Trump and Biden Each Have One Very Serious Problem. How Can That Be Fixed?

AP Photo, File

Virtually every person vying for any political office has one or more major drawbacks that the candidate and campaign must seek to defuse or explain before opponents embed a deciding concern in voters’ minds.

What’s unique about this looming United States 2024 presidential contest is that the leading candidates for both major parties have a serious fundamental problem that cannot be dodged, altered, avoided, or erased.

How Joe Biden and Donald Trump address their differing liabilities in the coming months will likely be the key deciding factor in determining who becomes the next commander in chief and leader of the free world. It’s not a small concern for them or us.

For Joe Biden, it’s actually not his age, which becomes 81 this year and 86 by the end of a second term. The obvious overpowering concern is his mental and physical condition attached to that age.

Aides admit they must carefully schedule the short workdays in his short work weeks and keep public events generally confined to the six hours out of 24 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Even so, virtually every opportunity to see the nation’s chief executive in public provides cringeworthy moments in which he loses his train of thought, loses his place on the teleprompter or stage, yells or whispers inappropriately, can’t remember names of people standing or sitting next to him, closes his eyes for long unexplained moments, shakes hands with invisible people, or falls down.

Talking in Connecticut the other day, the president suddenly let loose with an inexplicable, “God Save the Queen, man.”

NASA would call these “anomalies.” But RedState excluded, media treats these generally as unremarkable events not yet worthy of 25th Amendment consideration. Easy to imagine, however, a radically different reaction if the addled president was Republican.

These are quite familiar disabilities for anyone who’s witnessed an elderly relative experience the inevitable mental and physical decay of advancing age.

It’s instinctive for most humans to feel sympathy for that. It’s likely someone they care about who gave them kind care years before and also, not coincidentally, they know that’s their own future if they’re lucky enough to get that old.

But, damn! Joe Biden is the commander in chief who, God forbid, might well face the decision someday to commit our loved ones who volunteered for military service to dangerous duties.

It’s one thing if he or family could provide a reasonable explanation for occasional mishaps beyond “that stupid sandbag” or a possessive bike pedal.

Vice President Joe Biden, center, pauses alongside his family as they to enter a visitation for his son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Thursday, June 4, 2015, at Legislat

Biden himself occasionally does an unconvincing short skip to show how sharp and virile he remains, then resumes his old-man shuffle to guard against stumbles.

Instead, the administration and its sympathetic media ignore or seek to cloak what’s blatantly obvious even to those who chose to skip over all the similar signs during the 2020 basement campaign because of their overpowering antipathy for Biden’s opponent.

The post-arraignment speech of Trump, who turned 77 last week, was uncharacteristically subdued. But he’s shown none of the physical shortcomings of Biden.

Indeed, in the fall of 2020, when basement Biden was wrapping up his campaign days by 10:30 a.m., Trump was doing three or four major rallies in as many states each day. He’s done fewer this spring.

We’ll see how Trump handles increasingly pointed criticism from his party opponents. His outbursts, nicknames, and vicious attacks, even on their family members, were accentuated in 2016 by a media that adore such conflict with their excited combat headlines.

His 16 opponents also seemed flummoxed and frustrated by that and their inability to break through with their own messages.

You may already have imagined a repetition of that. But Trump was an unpredictable novelty back then. Now, he’s got a four-year record of presidential actions and policies on top of that outrageous behavior that’s worn thin in many minds.

If the others remain serious and measured in their debate minutes, the contrast with Trump’s empty bombast could very well damage him.

Trump’s main trouble – actually, troubles — are legal. He’s twice indicted now, with another possible in Georgia. Those trials likely will start during the campaign.

As Biden can do nothing about his fading mental and physical abilities, Trump has no control over the unprecedented legal proceedings against a former president.

Do they constitute an unbalanced justice system?


Democrat prosecutors are going after the current president’s predecessor and possible next election opponent when Democrat prosecutors gave Hillary Clinton a hall pass over her classified material email scandal just before she faced Trump.

This hands Trump a gold-plated, applause-laden stump riff that he will deliver often about prosecutorial persecution guaranteed to energize his rock solid, if somewhat diminished, base.

Could we somehow right the imbalance by going back and prosecuting Clinton to even things up? No, the statute of limitations has expired, and even an addled Biden would never consider that.

Legal experts on both sides agree that the counts in Trump’s indictment, if proven in court, are strong.

Of course, as Mike Pence noted on ‘Meet the Press’ this weekend, there is no guarantee a Florida jury will convict its most prominent resident. And if he walks as the GOP nominee, he’ll likely walk straight back into the Oval Office.

But Marc Thiessen has an idea that grows on you. He’s one of the few national pundits who doesn’t seem to breathe the Swamp’s air or drink its water.

In a recent column, he notes the rabid feelings on both sides. The unrelenting urge by the left to wreak revenge on this billionaire cretin for shattering its presumed 2016 win with hoax conspiracies, endless media criticism, and two impeachments.

And the conviction by Trump addicts and even fair-minded critics that this prosecution, even if the indictment’s charges are ultimately proven, forever will squat in the public’s mind as political persecution worthy of some Central American country sending thousands to assault our southern border.

And that this prosecution in response to Trump’s non-cooperation over classified documents in his possession has pushed the nation into uncharted territory with dangerous legal precedents amid an already pitched partisan environment.

Thiessen wrote:

Selective prosecution is not a defense in a court of law, but the court of public opinion is another matter. Millions will see Trump’s prosecution as illegitimate, and any conviction as unjust. That will further erode public confidence in our judicial system and the principle of equal justice under law.

Biden could, he adds, have the special counsel produce a convincing detailed report on his findings for history. And then Biden could pardon Trump, much like President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon.

Biden would be a true statesman. Sparing the country the ordeal of a trial would go a long way toward repairing the nation’s frayed political fabric. He would display the kind of leadership that has been missing in Washington. And he would drive Trump crazy.

With one action, Biden would eliminate the narrative of a deep-state conspiracy that’s fueling Trump’s political comeback.

Honestly, I can’t see Joe Biden doing anything statesmanlike ever. But the people pulling his strings from backstage have to see the political benefits.

There’d be blowback, of course, from the left. But where else are they going to go? A pardon would, at a stroke, erase Trump’s political martyrdom, elevate Biden’s stature, diminish the age issue, and not coincidentally save the country from the lingering political poison of another “long national nightmare.”

Such a grand gesture could well propel Biden past the angry Trump.

A controversial result that wouldn’t solve Biden’s age problem or correct Trump’s over-the-top behavior. But it would level the justice playing field and put the 2024 election decision back where it belongs, in the hands of voters.


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