President Biden is plagued by ageism in the media - analysis

At age 79, Biden has been under the magnifying glass since the day he took office, as detractors look for any sign of mental or physical fatigue.

 US President Joe Biden attends the Quad leaders’ summit, in Tokyo, Japan, May 24, 2022. (photo credit: YUICHI YAMAZAKI/POOL VIA REUTERS)
US President Joe Biden attends the Quad leaders’ summit, in Tokyo, Japan, May 24, 2022.
(photo credit: YUICHI YAMAZAKI/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Local pundits on social media and Israel papers have been quick to jump on gaps in the schedule for US President Joe Biden’s visit to the country as being designated for "nap time."

Much was also made that no evening events have been scheduled for the visiting president, who reportedly turns in early.

At age 79, Biden has been under the magnifying glass since the day he took office, as detractors look for any sign of mental or physical fatigue.

Even the usually sympathetic New York Times this week ran a story headlined: "At 79, Biden Is Testing the Boundaries of Age and the Presidency" with a subhead saying "President Biden has said he plans to run for a second term, but his age has become an uncomfortable issue for him and his party."

Even if Biden’s challenger in the 2020 election, former President Donald Trump, hadn’t penned the sticky nickname of “Sleepy Joe” on him, the age factor would undoubtedly have become and remained an issue on the US political landscape.

 US President Joe Biden speaks after signing an executive order to help safeguard women's access to abortion and contraception after the Supreme Court last month overturned Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion, at the White House in Washington, US, July 8, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE) US President Joe Biden speaks after signing an executive order to help safeguard women's access to abortion and contraception after the Supreme Court last month overturned Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion, at the White House in Washington, US, July 8, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)

Despite the image which Trump had planted in people’s minds – and which had been taken up by various media outlets – Biden won the election. But the ageism factor did not go away – even though at 79, Biden is far from the world’s oldest head of state, head of government or political leader.

Biden is not the only senior leader

Moses remained the leader of the Children of Israel until his death at the age of 120.

Queen Elizabeth of England is 96, and her mind is as sound as ever, even though she may be physically frail.

Robert Mugabe ruled as President of Zimbabwe till he was 93 years old.

Shimon Peres was 84 when he took up his position as the ninth president of the State of Israel, and he continued to come up with innovative and effective ideas throughout his presidency, travelled widely and frequently, and was sought after by world leaders and other dignitaries who valued his opinion. This continued up to his death in 2016 at age 93. But until then, his mind was clear, and he had delivered a lecture less than an hour before he collapsed.

Admittedly, cognitive decline is generally associated with ageing, but even young and middle-aged people suffer from it.

Former Mossad director and politician, retired Maj.-Gen. Danny Yatom, in January 2021, hoping to emulate the late Rafi Eitan who headed the Gil pensioners’ party in the Knesset, announced the formation of a new, similar party called Vatikei Israel (Israeli Veterans).   Unfortunately, it did not cross the threshold, and in response to a question put to him by The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Yatom said that he was not running again this time around.

Asked about ageism, specifically in relation to Biden, Yatom said that there are some people who are chronologically old, but mentally young. If they are mentally capable, there is no reason why people of Biden’s age and older should be disqualified on grounds of ageismת said Yatom, who is convinced that the president is capable of making a valuable contribution to the United States.  “Age should not be a factor,” Yatom declared.

Former US President Jimmy Carter, at 97, continues to be a public figure, speaking out on various issues, remaining loyal to the Democratic Party and endorsing its candidates.

Outside of the political realm, there are seniors working either professionally or voluntarily in numerous fields. Three frequent contributors to The Jerusalem Post are nonagenarians who are physically quite spry – and mentally, completely on the ball.

Compared to them, Biden – who will turn 80 on November 20 – is a spring chicken.