Yesterday, Ed Morrissey talked about a report in Politico where the current crop of Democratic candidates (along with President Trump) who are above the age of 70 were described as “super-agers” who are unlikely to die in office. These remarkably “privileged” people (that’s the word they used in the report) tend to have better health care, a comfortable financial situation and better odds to far outstrip the current life expectancy for their respective genders. Great news for them, right?
But now we learn that when Barack Obama was deciding on a VP pick back in 2008, Joe Biden told him that he was too old to run for the presidency again. And that was more than a decade ago. (Free Beacon)
Unlike Hillary Clinton, among others, Biden was seen as a safe choice in part because he lacked presidential ambitions and was unlikely to exploit the vice presidency to maneuver for a future White House run.
Biden, who leads the Democratic primary field, even went so far as to pledge his undying loyalty to Obama, and insisted that after two failed presidential campaigns, he had given up on trying to be president. Being Obama’s second-in-command would be his final act in politics. After all, he would be in his mid-70s by the end of Obama’s second term—too old to run again.
According to the Times, Biden told Obama aides that he viewed his vice presidency as “a capstone, not a catapult.”
Did Biden really mean it at the time? Tough to say. He was certainly good to his word and largely stayed in the background during the Obama presidency, never seeming to upstage the President. But it’s also possible that he was just saying what he thought Obama would like to hear. Keep in mind that Biden had been in the mix during the same primary, hoping to snag the nomination for himself. If Obama had suspected that Biden was angling for the veep position as a backdoor way to pave the path to his own eventual presidency, the 44th president might have passed on Biden and chosen someone with less obvious ambitions.
One could argue that Biden’s failure to challenge Hillary Clinton in 2016 was proof of his intentions along those lines, but he was also still mourning the death of his son. Besides, the entire party had already pretty much crowned Clinton as the historic First Female President, so he might have come up short again anyway.
You can make the case that Joe Biden certainly seems healthy for a man of his years, and that’s probably true. But is he still as mentally agile as he was decades ago? His endless list of verbal gaffes might argue otherwise. But then again, Biden’s been doing that since he first showed up in Washington. It’s kind of his calling card.
What I think Democrats find most frustrating about Joe Biden as the frontrunner is that they have to stave off concerns about his age. If a younger person was leading (or winds up getting the nomination next year) you can bet they will be talking about Donald Trump’s age and speculating about his mental stability. But if Biden is the nominee, that card is basically pulled from their hand. You can’t slam Trump for being too old and dismiss concerns about your own guy who is even older.
Frankly, I don’t worry too much about the age factor, despite already experiencing some of the pitfalls awaiting the elderly myself. (Speaking of which, did anyone see where I left my coffee cup?) If the next President, be it Trump or one of the Democrats, doesn’t live to finish their term or becomes somehow incapacitated, we have procedures in place to replace them. We’ve lost presidents before, some far younger than this crowd, and the Republic has somehow stubbornly marched on. As the saying goes, this too shall pass. And we’ll be fine in the end.