A little over a year before the American presidential election, David Ignatius, an editorial writer for the Washington Post, is throwing a wrench into the Democratic pond. In a text entitled “President Biden should not run again in 2024”, he pointed out the obvious on Tuesday September 12.
Joe Biden's age is now a major handicap which annihilates all the efforts of the White House to boast of its economic, social or diplomatic successes. The editorialist recalls that, according to an Associated Press poll published at the end of August, 77% of Americans – including 69% of Democrats – believe that this issue is a problem: if he is re-elected, the Democrat will enter the White House at the age of 82 and will leave at 86, not an exciting prospect.
What Ignatius does not say is that the polls follow one another and are similar: at the beginning of September, an opinion poll for CNN confirmed that 73% of voters say they are seriously concerned about the physical vitality and mental acuity of the US president, and that 76% doubt his ability to secure a second term.
The question agitates politicians: In April, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley would elegantly suggest on Fox News that Biden would probably not live to see the end of his second term and that voting for him was actually voting for Kamala Harris, who would succeed him, under the Constitution.
Public radio NPR looked at a development that might have gone unnoticed: the number of steps the president climbs when boarding or disembarking Air Force One. At the start of his mandate, he took the longest staircase, the one that leads to the top of the aircraft, where he could pose advantageously, overlooking and against the backdrop of the sky. But he now very frequently uses another staircase, shorter and more stable, which previously was only taken out in bad weather.
Bringing out new leaders
In his editorial, David Ignatius does not deny the merits of the 46th President of the United States. The first, and not the least, is to have been able to impose his candidacy in 2019 when it was not obvious to many Democrats, then, and above all, to have “beat President Donald Trump”. He recalls that, in his inauguration speech, Joe Biden already wrote his political testament: “When we are dead, our children and our children's children will say of us: “they gave the best of themselves, they did their duty, they healed a divided country.” »
The editorialist gives him discharge. But Ignatius is convinced that Biden, "who can't say 'no,'" "will run again if he deeply believes that Trump will be the Republican Party's nominee and has the best chance of defeating [him] and to save the country from the nightmare of a revanchist presidency.” David Ignatius does not spare Vice President Kamala Harris either: she is simply less popular than Biden, according to the poll aggregation site FiveThirtyEight. She failed to make her mark.
He nevertheless calls on the president to engage in a moment of introspection: "In about a month, (...) it will be too late for other Democrats (...) to launch themselves into the primaries and see if they have the qualities necessary to ascend to the presidency.” Even if he recognizes that at present no democratic candidate is needed to succeed Joe Biden, the journalist expresses the hope that the head of state has “confidence in the democratic system” to see a new leader emerge .
Former President Donald Trump – 77 years old – on the other hand, is not bothered by these questions about age: “Bernie [Sanders] is older than Biden. Whether you like him or not, he is at 100% of his intellectual capacity,” he told host Tucker Carlson in April. Before asserting: “There are many people in their 80s, and even in their 90s, who are as good and intelligent as ever. Biden is not one of them, but that has little to do with his age. In reality, life begins at 80! »
However, at this moment when America is wondering about the aging of its political staff – should we recall the moment of absence of Republican Mitch McConnell, 81 years old? –, Senator Mitt Romney, whose term ends in January 2025, announced that he would not run again in 2024. “I have [served my country] in one way or another for twenty-five years. another one. After another term, I will be over 80 years old. It is frankly time to make way for a new generation of leaders,” declared the unsuccessful 2012 presidential candidate against Barack Obama, now 76 years old. Before adding: “It is up to them to make the decisions that will shape the world in which they will live. » He denies Joe Biden and Donald Trump the ability to respond to the challenges of debt, climate change, authoritarianism at work in Russia and China.