The awkwardly named Washington Week with The Atlantic, a weekly political roundtable of journalists which appears on tax-supported PBS, defended President Biden on its most recent episode last Friday from scurrilous Republican questions about his age and fitness. For the country, it’s certainly a [ahem] ripe question, as Joe Biden would be 86 at the end of a hypothetical second and final term as president in January 2029, which would make him by far the oldest president in American history.
But, for PBS and The Atlantic, it’s frivolous to take those concerns seriously to the point that host and Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg went so far to call Biden “quite acute” mentally
While the panel did address the important matter of the gerontocracy currently running the country, several of the panelists seemed to think Republican mockery of Biden for his age and infirmity had no basis in fact. Politico‘s Kyle Cheney set the table, bemoaning such questions about Biden’s age could be “driven” by “Republicans on the other side” who “have spent four years almost kind of weaponizing Biden’s age against him.”
Asma Khalid of taxpayer-funded NPR rushed to his defense as well, insisting “you don’t see” those issues “in the poll numbers” (which is absurd) and Goldberg, having seen no reason to disagree, asked, “why is that?”
Perhaps because Trump is an active and robust campaigner and hasn’t stumbled in public several times, or shaken hands with the air? And that stamina-challenged Biden is now taking the “short stairs” up Air Force One?
No. Instead, Cheney blamed the “aura” created by Republicans.
I mean, that’s a great question in part because I don’t think you’ve had this years of concerted effort. I mean, Donald Trump, they’re running ads showing Biden tripping every five seconds. And I think that creates a sort of aura that sticks, has sort of stuck with Joe Biden. Donald Trump has always been very good at branding his opponents in ways that they can’t shake, and this seems to be one of those examples, just to talk about Biden’s age and his health, and every time he coughs we’re going to put that in an ad. And they don’t do — there’s no counterpart to that aimed at Donald Trump, who has a different demeanor than Biden, but certainly has things you could point out about his own age.
Other panelists went even further, actively defending Biden, including Goldberg’s ludicrous valentine:
THE ATLANTIC‘s MARK LEIBOVICH: Can I just actually just point out, though, that, I mean, it’s not just making an issue of Biden’s age, it’s lying, it’s saying he’s senile, saying he’s demented, saying he’s out of it. I mean, I think it’s important to sort of state for a fact that a lot of these are just —
GOLDBERG: Right. Mentally, he’s quite acute.
LEIBOVICH: It seems like it.
Leibovich is author of the new book Thank You for Your Servitude, whose theme is the moral rot of Trump’s enablers. Perhaps not an unbiased source regarding the fitness of Trump’s possible presidential opponent in November 2024.
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