Listen now | Personal thoughts about whether he should run again
I'm your age, Dr. Reich, and I, too, think my generation — including Bill and Hillary, George W., Trump, Newt Gingrich, Clarence Thomas, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Biden – have fucked it up royally. But it's not simply a matter of age: I'd take you or Bernie over DeSantis or MTG any day of the week. I'd take Biden over any of the GQP. He'd not be my first choice, just as he wasn't my first choice in the primaries, but up against any of the ReThuglicans, I'd vote for him. In fact, I'd vote for him over any of the few Republicans who actually still have a sense of honor, like Liz Cheney , Adam Kinzinger, or Mitt Romney: they'd still be to the right of him. The big question is: who do the Democrats have among their younger members who can win?
Biden isn't on the 2022 ballot. Let's get the 2022 election taken care of before we talk about who should be running in 2024. That is critical and should be our current focus.
This is a big topic, and I'm going to write some thoughts that cannot be fully developed but which I'll try to outline briefly. I'm a geriatrician; when we look at people over, say, 60, chronologic age is not a good predictor of function. There is a big variation in function among people who share chronologic age cohorts. It's quite different from the predictability of what is considered normal for children and teenagers of specific ages.
While there are things that are considered parts of normal aging, such as a predictable delay in word/name recall, these are not signs of developing dementia. Forgetting where one put something is done by people of all ages, but in our current culture we tend to obsess about it if a person is older. Some years ago a young person (early twenties) in a writing group I'm in forgot completely about a Skype meeting and came scooting in late, with profuse apologies, saying "I totally forgot! My mind just went blank!" I thanked her, saying I absolutely love it when a young person forgets—had it been me, people would start talking about taking away my car keys.
There is nothing essentially wise or skillful about being young or younger.
What we need are skills and function. Does Biden have them? Does someone else have a better combination?
The Democratic Party is over-filled with corporate types who both are incapable of doing a good job for ordinary Americans and who also just don't come across as genuine (for good reason). Some of our governors come to mind, as well as some of the people in the current cabinet. Flailing around looking for "attractive" "young" people isn't the way to go. We need people who have wisdom and political experience. Not just a good looking face and the ability to be elected a few times. In recent decades we've had too many inexperienced presidents, of both parties.
Whom do you like? You mentioned Sherrod Brown, who struck me as good in the past, but he has held back and not been willing to run. Is he? If we're going to name specific people, I don't think Buttigieg has what it takes, nor does Newsom. We need someone who can connect with working people. And who has some wisdom.
Stop attacking Biden for his age. Come up with real candidates, if you want someone else. If all you can do is come up with younger people and talk about the fact that you can't play a good game of tennis anymore, you're off the track. Seriously.
In my view, the question of whether Biden should run again should be deferred until after the midterms. Meantime, I understand that Senate Democratic leadership presently is whipping votes to pass whichever budget reconciliation provisions (BBB) can gain support from 50 Senators. As stated previously, I would advise that the legislation that passes be presented to voters as a down payment of more to come if Dems hold the House and pick up at least 2 Senate seats.
Though, admittedly, Biden connects less well with audiences when reading from a teleprompter, still, while the Senate does its work, a tougher, stronger Biden needs to amplify the Senate’s efforts by engaging everyday people nationwide and asking, “Who do you want here—somebody who doesn’t want to cut the price of insulin or those who do?” “Somebody who doesn’t want to expand the child tax credit or those who do?” Doesn’t want to provide affordable, quality childcare and universal Pre-K or those who do?” Doesn’t want to make investments in housing, in eldercare, and in climate or those who do?”
Because I believe that Democrats have a compelling narrative, if only they would deliver it, between now and the midterms, we, their constituents, need to have a felt sense that there are serious discussions with serious people engaged in an honest effort to arrive at compromises that will improve life for tens of millions of working people. Additionally, seeing that young people between 18 and 30 mainly are concerned about climate, gun control, and reproductive rights, and also fear losing increasingly more rights overall, Biden needs aggressively to enact whatever executive orders he can to show, unequivocally, that he is in this fight with us.
