In the world of politics, age can be a tricky subject. President Joe Biden, who is steadily moving towards renomination for another term, faces an issue he can do little about concerns regarding his age and fitness to serve as he approaches 82.
Despite these pressing concerns, President Biden remains reluctant to fully address questions about his capacity to run for re-election.
The most striking aspect of this issue is his reluctance to tackle it head-on. Apart from the occasional wisecrack about his age and wisdom, Biden has done little to confront perhaps the most significant threat to his re-election, let alone make any sustained effort to quell the concerns that dominate surveys and focus groups.
Biden's exacting interest in the mechanics of his campaign contrasts with his resistance to being handled by advisers on the age matter.
Democrats close to him report that he has conducted minimal polling on how to reassure voters about his age, and he's even unwilling to consider hearing aids. The topic remains a sensitive one for the President.
But as the election deadlines draw near, the growing concern about Biden's age and fitness is not limited to his inner circle.
Democrats facing tough re-elections themselves are hearing about voters' worries regarding Biden, which prompts them to consider an intra-party challenge. Some believe that a competitive primary could demonstrate his fitness and help him gain public trust.
As the prospect of a full-scale primary remains unlikely, one Democrat, Rep. Dean Phillips from Minnesota, is weighing the possibility of a bid. While not committing to a full campaign yet, he contemplates a challenge to Biden, recognizing the elephant in the room. He seeks inspiration from historical figures like John F. Kennedy, believing that someone needs to address the issue.
This debate surrounding Biden's age is not limited to House Democrats alone. Even in focus groups with voters, the predominant concern is his age, often described with terms like "old" or "slowing down." This issue extends beyond party lines, with voters also mentioning concerns about Donald Trump's age.
Biden's defenders argue that he has been underestimated before, and this could be another instance of misjudgment. However, this argument only holds until it doesn't, and his age concerns persist.
So, the question remains: how can President Biden assure the country of his capability to serve another four-year term?
Some suggest a light approach, akin to Ronald Reagan's humor, while others believe he should tackle the subject directly, perhaps in a "60 Minutes" interview alongside the First Lady, assuring the public that they would never embark on another race if he were not up for it.
Ultimately, President Biden will need to address this issue directly. Whether it's through humor, candid interviews, or other means, reassuring the public about his fitness is becoming increasingly important as the election draws nearer.
The choice to face this challenge or ignore it will shape the path of his political journey and, indeed, the future of the nation.