Biden’s Age, Trump’s Vim and Vigor

To listen to the fretting over how many hours a day Biden can vigorously work, how many speeches he can authoritatively deliver and how many miles he can comfortably travel is to get the sense that he’s independently on the hook for the nation’s welfare. That he’s more action figure than decision maker. That, um, he alone can fix it. That he shoulders all the responsibility.

But he’s not Atlas; he’s POTUS. And the president of the United States is only as good as the advisers around him, whose selection reflects presidential judgment, not stamina.

We acknowledge as much when we discuss how a president might fill or has filled his cabinet. We recognize that many vital decisions are made — and that most important policies are realized — outside of the Oval Office.

Really, how many people say to themselves: Heck, Biden may be the guy with a proper respect for democracy, won’t blow air kisses at murderous tyrants and doesn’t sound like a fascist, but that Trump sure can shout louder, talk faster and clomp around more thuddingly! He’ll bring the vim to trashing democracy that Biden can’t muster for preserving it. I guess I’ll go with Trump!

No, many of these Trump supporters like what he’s selling — maybe the lower taxes for corporations and wealthy Americans, maybe the promised crackdown on immigration, maybe the nihilism, maybe just the vitriol — and have found a way to defend a vote for him (Biden’s decrepit!) without fully owning up to it.

In an age of rampant falsity, let’s be honest about that.

Frank Bruni

March 28, 2024

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