On both NBC and ABC’s Sunday political affairs shows, there was significant time devoted to the matter of President Biden’s age and whether he is mentally able to conduct the affairs of the presidency in a theoretical second term.
Watch as NBC’s Kristen Welker broaches the subject with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz on Meet The Press:
KRISTEN WELKER: Let’s talk about some of the challenges that President Biden faces. One of them is his age. You’ve been an outspoken defender on this issue. This week, the First Lady went so far to say it’s an asset. But voters aren’t buying that. What does the campaign need to do to address this issue?
GOV. TIM WALZ (D-MN): Well, first there is something to be said about age and wisdom and I think results matter. Look, I served in Congress for years and watched Infrastructure Week come and go. I watched Joe Biden deliver on a historic infrastructure act that’s building roads and bridges across Minnesota, Iowa, and the rest of the country. And I think it’s- as you start to see here where the choice becomes the binary choice between Donald Trump and disdain for the rule of law, and Joe Biden competency and getting things done. That overweighs that.
WELKER: Hm. But, I guess the question is, is the campaign taking this issue seriously enough? Do they need to do more?
WALZ: Oh, I think they are. They’ve got us out here talking about it and I’ve spent a lot of time with the president, and he’s great. We’re talking and chatting and all this and I think, you know, we all get a little older- that’s what happens, but you also gain that insight. And I think when it comes to these issues, working across the aisle to get things done, you see the president just doing this with dignity, doing it with class and getting up every day, doing the work. So I think he’s just doing what he does and it’s incumbent upon all of us- look. My mom is 88, still living on the farm, drives herself, um… folks are able to do this. So I think this little bit of ageism that goes to this- if it’s not that, it would be something else. They attack all of us on something, this is part of it.
Ageism, you see. Walz had plenty of time to talk about Biden’s age. Welker didn’t interview him on this or ask real follow-up questions so much as she teed Walz up to deliver the talking points, with a focus on the infrastructure bill. And note where Welker’s concerns lie- not with the voters who are legitimately concerned about the declining abilities of President Chocolate Chocolate Chip- but whether the campaign is doing enough to address these concerns.
We find similar themes on ABC’s This Week, hosted by Jon Kark. Watch the similarities in the defense against the charge that Biden is too old, as expressed by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker:
JON KARL: I mean, obviously, aside from the issues and where people think the economy is, you have the question of the president’s age. I mean, it’s just there in poll after poll, not just ours. Our poll, in fact, said 28% — just 28% think that President Biden has the mental sharpness to effectively serve for another term. So how does he address those concerns, those very real concerns that voters have?
GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): Maybe we ought to start by just acknowledging that Joe Biden has years of experience. That when you talk about someone’s age, you’re also talking about the wisdom that they’ve gained over many years, and how they’ve demonstrated their empathy that they’ve learned from so many experiences. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are roughly the same age. Do you think Donald Trump has learned empathy in his life? He has not. Joe Biden has demonstrated it at every turn. Think about what he’s accomplished across the aisle because of his years of experience, not in a partisan fashion, but a bipartisan fashion. Getting a serious bill passed to improve our infrastructure across the nation to make sure to create jobs and bring manufacturing back to the United States. That’s what he’s done, and again, working with Republicans. The majorities that he’s gotten have had Republicans and Democrats voting together. That’s who Joe Biden is, and that’s what age and experience brings.
Alas, Karl was satisfied enough by this response that he would proffer no follow-up question. Notice the similarities with Walz’ responses. Wisdom. Infrastructure bill. Experience. Pritzker went above and beyond, offering that classic Biden empathy.
In any case, the fact that the age question was brought simultaneously shows a concern not quite assuaged by the surrogates’ responses. It also exposes who the media believe to be the truest, purest victim of this line of questioning subsequent to the legitimate concerns of voters as expressed in poll after poll: the electoral prospects of Joe Biden.