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Joe Biden, West Point, 2024
President Joe Biden arrives to deliver the commencement address at the US Military Academy class of 2024 in West Point, NY. Photo credit:

It is unfair that Joe Biden is being asked to step aside just for being too old while a narcissistic felon can stay in the race. But life isn’t fair, and Democrats better get through the seven stages of grief quickly or risk disaster in November.

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— OPINION —

For years, anybody not ensnared in the MAGA cult has been baffled by the way Republicans have embraced Donald Trump, and how their support even increased no matter how obvious it became that he shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office.

The failed coup, the incessant lies, the indictments, the malignant narcissism… all of these things did nothing to diminish the former president’s popularity with the GOP base.

And that is something that has left his political adversaries mystified: How can so many people ignore such apparent flaws?

Well, anybody who still thinks that Joe Biden is the best Democrat to take on Trump this fall may want to take a quick look in a mirror… because they are doing the same thing.

Sure, the circumstances are different.

Biden’s shortcomings are not as toxic as Trump’s. He is not morally (or otherwise) corrupt, he doesn’t suffer from personality disorders, and he certainly wouldn’t attempt to overturn the election if he were to lose.

On Thursday night, however, it became quite clear that the president’s age and constitution are a serious liability and that he should bow out.

That certainly feels unfair.

Biden isn’t a convicted felon. He is a career politician — not a career criminal. He is a family man and doesn’t cheat on his wife with porn stars.

But there is a reason why he is being asked to step aside, while nobody is calling for Trump to drop out: Biden is a good man who might just do what’s best for the country (and what would certainly be best for his family), while Trump will only ever do what’s best for Trump.

Democrats and their supporters don’t want this to be true, but Biden is simply too old to be president for another four years. In fact, he is too old to be president now.

Asking the Republican to get out of this race would be just as effective as asking the Atlantic Ocean to no longer be wet.

But life isn’t fair, and Biden, like every other human being who has ever lived, is on the decline — and nobody knows exactly how sharp that decline is now or how advanced it will be in November, or by 2028.

Democrats and their supporters don’t want this to be true, but Biden is simply too old to be president for another four years. In fact, he is too old to be president now.

He has done some good things while in office, beginning with defeating Trump and pulling the country out of multiple crises. However, it stands to reason that history will ultimately judge him by what he does now.

If he puts personal ambition ahead of giving Democrats the best chance to vanquish Trump for good, then that will be his legacy.

If he makes way for somebody better suited, i.e., someone younger who is also not saddled with the baggage of high inflation and a perceived border security crisis, he will forever be an example of putting country first.

As things stand now, it is very clear that it would be too great a risk to let him take on the former president a second time.

His age-related decline is just too much of a liability.

It’s not even just about how his health will hold up in the next debate or on the campaign trail, but rather whether he can withstand the rigors of the presidency.

People don’t seem to realize how demanding and stressful that job is.

By the way, that may be one of the reasons why Americans think that Trump’s advanced age is less of an issue. They may instinctively realize that he is only doing the fun and glamorous parts. Trump wants to feel and be powerful — while not actually doing the work. That is why, the first time around, his aides essentially had to draw him pictures with crayons so that he would at least try to grasp basic policy issues.

However, if you want to do the job right —and Biden clearly does — then you have to be on top of your game.

Biden no longer is, and his decision to run again as an unpopular incumbent whose frailty is a major campaign theme for the opposition is opening the door for an equally unpopular Trump.

The president, his advisers, and his family should never have allowed things to get this far.

But they did, and, as the country saw on Thursday night, that now leaves Democrats with a major mess on their hands.

Sure, Biden looked more energetic during a campaign stop in North Carolina on Friday, but that really doesn’t matter because the damage is done.

The debate was the first time many Americans tuned in to the race, and, if they were worried about Biden’s frailty, all of their worst fears were confirmed.

There may also be some good moments ahead, but there will also be a lot more like Thursday. And these will be replayed endlessly in campaign commercials.

The world was watching, too.

Several EU politicians from different countries and from across the spectrum, who are all concerned about a second Trump presidency, have suggested that the Democrats should consider replacing Biden.

Again, this is sad, and he deserves better for his service to the nation.

But, if Democrats want to have their best chance of beating Trump, they better get through the seven stages of grief quickly.

On Thursday night came the shock of watching Biden fumble the debate.

On Friday, the denial began. Maybe it wasn’t so bad. And if Biden keeps on going as he did in North Carolina, voters might just forget the debate. It’s all fine.

“Bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know. But this election is still a choice between someone who has fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who only cares about himself,” said former President Barack Obama. 

“Between someone who tells the truth; who knows right from wrong and will give it to the American people straight — and someone who lies through his teeth for his own benefit. Last night didn’t change that, and it’s why so much is at stake in November.”

All of those things are true… apart from the fact that Thursday night actually changed everything.

Yes, it is a stark contrast between a decent human being and an awful one. Biden did fight for the little guy, and Trump is one of the greatest liars in history.

And, finally, a lot is at stake in November, but that’s precisely why the concerns over Biden’s health make him too much of a risk.

Obama is not alone in proudly proclaiming that he is sticking with the incumbent based on the premise that the choice is between someone who is simply old and someone who is a wannabe dictator.

That would be reasonable… if this were a binary choice. If those are the only options on Election Day, then it is obvious what any decent human being has to do

However, that is not the case. For a few more weeks, until the Democratic convention, there are better options on the table than to allow Biden to shuffle into this contest.

Will the Democrats exercise one of them? That depends on whether they remain stuck in the denial stage or quickly move on to the next ones: anger, bargaining, and depression.

If they do, then they will eventually also get to the “testing” phase of grief, which is when they can think about who should replace Biden at the top of the ticket… then, finally, they will reach acceptance.

But they have to do it fast, because time is running out.

Author

  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a senior editor for Politics and director of the Mentor Apprentice Program at WhoWhatWhy. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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