DANIEL VAUGHAN: Democrats and press make Biden’s age an issue for 2024

Over the weekend, President Biden had a birthday and turned 80 years old. He’s the first President ever to reach that age in office, and “of the 45 men to serve as president, he is only the twelfth to live that long.” It’s quite a milestone, all things considered. That’s why it was worth noting that the liberal press is now writing articles raising Biden’s age as an issue for 2024.

Democrats turn to 2024.

The midterms have just passed, but everyone is turning their attention to 2024. That means everyone is looking at Biden again and wondering if he has what it takes for another run. Before the midterms, Democrats were already raising the idea of moving on from Biden. Now, the press is pushing this out as a real issue and not just something conservatives mention.

Dan McLaughlin puts Biden’s age in perspective at National Review: “Biden was elected to the United States Senate the year Richard Nixon was reelected, while the Vietnam War was still ongoing and the average price of a gallon of gas in the United States was 36 cents. He turned 40 years old in 1982, and his first presidential campaign collapsed in 1987. He was 49 when the Soviet Union dissolved, 50 when Bill Clinton was inaugurated, 57 for Y2K, 65 when he was elected vice president at the end of the George W. Bush presidency.”

Press questions Biden’s age.

The New York Times published a piece on Biden’s birthday and, in typical Times fashion, trotted out the “experts.” The Times said they “spoke to 10 experts in aging to paint a picture of what the next six years might look like for a person of the president’s age.”

Why did they do this? The Times writes, “left unsaid is that Mr. Biden would be 86 at the end of a second term, should he run in 2024 and win — a fact that his critics have seized upon and that gives even some Democrats pause.” Those Democrats include people in the White House, who are dialing back Biden’s international travel because he can’t keep up with the pace.

But it wasn’t just the New York Times talking about age; the new wire services were talking about the same thing. Reuters ran a story asking, “How old is too old?” Reuters also spoke to “experts” who said that Biden was acceptable.

Biden testing fate?

The Associated Press ran a story about Biden testing fate, using the President’s own words to suggest that. The AP interviewed people in the White House who said,” ‘We’re going to have discussions about [running for President again],’ he said. Aides expect those conversations to pick up in earnest over Thanksgiving and Christmas, with a decision not until well after New Year’s.”

The Wall Street Journal published a piece with the headline: “As Biden Turns 80, Some Democrats See Age as Issue for Potential 2024 Bid: The president has called himself a bridge to a new generation, but some in his party say it is time to step aside.” Barron’s added that Biden’s birthday “put his age back in the spotlight.”

Even NPR was asking whether Biden was too old. The BBC chipped in with a piece suggesting which Democrats could challenge Biden in 2024.

These pieces are not right-wing media, except for National Review. I’ve shared mainstream news sources all pivoting on one point on President Biden’s birthday: his age and whether he is too old. The press is signaling that they’re worried about his age, as are the Democrats who read those outlets.

The Presidency is a hard job.

Asking Biden to remain at the top of his game through the end of a second term is a lot to ask of anyone. It’s even more to ask when you’re in the White House. No President goes into that job and looks the same at the end. The office is challenging and high-pressure on a daily basis.

These points aren’t partisan blinders; it’s just reality in analyzing the situation. But Democrats are getting nervous. In fact, Democrats are getting so insecure about Biden’s age that they’re raising Trump’s age in comparison. Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted, “Just throwing out there. For everyone who is arguing the reason [President] shouldn’t run again is because of his age…you know Donald Trump is 76 right?”

Are Democrats trying to push Biden out?

Yes, Jen, we know that. We know that Donald Trump is younger than Joe Biden. We also know that Nancy Pelosi is 82, and she’s stepping down from House leadership. The same is true of the other top two spots in the House, where Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn are stepping down from leadership, recommending a new age of leadership.

That leaves us with the point of all these stories and hand-wringing among Democrats. Do Democrats want Biden to run again, or do they want to push him aside? It’s impossible to tell, but the sheer volume of stories suggests that Democrats are trying to indicate to Biden and his team that he should step down.

Does Biden get the memo? Do Democrats even have the political leverage to move on from Biden? All of these are open questions. But it’s clear there’s been a shift in the media coverage of Biden’s age, and it’s not in his favor. That’s not the gift he was likely expecting on his 80th birthday.