Happy 80th birthday, Mr. President. Now please don’t run

Biden Near Some Balloons - 111922
President Joe Biden speaks during an Independence Day celebration on the South Lawn of the White House, July 4, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Happy 80th birthday, Mr. President. Now please don’t run

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It is President Joe Biden’s 80th birthday. The best gift he could give the nation, and himself, is an announcement that he will not run for president in 2024. He has worked in the federal government for 50 years now, many of them ably. But his age is showing, his gaffes have gone from charming to dangerous, and the Democratic Party can do better.

Biden is already the oldest-serving president ever. He is now two years older than Ronald Reagan was on the last day of his second term in office. If he were to run for president again and win, Biden would be 82 if he gets sworn into office, and he would be closer to 90 than to 80 by the time his term expired.

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“Age will be an issue if I act old, and it won’t if I don’t,” Reagan said when he was running for reelection in 1984. He was 73 at the time, almost a full decade younger than Biden will be in 2024. And Biden has been acting very old.

There is the time he fell not once, not twice, but three times trying to climb up the boarding stairs into Air Force One. There is the time he fell off his bike in front of reporters in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. And there are the countless times he has seemed lost walking the wrong way offstage after speeches.

These incidents wouldn’t be so troubling if there weren’t so many examples of clear mental missteps as well.

There was the time he couldn’t remember the name of his own secretary of defense, just weeks after moving into the office. “And I want to thank the sec … the, the, ah former general,” Biden said. “I keep calling him general but my, my — the guy who runs that outfit over there,” the president noted as he lamely tried to remember Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s name.

There was the time he made up getting arrested at a civil rights protest, a mistake White House aides were forced to correct afterward. There was the time he made up going to the Tree of Life synagogue after a shooting, another mistake White House aides were forced to correct afterward.

And there was the time he repeatedly called for Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) to join him at the podium for a nutrition event — eight weeks after she had tragically died in a car crash. He should have been aware, given that a tribute to her life and work had been part of the event.

Finally, there was Biden’s limited attempt at campaigning, when he said a week before the midterm elections that “inflation is a worldwide problem right now because of a war in Iraq and the impact on oil and what Russia’s doing. I mean, excuse me, the war in Ukraine. I’m thinking of Iraq because that’s where my son died. Because he died.” But Biden’s late son did not die in Iraq — although he did serve there.

And these are only the non-policy mental fumbles. Biden has repeatedly said the United States would militarily defend Taiwan in the case of a Chinese invasion, a huge change in American policy if true. Each time, White House aides have had to walk his statements back. He similarly said of Russian President Vladimir Putin, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” This call for regime change was also quickly walked back by White House aides.

At his advanced age, Biden has become a danger to himself and others. He is clearly past the peak of his executive function and is often not all there. A decision at this point to run again for president can only be an act of selfishness. It would be a total failure to put country above personal ambition.

We are not the biggest fans of the policies the Democratic Party pursues, but we refuse to believe that Biden is the best person it can nominate in 2024. It is time for Biden to step aside and for somebody, anybody else, to lead the Democratic Party.

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