runner and have the chances in opposition to you.”

For Shirley, a Republican strategist, vice presidents-turned-commanders in chief have a combined observe file, starting from Harry Truman and Calvin Coolidge to John Tyler.

“Different VPs went by simply as a lot scrutiny as Harris, and criticism was nice, though she will get a cross due to the liberalness of the nationwide media and the info of her intercourse and race and politics,” Shirley mentioned, an opinion with which the White Home disagrees.

Conda, the previous Cheney aide, likened Harris to Dan Quayle, who as soon as quipped he had “made good judgments previously” and “sooner or later.”

“Like Quayle, I don’t suppose Harris’s picture can get better,” Conda mentioned. “She’s been on the nationwide political scene for years, and perceptions of her skills, or lack thereof, are already baked within the cake.”

Biden is predicted to spend his birthday at his million-dollar Delaware seaside home after a busy week touring to battleground states to advertise his $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal and the Home passing his $2 trillion partisan social welfare and local weather spending invoice. The broader measure nonetheless must clear the Senate, an unsure prospect due to centrist Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

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