I’m your age and marvel at how some old woman manages to jump in front of the camera every time someone takes a picture of me. It’s interesting that I feel like the same young me on the inside, but the inevitable effects of time and gravity are screaming otherwise.
I also wondered why, with everyone wearing masks, I had such trouble hearing conversations. It took me a while to realize I had been reading lips - probably for quite a while - before masks.
Then there’s the language issue. My words, in many instances, relate to reference points no longer in existence. After one of my reconstructive surgeries for arthritis, I commented to the young woman at reception, “It won’t be long before we’re completely bionic.” The blank expression on her 20 something sweet face informed me she’d never seen The Six Million Dollar Man with Lee Majors.
The companies neatly listed on my old CV don’t exist anymore (victims of mergers and acquisitions). Does anyone even know what a ditto machine is?
So, the question is… do we have relevance? Yes, there’s a lot to be said for experience. But, if that experience is no longer relevant or relatable to others, are we obsolete? Does someone who’s pushing 80 possess the vitality to compete?
For me character matters. An older, experienced individual with integrity - one who has paid his/her dues and can see the overview, as well as the particular. A person who has a balanced perspective, whose actions match their words, and their words don’t swing from one side to the other with every wayward breeze.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom!
I believe, Dr. Reich, people like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and yourself of course, should help to prepare a new generation of Democrats to win and preserve Social Justice. Your guidance is what many young men and women may need when it comes to politics. On how to deal with Massive Media, how to not let yourself get drowned by some Trumpster in a debate. I know this may be too general speaking, but I believe your advices must count for something and nothing to better for it than a new generation of young leaders that bring us back Hope.
How Biden maintains his cool when dealing with McConnell or Manchin is an excellent question. But my problem with that is more about WHY he is dealing with them at all?
Bipartisanship doesn’t exist any longer (and yes, I know Manchin calls himself a Democrat, but really!) How can you reach across the aisle to people you simply cannot trust? How do you reason with the completely unreasonable, (and in some cases, the completely insane?)
The time for reaching across the aisle is gone. At least for now. Until the Republican Party regains some kind of decency, civility and rationality, there is no dealing with them.
How can Biden deal with a man who prevented a former Democratic president from seating a Supreme Court Justice, as was his right, claiming “because it was an election year.” Yet when a Republican president has an opportunity to seat a Justice not one month before the actual election, suddenly this new, arbitrary rule flies out the window? He’s deceitful, traitorous and he’s been in the senate for FAR too damn long. He’s one man, and he has controlled this country and held up progress and harmed the most vulnerable, and Biden making deals with him doesn’t just confuse me, it makes me angry.
I’d rather see the filibuster obliterated and let Democrats pass what they can to help the American People while they can. Build up the Supreme Court and set term limits, codify Roe v Wade and enact serious climate policies to reverse the extreme damage Trump and Republicans have done. (I worry every day for my son’s future, and for all those his age or younger.)
If your generation fucked things up royally, my generation didn’t do a damn thing to try and fix it. They sailed along, more worried about Y2K than real problems (I include myself in here.) The county where I live is predominantly Republican, and they’ve used their vote as a weapon against against everyone’s best interests for years. I know many who don’t so much as vote FOR Republicans but AGAINST Democrats. They watch nothing but Fox Propaganda and it makes them feel good to see Democrats lose. And this has been going on for far longer than the last six to eight years. Even before Obama, but much worse after.
As far as ageism, and whether or not Biden has the faculties to run and serve again, I’d rather not see him run, if only because I don’t think he’ll ever stop trying to play nice with Republicans. Capital Hill isn’t what it was in his day, and I don’t think he quite gets that. And that doesn’t have much to do with age, I don’t believe.
after giving this "biden's too old" idea some serious thought since you pointed it out in last week's poll, i've decided my perfect democrat ticket is katie porter for president and pete buttigieg for vice president. on one hand, i doubt this ticket will pass in front of voters, but i still like to think about it!
