"We don't see Trump riding a bike": Kevin Kruse on age and '24
"Being president is ultimately a desk job. It’s certainly demanding in a stamina sense, but there aren’t a lot of feats of strength."
Public Notice is entirely reader supported. To become part of the community and read everything we publish, please click the button to sign up for a free trial.
Hey, have you heard that President Biden is old? If you watch Fox News, you certainly have. Like, a zillion times a day.
Biden turned 81 last week, and Fox News celebrated by publishing an endless stream of articles that basically boiled down to yelling THIS GUY IS OLD. Check out the Google search results below and keep in mind that all those stories ran over the course of two days.
Fox’s on-air coverage hammered the same theme, with some of the commentary making it seem as though Biden was committing a moral failing by having a birthday.
In an episode illustrative of how desperate Fox is to keep viewers fixated on Biden’s age, Fox News correspondent Lucas Tomlinson reported on air Sunday that the president "continues to face questions about his age, even here in Nantucket.” The evidence for that claim? A clip of Tomlinson himself shouting at Biden on Saturday, “are you too old to be running for reelection?” (Biden responded, “that’s stupid.”)
To be fair, worries about Biden’s age extend beyond Fox News. More than one recent poll has shown that a majority of voters — including a majority of Democrats — think he’s too old to run for another term. You might hope that people would be more focused on the fact the country is unquestionably in better shape now than it was in January 2021, or realize that there’s little evidence of Biden being in decline beyond out-of-context clips spread by right-wing propagandists, or ponder that Donald Trump, his likely opponent in next year’s general election, is just three years younger, but ultimately the perception he’s lost his fastball will be something Biden has to contend with on the campaign trail.
RELATED FROM PN: Why you shouldn't sweat the 2024 polls — yet
To get some expert insight and historical perspective on how the age issue has played out in previous presidential elections, Public Notice contributor Thor Benson connected with Kevin Kruse, a history professor at Princeton University, acclaimed author, and onetime prolific tweeter who recently brought his posting talents to Threads. Kruse not only downplayed the idea that Biden’s age presents an existential problem for his presidency but made a case that he could turn it into an asset.
“He’s a gentle grandpa figure. He comes off a lot differently than Trump does. I think age will be the last of people’s concerns when the actual voting happens,” he said.
And as Kruse pointed out, it’s not like Biden’s presumptive Republican challenger is full of vim and vigor.
“We don’t see Trump riding a bike or at the beach with his shirt off like Biden,” he said.
A transcript of their conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows.