I wanted to make a couple of follow-up points to Paul’s excellent post below because bad faith arguments like Douthat’s are going to become increasingly common, especially if some combination of Manchin and Romney decide to run a No Labels ratfucking campaign. Let’s stipulate that, in an ideal world, it would be better to have a presidential nominee who was younger than 75. It should also be clear that given the actual alternatives in the 2024 election Biden’s age should be absolutely, 100% immaterial:
- Manchin and Romney being the dream candidates for the “Biden’s age is entirely disqualifying” crowd is useful, because Manchin and Romney would both be over 80 by the end of their first term. Dreaming on Manchin and Romney makes it absolutely stark just how much bad faith is involved in the “Biden, and only Biden, is too old to be president” argument,
- Paul is also 100% dead right that if you don’t like the age of the two viable candidates, your beef is with primary voters, not “party elites.” A large number of relatively young candidates ran for the 2020 Democratic nomination, and the result was 84.7% of the vote going to candidates over 75 and 92.4% to candidates over 70.
- Barring force majeure, the winner of the 2024 presidential election will be Biden or Trump. Their ages are similar, and Biden is plainly more able to handle the basic duties of president. In this context, claiming that that Biden’s age is a decisive issue is just someone who wants Trump to win but wants to retain some plausible deniability.
- Because age is immaterial to this particular race, the only reason to prefer Trump is because you prefer reactionary authoritarianism to liberalism. That’s it.
- Supporting the No Labels pro-Trump ratfucking campaign featuring one or two very old retiring senators and claiming that you have no choice because Biden is just too old is a particularly pathetic way to acquiesce to an authoritarian presidency. Just own it at least!