Going out of the way to miss the point

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I don’t think there’s any question that Joe Biden’s age, as an “issue” manufactured by the Republican Party and Fox News, has become the 2024 equivalent of 2016’s, “But, her emails.” I am neither shocked nor dismayed by it. It is, in fact, precisely the sort of thing I would expect from Republicans these days. It’s shabby, irrelevant and chickenshit, right on cue. It’s also barefaced hypocrisy in view of the fact that their candidate will soon be 78 — and he really is showing alarming symptoms of mental decrepitude.

Neither does it shock me that the mainstream media have taken it up. Some of them talk with a straight face as if Biden’s age is somehow disqualifying, as if it’s breaking news that Biden is 81 years old. They talk as if Biden is somehow not irreplaceable.

At a recent gaggle near the landing pad of Marine One, a reporter shouted to Biden, “Should Gavin be standing by?” What he meant by this impertinence is, should California governor Gavin Newsom be “standing by” and ready to take over the 2024 presidential candidacy should Biden need to step down. You know, because of Biden’s “age.”

MSNBC correspondent Lawrence O’Donnell is shocked by all this. As I say, I am not. O’Donnell says that the reporter asking that question needs to be educated on the facts of the election, he needs to be told that Newsom cannot take over because it’s too late. That bus, O’Donnell in effect said, has already left the station.

I think the reporter knew that already. I think what’s really going on is that almost everybody in both the rightwing and mainstream media is playing a game, O’Donnell included. That game is a brazen willingness to play along with the Age Question. They know, with eyes wide open, that this whole age imbroglio is nothing more than a pretext for drama. It’s feeding the large, fat, ugly animal of sensationalism.

They are, in effect, doing again what they so successfully (and disastrously) did in 2016 when they went on and on and bloody on about Hillary’s emails. Whether they are for it or against it, that story sells news, and since virtually every news outlet in the nation these days is composed of whores for money, they go along with it.

As they did with Hillary’s emails in 2016, they keep bringing it up. Some pretend to be horrified that it’s being exploited by Republicans for propaganda, some are part of that propaganda, but they’re all part of the same wrestling match. They all know it’s fake, but they also know it makes for briskly selling copy. The only choice they need to make is whether or not they’re going to play the villain or the hero.

Here’s the real message: Biden is 81. Next November he’ll be 82. That’s a fact of nature and there isn’t a damned thing anyone can do about it. Believe me, if Biden could do something about it he’d do so. But he can’t. So get over it.

Whenever the age thing comes up we need to do what the President does. Dismiss it and move on to important topics. It is not relevant. Biden will be the candidate in 2024. Period. Every time we participate on either side in the fake outrage over Biden’s age we feed the cheap, vulgar narrative. What we need to do is make sure that everyone understands what it really is, a nothingburger that will vanish as soon as the election is over.

We need to reinforce the obvious facts. Biden is doing a magnificent job. He’s a cool and competent practitioner of the presidency.

Of course Biden’s health could fail and he could lose his competence. But that’s true whether he’s 81 or 41. That’s why we have the 25th Amendment. Until then let’s all stop worrying and let him get on with the wonderful job he’s doing already. It’s why we put him there in the first place. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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