Krugman interrupts the endless parade of did-you-know-Joe-Biden-and-only-Joe-Biden-among-candidates-for-president-is-OLD columns at NYT opinion to suggest that the survival of American democracy should perhaps be given some weight by the nation’s political press:
But watching the frenzy over President Biden’s age, I am, for the first time, profoundly concerned about the nation’s future. It now seems entirely possible that within the next year, American democracy could be irretrievably altered.
And the final blow won’t be the rise of political extremism — that rise certainly created the preconditions for disaster, but it has been part of the landscape for some time now. No, what may turn this menace into catastrophe is the way the hand-wringing over Biden’s age has overshadowed the real stakes in the 2024 election. It reminds me, as it reminds everyone I know, of the 2016 furor over Hillary Clinton’s email server, which was a minor issue that may well have wound up swinging the election to Donald Trump.
As most people know by now, Robert Hur, a special counsel appointed to look into allegations of wrongdoing on Biden’s part, concluded that the president shouldn’t be charged. But his report included an uncalled-for and completely unprofessional swipe at Biden’s mental acuity, apparently based on the president’s difficulty in remembering specific dates — difficulty that, as I wrote on Friday, everyone confronts at whatever age. Hur’s gratuitous treatment of Biden echoed James Comey’s gratuitous treatment of Clinton — Hur and Comey both seemed to want to take political stands when that was not their duty.
t’s a case of bureaucrats overstepping their bounds in a way that’s at best careless and at worst malicious.
Yes, it’s true that Biden is old, and will be even older if he wins re-election and serves out a second term. I wish that Democrats had been able to settle on a consensus successor a year or two ago and that Biden had been able to step aside in that successor’s favor without setting off an intraparty free-for-all. But speculating about whether that could have happened is beside the point now. It didn’t happen, and Biden is going to be the Democratic nominee.
I don’t understand why he doesn’t get that the Democratic Party could have just uncontroversially replaced Biden with Johnny Unbeatable though some unspecified mechanism but they didn’t. even. try.