USA: Joe Biden looks old against Donald Trump. What’s the matter?

If Americans were to elect a new president today, Donald Trump would probably have an easy time of it. Incumbent Joe Biden looks old against the Republican who has been accused several times. Literally and figuratively. Why actually?

“Where am I?” the old man asks in a shaky voice, groping with unsteady hands for support, for a railing, for a path that leads from the stage – only to stop, gesticulating at a loss, in front of the wall behind the lectern . “Where the hell am I?!” he asks again as he turns around. The audience cheers. Not out of glee at the speaker’s frailty, but out of applause for his successful parody. It is not the first time that Donald Trump has ridiculed his ex-and probably soon-to-be-re-rival Joe Biden in front of the cameras.

But imitated or original: scenes like these are nothing new for the 80-year-old US president. Biden is known for his spontaneous disorientation, his stumbling, his verbal misfires.

If only it were a matter of temporary inactivity. Many Americans, whether right or left, are asking themselves: Is this man still the right person for the job?

At least according to a survey published on Sunday by the New York Times (NYT) and New York’s Siena College (the star reported) exactly one year from the presidential election, it doesn’t look like it will. According to this, Trump is ahead in five of the six swing states, those politically shaky and therefore particularly contested states – and in some cases it is shockingly clear. In 2020, Biden won all six states. It’s not the only poll that clearly shows Trump as the favorite.

The absurd: On paper, Biden is quite successful as president. The question is: what is the problem then?

The duel of the grandfathers: Is Biden just too old?

If a 77-year-old man can credibly make fun of an 80-year-old man, the latter has a problem. That’s just part of the truth.

Donald Trump was already of age at the time of the first moon landing. But, no matter how much can be said against the populist who has been accused several times: Biden’s joints crack much louder in the duel between the grandfathers.

According to the Times poll, more than 70 percent of voters already believe Biden is too old for the job. If the Democrat is able to stay in the White House, he would be 86 years old at the end of his second term.

In addition, Biden’s approval among his grandchildren’s generation is dwindling. According to the New York Times, one in two people under 30 still supports the Democrat, but that was once more. If someone else were standing today, really any another Democrat in the election, 58 percent of young voters would buy a pig in a poke. Or the hangover.

“I could drop dead tomorrow. I think it’s legitimate to think about it,” Biden said in an interview with the US broadcaster “MSNBC” at the end of October. Voters should simply decide for themselves whether he will “slow down.” However, it’s not about whether it’s slower. It’s about whether it seems too “slow”. Biden can slide off the stage flawlessly after 99 out of 100 appearances. The one time he stumbles becomes a meme. And assuming Biden doesn’t discover his inner Benjamin Button, he will stumble more and more often. The question is: How many times can Biden fall before he or his dignity is permanently damaged?

Joe Biden: a bad salesman

Even if long-running ideological issues such as gun rights, abortion policy or LGBTQ rights dominate the public discourse: in the end, the average US voter is primarily interested in what he can see. Anyone who is undecided before the vote asks themselves: Do I have more or less money in my wallet today than I did four years ago? In September, 20 percent of consumers said their personal finances had worsened since Biden took office, according to a University of Michigan survey. Although inflation and the symbolic price of gasoline are gradually leveling off, they are not yet at pre-Corona levels. It doesn’t matter that Biden was handed over the White House in a way that was anything but clean. And so short-term symbolic politics are usually more worthwhile than long-term strategies. In other words, reaction beats vision. At least in the post/pre-Trump era.

Today’s gas pump is closer to Americans than tomorrow’s glacier melt. Very few people know that both are possible. An example: the Inflation Reduction Act. With the IRA, Biden has actually found an impressive way to save both the planet and US jobs. The heart of his ambitious economic policy, “Bidenomics,” costs more than $370 billion. They are intended to create thousands and thousands of jobs, massively reduce energy prices and make the USA climate neutral. The problem: Hardly anyone knows about it. According to a survey by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland, seven out of ten US citizens have heard little or nothing about the IRA. Biden promises greenery from heaven – and no one listens.

The IRA is just part of the master plan. The state wants to pump an incredible $1 trillion into the infrastructure and, with the so-called “Chip Act,” bring home the production of semiconductors, which is highly relevant in terms of security policy. But the term “Bidenomics” is apparently too unwieldy even for Biden. “I don’t know what the hell this is,” he said in a speech earlier this year. “Whoever came up with the Bidenomics slogan should be fired,” NBC News quoted a Democratic strategist as saying. However, everyone understands “Maga”. “Maga” fits better on T-shirts.

The fact that Democrats generally find it difficult to sell their victories as such is nothing new. Under Biden, the USA got Corona under control, industry is booming, millions found new jobs. But time and time again it became clear that Joe Biden was a terrible salesman. In a political landscape that increasingly resembles a marketplace in which the loudest gets the right, understatement is not a virtue, but a problem.

Not a question of alternatives

“I mean, the guy can’t even find his way off a stage,” Trump said in the aforementioned speech he gave to Republican voters in California. Even if Trump meant something different: figuratively speaking, he is not wrong.

Even within their own ranks they are now doubting their Joe. The well-known political strategist and former Obama advisor David Axelrod now asked whether Biden’s renewed candidacy “is in HIS best interest or that of the country?”

Why is it so difficult for Biden to pass the baton and leave the field to a new, younger Democrat? One explanation: Maybe it doesn’t at all. There’s just no one.

But those who basically have what it takes to take on the young-at-heart Maga man are all of the “yes, but” variety. Just a few examples: Camera-savvy California Governor Gavin Newsom would lose out against Trump’s anti-elite election campaign with his Kennedyesque charisma. The USA is not yet ready for Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic shooting star with the unpronounceable name. As sad as it is, a gay man still has no chance of getting into the Oval Office in 2023. Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic minority leader in the House of Representatives, has already demonstrated his talent for power politics and rhetoric on several occasions. However, although many sense Obama qualities in the 53-year-old African American, his popularity hardly extends beyond Capitol Hill. And it is almost impossible that Vice President Kamala Harris will make a big splash after her, to say the least, pale role as number 2. After all, she is even more unpopular than her boss.

The list could be continued – the “buts” would keep increasing. By the way, three Democrats have already thrown their hat into the ring alongside Biden. Never heard of them? Even.

But it’s true: They are there, the Biden alternatives. But none of them will oppose the incumbent. The Democrats have never been less able to afford an internal party power struggle. One thing is certain: Biden only has no alternative as long as he wants it. If he does decide to take a well-deserved retirement, it would be best to do so soon. Because, as is now usual, time works for the right.

What remains in the end is a bitter guess: Biden didn’t win last time because he was Biden. But because he wasn’t Trump. As of now, that is no longer an argument. On the contrary.

Sources: “New York Times”; “Politico”; “The Messenger”; “NBC News”; “Northeastern Global News”; “The Hill”.