Republicans want Biden to trip up — literally - GulfToday

Republicans want Biden to trip up — literally

President Joe Biden is helped up after falling during the graduation ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Academy in El Paso County, Colorado. AFP

President Joe Biden is helped up after falling during the graduation ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Academy in El Paso County, Colorado. AFP

Skylar Baker-Jordan, The Independent

On Thursday, Joe Biden tripped while walking onstage at an Air Force Academy graduation ceremony in Colorado. (It happens to the best of us, Mr President.) Of course, the right didn’t waste any time metaphorically kicking our chief executive while he is literally down — something rightwing gadfly Ben Shapiro thinks is perfectly acceptable. “You cannot have it both ways,” he scolds us Democrats. “Either Biden is perfectly fit and him falling down is funny particularly because he is perfectly fit, or he is not physically fit and we shouldn’t laugh because it is dangerous for an 80-year-old man to fall down.”

There you have it, folks, the double-bind we are all going to be in for the next 17 months. Either Republicans are perfectly within their rights to insult, denigrate, and mock Joe Biden and every other American to the left of Barry Goldwater or they are not because he is too frail to do the job and we are too sensitive to take a joke. Join in the bullying or stand in their way and get bullied. It’s a rubbish choice. It is also a false one.

Yes, Joe Biden has fallenmore than once. Yes, as an entire generation learned from cable TV, sometimes seniors fall and can’t get up; according to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults. Yes, that all makes his health a serious concern for voters. I will not deny that.

As our clumsy commander-in-chief is prone to say — compare him to the alternative, not the almighty. Biden is 80; Donald Trump, who for all intents and purposes is the nominee presumptive of the Republican Party, is hardly any younger at 76. Trump is also known for his love of fast food and his sizable girth.

There is no shame in that; I’m a big boy who loves a Big Mac too. However, I am not running for president of the United States. My health is, quite frankly, none of your concern. As I wrote last month, Mr Biden’s and Mr Trump’s health most certainly is your concern and mine, because both of these men are trying to occupy the most important office in our nation. I will not shame anyone — even Republicans or rightwing pundits — for bringing this up. It is a valid worry.

Let us have that conversation honestly and without malice, then. Let us discuss the fact that the best options the only two parties that matter can actually muster make Abe Simpson look young. Let us discuss what that means for our democracy-cum-gerontocracy and whether anyone should be able to lead a political party from the time a 16-year-old blogger is discovering LiveJournal to the time a 36-year-old journalist complains about it in an international newspaper column. I am here for that conversation, as I imagine are most of my fellow Americans.

What we should not abide, however, is to resort to hyperbole and exaggeration. If Biden’s fall is salient to a criticism of his political policies (the way Trump’s contracting Covid was), then we should be free to make that point. A trip on a podium at an Air Force Academy graduation, though, tells us nothing about Joe Biden’s foreign or defence policies. It may be germane to his health, but Republicans are in no position to have that discussion — Trump’s own health has long been in question because Trump himself avoids sharing medical records. He has also lied about how severe his illness is, as reporting by the New York Times uncovered he did when hospitalised with Covid-19. This conversation cannot be allowed to descend into a Biden bashing bonanza, which is what I am afraid it is going to be for the next year and a half. Republicans seem incapable of doing anything but spewing malice. With their standard bearer — the twice-impeached former president — facing criminal indictment and no spring chicken himself, it is all they have. This is going to get ugly.

I don’t think it will work, though. We know he is old. It is baked into our appraisal of him, just as it is baked into the alternative you present us with. Better milk that’s on the turn than stale arsenic.

If it sounds like I am frustrated, it is because I am. I am annoyed that we even need to discuss this. Joe Biden got right back up and by all indications is fine. Issues of his health seem overblown to me. Same with Trump if I am being honest. Yet at the same time, I am also frustrated because it makes sense that people are concerned. These are not young men, and the past eight years have been disruptive enough.

I saw the final season of Succession just like all of you. I know what comes next. Either of these men dying in office would be potentially catastrophic, especially in our conspiracy-laden political environment. None of us have time for that, and frankly, I’m not sure our Republic could withstand it unscathed.

We need to step back, then, reflect on this soberly. No cheap political points. No name calling. No catastrophizing. An old man fell. It’s not great, but he got back up and by all reports is fine. There is no need for it to be more than it is.

At the same time, because that old man is the president and will likely be facing a challenge from another old man, perhaps we should have a conversation about age and political office. That is a difficult conversation to have for a number of reasons, though, which means it needs to be conducted with compassion and sensitivity. I am just not sure the right is ready to do that, and until they are, I don’t think any of us should entertain this. It’s a long time until the next election. We have plenty of time to discuss the age and health of our candidates, a discussion that must occur. I hope by then, however, that the Republican Party and its media mouthpieces will have found their sense of decency to have it frankly and honestly.

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