Has Biden Lost It? He Never Had It

President Joe Biden attends the Jeddah Security and Development Summit in Jeddah on July 16.


Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

“You are old, Father William,” said the young man
“And your hair has become very white;

And yet you keep standing on your head –

Do you think your age is right?”

“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,

“I was afraid it might hurt the brain;

But now that I’m perfectly sure I don’t have any

Why, I keep doing it!”

Like so much of the world behind the mirrors of modern politics, the conversation the Democratic Party is having with President Biden was almost verbatim anticipated by Lewis Carroll more than 150 years ago.

A year and a half into his tenure, leading Democrats have suddenly discovered that the man they nominated at 77 two years ago is old. We are solemnly informed by supposedly reputable news organizations that this realization came as an unwelcome shock.

It is true that politics can be full of surprises. Adversity is almost always the result of unforeseen events. If you’re in a charitable mood, you might even say that the cascading woes the Democrats have inflicted on us over the last year or so were not so easily predicted.

The rise in inflation to a 40-year high was certainly not predicted by everyone, not even by many so-called pundits. Also, apparently not every observer could see that the withdrawal of the government from Afghanistan would lead to a catastrophe. Perhaps someone didn’t realize that opening the southern border to a greater or lesser extent would lead to a massive influx of illegal immigrants. And some hopeful souls must have expected Vice President Kamala Harris to be more of an articulate, thoughtful, and effective addition to the administration than that babbledeer in headlights, generating platitudes it turned out to be a nonsense machine.

But one thing that shouldn’t come as a surprise is the passage of time. You can predict with stone-cold 100 percent certainty that a 77-year-old man will live to be 81 if he lives four years. All of this propaganda that was sold to us two years ago about how perceptive Mr. Biden was and how he was mentally and physically strong enough for two full terms cannot be deemed no longer effective simply because we have recognized that he two years below mortals is chain.

Democrats aren’t suddenly troubled by the discovery of unexpected evidence that the president is too old for the job. They are alarmed at discovering entirely predictable evidence that he is unfit for the job. It’s not his old age that worries the Democrats, but his increasing unpopularity. You can guarantee that if Mr. Biden had an approval rating closer to his age (79) than his tenure (18), we would hear endless stories about his physical fitness and mental acuity.

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The unfortunate reality — for both the rest of us and Democrats — is that at almost 80, Mr. Biden is as fit to be president as he ever was. Like the old man of Carroll’s imagination, Mr. Biden has not lost his skills. He never had her.

His long political career before the presidency was characterized by inconspicuousness. It’s a pretty good indicator of the quality of your political judgment when you later dismissed most of the memorable things you did in your career — the pro-life votes in the 1970s and later, the Clarence Thomas showdown and Anita Hill 1991, the 1994 crime bill, the 1996 welfare reform, support for the Iraq war in 2002.

His previous failed presidential campaigns were fitting staging posts on this long march to mediocrity. It wasn’t until 1988, in his teenage middle age, then in 2008, when he was old enough for Medicare, that his party firmly rejected him.

But fate gave him one last chance at success, a priceless opportunity to do everything right. In 2020, events improbably conspired to create what is likely the only circumstance in which Mr. Biden could prevail.

After four years of politics teetering on the brink of nervous breakdown, the country was plunged into a health and economic crisis of near-unprecedented severity. Then far-left activists seized the opportunity to bring chaos and disorder to American cities, and the Democratic Party hailed the moment, swinging violently to the left.

Mr. Biden was suddenly, for the first time in his career, the answer to the most important political question of the moment. All he had to do was renounce his party’s extremism and give a hyperventilating nation a chance to breathe normally.

But he couldn’t. He’d spent a lifetime pursuing where his party was going and that wasn’t going to change. Now there he is, like that old man in the poem, on his head, the opposite of what he promised, of everything the country needs.

Wonderland: Responsibility for this administration’s public failures rests with the Democratic Party, not just Joe Biden. Images: Bloomberg News/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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