MAINTENANCE. Joe Biden’s state of health: “Trump has damaged the image of the United States much more,” says a political scientist

the essential
Lincoln Mitchell regularly broadcasts his corrosive and very insightful analyzes of American politics on CNN. He analyzes here the problems posed by Joe Biden’s state of form and its consequences for American democracy.

Is Joe Biden’s age and frequent absence a problem for America?

This is a difficult question to answer. Do we want a better and younger President? Yes, ideally. But on the other hand, for speaking with members of the administration regularly, Joe Biden is in great shape, both mentally and physically, as he approaches his 80th birthday (November).

What do we know about his health?

The President undergoes an annual check-up, the conclusions of which are published by the White House. The latter shows that he is in great shape for someone his age. The impression comes mainly from the way of speaking about him, a bit hesitant, but we must know that it has always been like this, since childhood. As a young man he had to overcome a stutter. Biden was never a great speaker. I’ve been listening to him talk about him for several decades: he says interesting things but nothing memorable, nothing that sticks.

How do these frequent moments of absence affect daily work?

It has no consequences. Biden is still a hard worker. And he doesn’t find out the function. He knows how to delegate very well and has surrounded himself with a very professional team. I recently had lunch with a country’s ambassador to the United Nations: he told me how easy and pleasant it is to work with the Biden administration because everyone is extremely competent.

What consequences does it have on the image of the United States, especially at the international level?

Obviously, the Trump presidency has damaged the image of the United States in the world far more than Joe Biden’s moments of absence. I think it’s more problematic for Biden to look forward to re-election than him. Because even though he’ll be 82 at the end of his term, I’m confident Biden will be back racing. And he also has a real chance of winning.

Biden often appears behind the wheel of sports cars or in a bomber jacket. Are you trying to compensate for this image?

Biden has always been like this. It is the voice of the wise man, of the one who, in front of a young man who would talk a little too much, or a little too loud, in a bar, would wrap his arm around his shoulder and tell him: “someone has to explain to you how things actually happen “. That’s it, Biden. Even young, he was already seen as someone who looked older. It is not, and never will be, Obama who was overly cool. But he has this wisdom that young people like. For the younger voters it is the nice grandfather, the one with whom we have fun spending time on weekends.

Is this the first time that the age of the president is a problem?

No. Reagan was already considered too old to run (elected at 70). When he was re-elected in 1984, he raged the debate over his age. He then had this famous phrase during the televised debate against his democratic opponent Mondale, to reverse the situation to his advantage: “I will not exploit my opponent’s youth and inexperience”. Towards the end of his presidency, he showed many signs of fatigue and confusion which later proved to be the first warning signs of Alzheimer’s. But Reagan, like Biden today, understood very well that his role was to lead the executive branch of the government, not to go all alone.

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