Age isn’t Joe Biden’s problem. This distinction matters because they often differ.
My experience suggests they often go together. Though younger than the President, I see my knees and body deteriorating. According to my peers, memorizing names, which are usually unconnected to analytical threads, is harder.
In an intellectual discourse, I may read Why Liberalism Failed or another volume verbatim and dispute its concepts by, by, by… that person, whatshisname? If someone says “Deneen,” I may add “Patrick Deneen” and explain why I didn’t like the book, largely because it’s too rationalistic and treats politics like abstract notions.
I’m ok. I remember unreal experiences. On 9/11, a well-behaved crowd left the Capitol, where we were hosting a long-planned Sudan event. Many individuals informed me that we left the Rayburn House Office Building, not the Capitol.
This was a block away, so the main principles are genuine, but my memory had blurred something crucial, probably for drama. Politicians and renowned journalists who exaggerate or fake their criticism encounter this syndrome.
Mental capacities deteriorate with aging.
Did I say…?
Age is only one aspect.
My story follows 1930 Mississippi sharecropper John Perkins. He writes almost a book a year—more than me.
At 73, Konrad Adenauer became the first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, tasked with rebuilding a nation that had been ravaged four years before. Foreign military masters left him a divided, loathed nation. At 87, he retired.
He headed the CDU, which he co-founded, until he was 90. He was competent, regardless of your views. His critics said that he made most major decisions and used his ministers as tools. He was apolitical.
Longtime Pentagon Office of Net Assessment chief Andy Marshall. DoD think tank. It was a core organization—hence the “net” assessment—that combined resources to offer a global view. Brilliant Defense Department Yoda.
Major General Chen Zhou, the lead author of four Chinese defense white papers, claimed Marshall was one of the most important people in Chinese defense thought in the 1990s and 2000s in a 2012 interview. Defense policy’s “Yoda” was his Washington Post obituary. 94-year-old retired in 2015.
On May 27, Henry Kissinger turned 100. Though incorrect, he’s not done. He may still advise.
Nancy Pelosi was Speaker until 2022. She served until 81, two years after the President. CNN called her prime. Republicans, irritated by her political talents, may have wished she had emphasized more of Biden’s weaknesses, but she didn’t.
Her scurrilous tweets show she drinks a lot. If so, Democrats should follow Lincoln. In 1863, the New York Times reported that Lincoln told Gen. Grant that if he could find out what brand of whiskey he drank, he would send a barrel to all the commanders.
President Biden’s mental and physical health matter more than his age. He may stay awake. His formal morning and afternoon regimen is light. What if a Ukraine-released F-16 strikes Russian territory and Putin responds with a tactical nuclear strike on a sparsely populated area?
American presidents would have a horrible decision. FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, and Reagan—even at their best—could not respond. A drowsy, disoriented President receiving the return query is more frightening.
Avoid the American fixation with youth and urge to reject the elderly because they are old, as if this planet were founded yesterday and we can learn nothing from history. Elders may teach youth.
Older politicians succeed. Young people lack experience. Real-life Yodas are needed. We regret failing.
President Biden’s age shouldn’t concern us. His mental degeneration matters. Ability, not age, matters.