Yes, yes, of course, Joe Biden is running for re-election. He is the sitting president, has passed historic legislation, and he’s the one guy who has proven that he can vanquish Donald Trump, whose Republican primary lead appears increasingly insurmountable despite his third indictment. The White House has largely argued that any doubts about Biden’s political future are ageist, puerile, and absurd. Who cares if he takes the short steps up Air Force One, or needs a note card to remind him to take his seat, they contend. He’s a spry 80-year-old who wears aviators, rides a Peloton, and doesn’t mind being photographed shirtless on a Delaware beach. Inflation is falling. Unemployment is near historic lows.
And it’s an argument that has been persuasive in Official Washington, assisted by the juxtaposition of Trump’s own age (77), and the influence of the very disciplined power brokers who run Biden’s inner circle. The Gang of 500 rejoices over the Biden administration’s policy successes—IRA, CHIPS, etcetera—anointing him the most effective president since L.B.J., and blaming staffers when he trips on stage.
The argument has reigned despite some uncomfortable moments, like that sandbag mishap and the enduring fallout around the Hunter Biden grift, or even softening poll numbers with key constituencies. Just a few weeks ago, there were feverish whispers around D.C. that Michael Scherer, one of The Washington Post’s star reporters, was at work on a critical piece about Biden’s mental acuity and health. Instead, the hotly-anticipated article came out differently, published under the headline: Why Experts Aren’t All That Concerned About Biden’s and Trump’s Ages.