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Biden Age: Could the Antiques Roadshow Reach a Dead End?

With the impeachment and the "Biden crime family" narrative apparently going up in flames, Joe Biden's age would seem to be the very best cudgel the Republicans have on this year's campaign trail. To that end, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) has just scheduled Special Counsel Robert Hur for a March 12 hearing, in which Hur will draw on his extensive experience in neurology and gerontology to once again opine on the President's mental fitness. That should give Fox, what, a week's worth of material?

But maybe, just maybe, this is a mistake. Alex Conant is one of the best-connected political strategists in Washington, and a Republican, though not a Trumpy one. In a new op-ed written for Politico, he insists that running against your opponent's age is not a winner, and Republicans will do so this year at their own peril.

Conant begins by observing that he very much would like presidential candidates this year who are not also candidates for the old folks' home. However, drawing on his extensive experience, he believes that both age and lack of mental acuity just don't work as lines of attack. "One is hard pressed to identify a single president, governor or senator who lost reelection because voters thought they were too old. And that's despite many younger challengers leveling that attack," Conant writes. Without using their names (for some reason), he brings up the examples of Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and John Fetterman (D-PA); the former having won reelection as an octogenarian in 2022, the latter having overcome a stroke and "serious cognitive health concerns" to defeat Mehmet Oz. Conant also notes that when he worked for Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign, they tried to use Donald Trump's age as a weapon, and it didn't work, any better than it's working for Nikki Haley right now.

While we are passing Conant's opinion along, since his expertise means he should be taken seriously, we are very skeptical of his conclusions. It is one thing if a U.S. Senator can't remember their own name. It's another thing entirely if the person responsible for responding to a nuclear attack, or handling any other such crisis, isn't playing with a full deck. Also, Biden is much more prone to the sorts of gaffes that give this issue legs, as compared to Grassley or Fetterman or nearly anyone else (well, nearly anyone else not named Trump).

There is one thing that does give us pause, however, and that makes us think that mayyyyyyyybe Conant will be proven correct. Remember that during the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton expended much oxygen reminding people of Donald Trump's shortcomings. As a result, the attacks became somewhat tiresome and people began to tune them out. Meanwhile, she wasn't doing enough to tell people how she was going to make their lives better. We can at least imagine a world where Republican attacks on Biden for being old end up getting, well, old.

It is also the case that the "doddering old man" line of attack will be reliant on Biden making more gaffes, something that is not in the Republicans' control. So, there are strong arguments for finding some other angles. Maybe the fact that Biden's dog apparently bit every USSS agent in sight (a staggering 24 additional incidents, on top of the ones that were already known) before being banished from the White House. We understand the reluctance to banish the First Dog, but that is just not good judgment. (Z)

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