The age-old age issue

By Debra J. Saunders

Syndicated columnist

Having turned 81 on Monday, President Joe Biden is the oldest U.S. president ever. When he was elected in 2016, former President Donald Trump, now 77, was the oldest person elected to a first term in the White House.

Old age in itself is hardly a disqualifier, as it can signal wisdom and experience. (For the record, I'm on Medicare.)

BUT: you're closer to debilitating, even life-threatening, health issues, while the world seems more dangerous by the day.

As a Washington Post story noted Tuesday, "Biden ... has lost a step and is showing visible signs of aging."

An August AP-NORC poll found that 77% of adults - and 69% of Democrats - saw Biden as too old to be effective for four more years.

Trump actually used Biden's 81st birthday against him. On Monday, Trump released a three-paragraph letter from his own personal physician, Bruce Aronwald, who declared the former president's "overall health is excellent" and his "cognitive exams were exceptional."

Problem: The letter contained more hyperbole than details.

The Biden White House has shared a lot more information. In February, the White House released a health summary by Physician to the President Kevin C. O'Connor who described the president as "a healthy, vigorous, 80-year-old male who is fit to successfully execute duties of the presidency."

A five-page letter disclosed Biden's weight (178 pounds), body mass index (24.1), blood pressure (128/76) and more, as well as the health challenges he faces - a-fib, neuropathy of the feet, high cholesterol, acid reflux, allergies.

One missing item: the elephant in the room, there was no mention of any cognitive assessment.

The Biden White House learned from Team Trump's mistakes.

In January 2018, then Press Secretary Sarah Sanders introduced the then-president's physician Ronny Jackson in the briefing room, where he gushed about Trump's stamina and offered that if Trump were a healthier eater, he could live to age 200.

The press responded with a barrage of skeptical questions. Did Trump wear dentures? Had Jackson seen signs of dementia? Did Jackson give Trump a psychiatric evaluation?

So, yes, I can see why the Biden White House doesn't want the president's health to be the focus of the daily briefing.

But Americans see what they see.

© Creators, 2023

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