Consider this a victory for common sense. NY Times columnist Michelle Goldberg says something today that many on the right have been saying for years: Joe Biden is too old to run for president again.

Of course she doesn’t come right out and say it. She has to lay the ground work by telling us what a great president he’s been so far. Record job creation, low unemployment, the Inflation Reduction Act and he even shot down the Chinese spy balloon! Inflation gets a mention but not for the over-spending that helped create the conditions or the months of denial that it was transitory. Only for the recent decline which is thanks to the independent action of the Fed and has nothing whatsoever to do with Joe Biden.

Eventually Goldberg does get around to her point.

It’s been widely reported that Biden plans to use the State of the Union to set up his case for re-election. There’s a rift in the Democratic Party about whether this is wise for an 80-year-old to do. Democratic officials are largely on board, at least publicly, but the majority of Democratic voters are not. “Democrats say he’s done a good job but he’s too old,” said Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump Republican strategist who conducts regular voter focus groups. “He’ll be closer to 90 than 80 by the end of his second term.” Perhaps reflecting this dynamic, a Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that while 78 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents approved of the job Biden has done as president, 58 percent of them wanted a different candidate next year…

Primaries are expensive, exhausting, bruising affairs. If only Biden were just a few years younger, it would not be worth the Democratic Party enduring one.

But it’s hard to ignore the toll of Biden’s years, no matter how hard elected Democrats try. In some ways, the more sympathetic you are to Biden, the harder it can be to watch him stumble over his words, a tendency that can’t be entirely explained by his stutter. Longwell said Democrats in her focus group talked about holding their breath every time he speaks. And while Biden was able to campaign virtually in 2020, in 2024 we will almost certainly be back to a grueling real-world campaign schedule, which he would have to power through while running the country. It’s a herculean task for a 60-year-old and a near impossible one for an octogenarian.

A few years from now there will be high profile books being published about the inner workings of the Biden White House and I’m pretty confident some of those will lift the veil on just how mentally not with it he seemed at times. We’re probably going to look back on his administration in light of some scary stories about the president not knowing where he was or what he was doing at critical moments. We’ve already seen the evidence of that. No doubt it’s much worse than we know but for the constant efforts of staff (and his wife) to keep it from view.

But Goldberg goes further by spelling out the other big problem with Biden 2024. Chances are he’ll be facing a much younger Republican candidate this time around.

If Biden faces Trump, who will be 78 next year, that might not matter. It is worrying that in the Washington Post/ABC poll, Trump was slightly ahead in a hypothetical rematch, but Trump’s negatives tend to go up the more he’s in the public eye, and a presidential campaign would give him plenty of chances to remind Americans of his unique malignancy. But with many polls showing Trump’s popularity slipping and with the deep-pocketed Koch network lining up against him, chances are good that Biden’s competitor will be someone much younger, like Ron DeSantis, who will be 46 in 2024. Barring some radical shift in the national mood, the candidates will be vying for leadership of a deeply dissatisfied country desperate for change. For Democrats, the visual contrast alone could be devastating.

Of course there’s a reason more Democrats aren’t clamoring for Biden to resign. Who would take his place? Not Kamala Harris. We’ve seen plenty of stories lately about the fact that no one really thinks she’s up to the job. Goldberg acknowledges this by merely saying she “polls poorly,” but she also claims Democrats have a “deep bench” including Gretchen Whitmer and Raphael Warnock. Personally, I don’t think Gretchen Whitmer has much chance but Raphael Warnock would, in my opinion, be a stronger candidate than Biden. He hasn’t accomplished anything of note in his short time in the Senate but then neither had Barack Obama when he won the White House.

I don’t see any signs that Biden or those closest to him are considering stepping back. One thing that has always been true of Joe Biden is that he does not lack self-confidence. So I think he’s going to run and Democrats will get on board and nominate him again barring some really clear sign that he’s losing his grip. But I wouldn’t rule out that kind of negative defining moment happening over the next two years. Biden’s credibility has been teetering on a knife’s edge since the withdrawal from Afghanistan. It would only take one really bad rhetorical car wreck to make a majority of the country decide it’s time to move on. That could happen at any time, maybe even at tonight’s State of the Union. (We’ll be having a live blog of the speech tonight so watch for that.)

As Goldberg said, Biden is probably going to use this speech to set himself up to announce his candidacy. If he does well tonight all of the talk about him stepping down will probably be moot, even though one speech two years out doesn’t really prove he’ll still be up for the job two years from now.

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