Being the same guy I've >always< been, I'm continually perplexed by the old coot I keep seein' a'starin' back at me in the damn mirror! Like the man on the stair who wasn't there, I too wish he'd go the hell away - until I realize it's the man who was >always< there! I wouldn't know what to do without him! I'm also continually perplexed by all the whippersnappers a'millin' about out there, particularly when I realize they're approaching middle age! Of course, I became aware early on that my generation is a total cluster-fuck, and have been watching events unfold over my 72 year sojourn in this old world like an inevitable, tediously slow-motion train wreck. (So much for "the rain gettin' colder.") Although I'm seldom surprised by >anything< that comes to pass, I still look forward to getting up in the morning just to see what hair-brained horseshit is comin' down the pike at us next. For example, I made a comment a day or two ago about how >no< "big brother" will >impose< a surveillance state on us, because we'll willingly set that infrastructure in place >at our own expense.< I just saw an article on the morning broadcast news regarding concerns being expressed over where the data gathered by the "Ring" doorbells is goin' and who has access to it. Ring is assuring us all it's confidential, and the police have no access to it - unless they have a warrant! LOL!
(If you're among those who like to bleed about your privacy being invaded by "the government," look first to the private sector, who you have the >completely< ill-advised notion is more trustworthy. It's >not< "big brother" a'watchin' you! Many times, the cops bust guys based on what they've found the busted has been braggin' 'bout to their buddies at the beer-joint! Generalize the damn concept - fer chrissake! BTW: If you're one of the law & order, blue lives matter types, who doesn't like "the government," you're aware - aren't you - that the cops >are< "the government ‽")
That's why I've never been overly concerned with my lot in life, and consider myself lucky as hell to be as well off as I am. Hell! I've even managed to avoid spending it in the penitentiary - the common career expectation of the social stratum I was born to, where a good job was >always< hard to come by. See the TV series "Justified!" (Generalize that too! Sheesh!) Still, I was always aware there were folks who were far worse-off than me. Oh vanity of vanities, all is vanity!
I'm shocked that your alleged height is about 5 feet tall. You always seem like a giant in my eyes.
Thank you for the article. I am 95, seen a lot of bad stuff, (Joe McCarthy, JFK,, RFK, MLK, etc.) and yet here we are. Has anyone asked Biden if he wants to run again? Who would want another 4 years, after living through these past two years? I was happy to read several comments about concentrating on 2022, making sure we are not held hostage to Mitch McConnell and his band of not so merry men, or Manchin and Sinema. I do resent the question "should Biden and Trump run again". It is an insult to have both names in the same sentence.
That was the best description of old age I have ever read.
Love your sense of humor, Robert R. BTW I’m right behind you:)
Loved this! Am sharing with all my friends. I am 79 and have every one of the “symptoms” of an aging brain but I, like you Robert have not lost my sense of humor. Thank God, as I need it more than ever now.
Sadly, even if Biden is still sharp as a tack and is doing everything right, he does not inspire confidence and does not appear to be the strong leader Americans feel they need and want. For the sake of the country, he should not run, unless there is no better man who will take up the gauntlet.
By the way, Robert, I’d love you no matter how tall you are.
No he's not too old because the context he's in led him to run for POTUS, and he's won, and has been pushing a splendid agenda (except for aspects of his foreign policy, especially alas with regard to Israel's continued destruction of the Palestinian people and Saudi Arabia's monster gov't, also on Central and South America). These are big excepts but he's what we've got. Many of these polls making him so unpopular are taken by conservative news media -- corporations loath Biden for his FDR agenda (which they've stymied). Yes I'm 75 and yesterday came home exhausted from having goe to two affairs, and when I was younger would not have felt this at all. But I'm not in Biden's position in a increasingly rotting system, now increasingly undermined shamelessly by GOP people. If you don't want Biden as POTUS next time because he has not passed the FDR stuff, or because he won't do certain kinds of things (expand the Supreme court), then say so. Polls from democratic pollsters show Biden a thorough favorite.
So whom do we have in mind as a Democratic candidate? Also, speaking as your gerontological equal, I do wish we would avoid the use of vulgar language in public spaces. As you point out, because aging wolves suffer the pack turning against them, it’s increasingly necessary to maintain our dignity. President Biden is creating a great historical record. He is restoring our standing around the world. Honor is.