NY Times discovers Joe Biden is 'super old'

The NY Times has a podcast called “Matter of Opinion” which features four opinion writers, Michelle Cottle, Ross Douthat, Carlos Lozada and Lydia Polgreen, discussing various issues as a group. This week’s episode is titled “We Need to Talk About Joe Biden” and not surprisingly his age is one of the first issues to come up.

Carlos Lozada: Michelle, you’re our politics guru. Looking at 2024 in particular, what’s going on with Joe Biden?

Michelle Cottle: Ooh, there are so many challenges, some of which aren’t really his fault and some of which he needs to take the lion’s share of the blame for. If we just look at the kind of top line ones, one, it’s not his fault, but the country is still and basically a sour, anxious mood post-pandemic. If you are president of the United States, you’re going to take a hit for that.

And then, whether fair or not, everybody thinks he’s too old. Now, it’s not just that he is old. He seems old. He seems old, and he seems frail, which is what matters in politics. You can have a Bernie Sanders. You can have an Elizabeth Warren. You can have a Donald Trump, who is almost as old as Biden. But instead of seeming frail, Trump always seems to be a toddler whose head is about to explode…

I mean, the staid, reasonable, balanced worked in his favor last time around. People wanted a departure from a complete lunatic. But four years in this job ages everybody. I mean, whether you start out young like a Bill Clinton or you already have a jump on maturity. You’re going to come out of that first term worn down. And he moves differently than he used to. When he speaks, it’s a little bit different than it used to be. So I do think that there are specific concerns about whether or not he is just going to have a hard time doing four more years.

Lydia Polgreen: Well, I think also, I’ve had a lot of conversations lately with both Democratic lawmakers who’ve spent time with the president lately and also big Democratic donors. And the thing that they tell me is that he seems super old, super slow, and in some ways, they kind of don’t even look forward to spending time with the president, which is like a weird thing.

Like, usually, it’s like a real big deal to spend time with the president because he’s just kind of rambling. And so if the people who are in your party and serving for office and also the people who are writing checks to keep you in office are like, I don’t really want to hang out with this guy because he’s a bit of a bummer, can we really blame the voters?…

Ross Douthat: Yeah, right now, I think the Democrats’ problem of Biden being president again, it’s eclipsed by the problem of him running for president again in this condition.

Pretty interesting to hear someone on the left say that even behind the scenes people are saying Biden seems old and slow. For a while now the claim has been that, whatever he looks like in public, in private he was as sharp as a tack. But it sounds like that’s not the case at all. In private, he’s the same guy we’re seeing in public.

The discussion moved on to why Biden seems to be doing so badly in the polls (other than his age). This led to a discussion of wages and inflation. It’s true that inflation has been coming down lately but Carlos Lozada made a good point:

…the thing about inflation is that we say inflation is coming down, which is true. That doesn’t mean prices are coming down, right? Inflation is a rate of increase of prices.

So if you have a big jump in inflation, right, that mean prices go from here to up here. Then you say, oh, inflation is coming down. True, but all that means is that the rate of increase of prices is slowing. So it’s not like prices come back down to where you felt comfortable with them. So they’re completely right, the Biden people, when they say, look, inflation is much, much lower. That doesn’t mean prices are dropping.

My own feeling is that these two issues are the bulk of why he’s doing so poorly in polls. People are grumpy about inflation which the administration said would be transitory but wasn’t. On top of that, the guy in charge seems old and slow and not really up to it anymore. That makes him vulnerable and it also means there’s probably nothing much he can do about it. Inflation may drop further but Joe Biden will be another year older before the next election and there’s just no way that helps him.

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