Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. The 2024 race has begun. It is a fight between two very old men.
Jonathan V. Last: "When people say Biden is “old” what they mean is “frail.” Trump is functionally the same age as a Biden, with a much worse BMI and cognitive functioning. But because Trump can yell at the moon like a mad dog, people see him as “vigorous” and age isn’t a problem.
Aides have President Biden take the shorter stairs to board Air Force One. When it comes to news conferences, they yell loudly — and quickly — to end the questions, sometimes stealing a classic awards show tactic and playing loud music to signal the conclusion of the event. And forget about regular interviews with major news publications, including a traditional presidential sit-down on Super Bowl Sunday.
Over the years, some of Mr. Biden’s key aides have gone from letting “Joe be Joe” to wrapping a presidential cocoon around him that is intended to shield him from verbal slips and physical stumbles.
All presidents are shielded by the strictures of the office, yet for Mr. Biden, who at 81 is the oldest person in history to hold the job, the decision is not only situational but strategic, according to several people who are familiar with the dynamic. The cloistered nature of his White House reflects a concern among some of his top aides that Mr. Biden, who has always been prone to gaffes, risks making a mistake.