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NO COUNTRY FOR AN OLD PRESIDENT. There was some discussion on Twitter recently about whether President Joe Biden nodded off during an Oval Office meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. After the talk spread, some journalists, like CNN factchecker Daniel Dale, pushed back. “This ‘Biden asleep’ stuff is nonsense,” Dale tweeted on Saturday.
But here’s the thing. Watch Biden’s public appearance with Bennett on this C-Span video. The president appeared exhausted, just as he appeared exhausted a day earlier when he delivered remarks on the deaths of 13 American military men and women killed by a suicide bomber during his administration’s badly bungled withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
It’s not surprising. At the moment, Biden is confronting three crises — the wreck he has made of Afghanistan, the wave of Delta variant Covid infections, and the hurricane slamming Louisiana — that would tax any president. But this particular president will turn 79 years old in a few months — the oldest chief executive in American history. On his good days, he appears significantly less vigorous than he did earlier in his career, and being President of the United States appears to sap every bit of energy he has left.
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Remember that in late 2019, when Biden was running against an even older Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination, former President Jimmy Carter, at the time 95 years old, said, “I hope there’s an age limit. If I were just 80 years old, if I was 15 years younger, I don’t believe I could undertake the duties I experienced when I was president.”
As the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated, the British press featured much discussion of Biden’s appearance. “Dazed and visibly exhausted, Biden is hoisted by his own petard,” said one columnist in The Telegraph. “Visibly exhausted after just seven months in office,” said one in The Sun. There were reports that some British officials privately referred to Biden as “gaga” and “doolally,” and that Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself had called Biden “Sleepy Joe,” the nickname given Biden by then-President Donald Trump during the 2020 campaign.
There hasn’t been much similar discussion in the American press, although The Telegraph quoted one anonymous U.S. source saying, “The president is not ‘gaga.'” But certainly, just as in Britain, there are private discussions about whether Biden is up to the job.
But in a larger sense, the Afghan debacle raises the question of how Biden will handle future crises, ones that might stretch for months, not weeks. How will he do it when he is in his 80s? Recent days might be a preview of things to come.
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Original Author: Byron York
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