OK, I say this with trepidation because age is the third rail of polite discourse: Joe Biden as a 2020 presidential nomination candidate at this point in early 2019 looks, well, ancient.
Almost scarily so.
He’ll be 77 this coming November.
He doesn’t look his age. He looks closer to 107, give or take a month.
As the presidential contest unfolds over the next 17 months, Mr. Biden will look progressively older and his score of Democratic rival will look ever younger by comparison. Adding 17 months to someone in her 40s or in his 50s doesn’t yield the same looks as you add a year and seven months to a 77-year-old.
It won’t be pretty for old Joe.
And, yes, I know what you’re thinking: Biden’s practically a kid compared to me.
But I’m not running for anything (except my life when my wife Millie says I’ve stepped on my tongue — again).
For Joe, here’s the comparison that will matter. At about this same point in 1979, Ronald Reagan (born Feb. 6, 1911) didn’t look anywhere nearly as ancient in his quest for 1980 presidential nomination as Joe Biden does now.
For one thing, Mr. Reagan was only 68. A year and five months before the 1980 presidential election, The Gipper was nine years younger than Mr. Biden is now.
“Now” is a year and five months before the 2020 presidential election.
For another thing, when Mr. Reagan completed his second term as president and preeminent nemesis of the Evil Empire, he was 77. Which is what Mr. Biden is now, almost a year before he enters the first 2020 Democratic primary.
If he does.
I remember Mr. Reagan’s 1979 appearance before the Chicago Tribune editorial board, to which I then belonged thanks to atypical but severe lapses in judgment by the newspaper’s officers and editors.
Listening to the legions of detractors back then, I thought the candidate must have three middle names: Ronald “Grade B Actor” Reagan.
But listening to him field our questions, I thought, Holy feces, this guy is sharp, witty, charming and not at all like the ancient mariner who stoppeth one of three.
Memory is not always reliable, of course.
So play the video, please.
Memory’s OK in this case. Ronnie charmed the pants off the American nation and beat incumbent Jimmy Carter in a landslide.
Wonder what this means for Mr. Biden, the ex-veep who never sought or got treatment for his foot-in-mouth disease.
He has said China (whose economy by one international measure is already larger than that of the U.S.) is no threat to the U.S.
During a campaign rally, Joe kept urging a state senator to stand up and take a bow.
The senator was a paraplegic.
At another rally, Bonkers Biden said the No. 1 issue is “a three-letter word: jobs.” He then proceeded to spell out the three letters; “J-O-B-S.”
In 2007, Joe the schmo said candidate Barack Obama was a “storybook … African American” candidate because he is “bright, and clean and nice looking.”
Can you imagine what would happen if Donald J. Trump had said that? No, you can’t. Not really. Any more than you can describe the end of civilization as we know it.
Mr. Biden, of course, went on to be vice president through all eight years of the Obama presidency.
I said a few paragraphs earlier that I wonder what the Reagan-Biden age-and-looks gap means for Joe. OK, truth to tell, I’m not wondering.
Mr. Biden will be out of the Democratic contest before year’s end.
His age and his astonishing ignorance of foreign and domestic policy — sometimes real, sometimes feigned because of a hidden agenda — will unite with his ancient-mariner looks.
The combo will turn the public-opinion polls into something best described as not his best friends.
That’s bad news for people who prefer the Trumpster over any other Republican and certainly any Democrat known to man or beast.
We’re talking about Americans and immigrants who love the self-praising exaggerator of a president, his eye-widening policy statements, the politically incorrect ways he utters his views and tweets his goals at us, right between our eyes, at all hours of the day and night.
Mr. Trump won the electoral college but lost the popular vote to that woman whose name has become synonymous with whiner. In a way, she beat herself in 2016.
Joe’s simply more readily beatable because he’s more foible-ridden and more death-warmed-over looking than his top nomination rivals. So, confoundingly, Mr. Biden’s age and ignorance are bad news for Trumpians.
Mr. Biden’s more than 20 Democratic nomination rivals have among them several with the star power that can win the attention, maybe even the affection of core Democrats.
Add to that core those forever-confused independent/swing voters.
And bang. Joe has the critical mass to make a Trump 2020 loss more than remotely possible.
Mr. Trump’s easiest Nov. 3, 2020, knockout will require Mr. Biden and his chin in the ring.
Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden and his chin will be watching ringside as the Trump-vs-Whoever match goes unto its last round two Novembers from now.
The pre-primary and primary radicalism of the other Democratic Oval Office dreamers will soften into the broad general-election appeal we can expect from the surviving Democrat.
The results will be too close for comfort for both parties and both candidates.
If this be error and upon me proved, well hey, this ain’t rocket science. It’s a seven-letter word: politics. P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S.
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