A geriatric for a US president

Pity the serious US voter if the campaign centres on the verbal slips of the two candidates! A geriatric race is on

Barring some surprising upset, incumbent President Joe Biden (right) will face his predecessor Donald Trump (left), who would be running for re-election to a second, non-consecutive term
Barring some surprising upset, incumbent President Joe Biden (right) will face his predecessor Donald Trump (left), who would be running for re-election to a second, non-consecutive term

On Tuesday, 5 November, this year, US voters will elect a president and vice president for a term of four years.

Although the election is 10 months away, it seems that the two candidates of the main parties are already known. Barring some surprising upset, incumbent President Joe Biden, a member of the Democratic Party will face his predecessor Donald Trump, of the Republican Party, who would be running for re-election to a second, nonconsecutive term. At the same time there will also be elections to the US Senate and the U.S. House of Repesentatives.

If – as it seems probable – both Biden and Trump are nominated by their respective parties, it would mark the first presidential rematch since 1956. A number of primary election challengers had also declared their candidacies for the nomination of both major parties but these have already been discarded as non-starters.

The winner of this election is scheduled to be inaugurated on 20 January, 2025. If Trump wins, he would become the second president to achieve non-consecutive terms.

The main issues on which the election campaign will concentrate concerns democracy itself, besides border security and immigration, economic issues, education, foreign policy, healthcare, including the right to abortion, and LGBT rights.

Nearly half of potential voters believe Donald Trump is too old to be president, although significantly more believe the same about President Joe Biden, according to a poll.

A Reuters/Ipsos survey of 1,250 adults showed 48% of people think that the 77-year-old Trump is too old to work in government. This includes 33% of Republicans, with a total of 56% believing that Trump should not run for president again.

In yet another poll suggesting that voters are dissatisfied with their potential choice of candidates in 2024, nearly three-quarters (74%) believe that the 81-year-old president is too old to work in government, and that 70% do not think Biden should run for office again.

US voters seem to be destined to face an unpalatable choice between two geriatrics.

More than two-thirds of potential voters (67%) say they are tired of seeing the same candidates in presidential elections, with 18% suggesting they are unlikely to vote in November's election if the two main candidates are Biden and Trump.

As they both seek a second term in office, concerns about the age and cognitive abilities of both Trump and Biden have been raised throughout the campaign trail.

Trump has recently faced questions about his own cognitive abilities after he appeared to confuse his last remaining serious challenger in the GOP primary, Nikki Haley, with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a campaign event. Trump falsely said that his Republican presidential rival was in charge of security at Congress when the complex was stormed by his supporters on 6 January, 2021. In any case, as Speaker, Pelosi was not in charge of Capitol security. He also suggested that former Democratic president Barack Obama was still in office.

During a recent campaign rally in Las Vegas, Trump boasted about how he passed a test, which is used to detect cognitive impairment or signs of decline such as dementia.

Meanwhile, a clip of a new verbal slip-up from President Joe Biden, in which he referred to Donald Trump as a ‘sitting president’, sparked renewed online mockery from conservatives.

Biden has long been noted for a trend of awkward verbal gaffes or slip-ups during public addresses, going back to his time as vice president from 2009 to 2017. As president, the trend has taken on a new dimension for many who claim that he, the oldest person to hold the office, is mentally unfit to lead the nation and point to his gaffes as proof. Others have defended Biden, noting his history with a stutter that may contribute to his public speaking difficulties.

I suspect that instead of concentrating on the issues that really matter, the two sides will be making a lot of fuss on the slips of either candidate, slips that suggest that whoever made them is not fit to run the country.

‘There's a lot of political nonsense involved in this,’ says aging expert Steven Austad, chair of the biology department at the University of Alabama Birmingham. ‘Aging makes people different,’ but affects them differently, he adds. "Some people at Biden's and Trump's age are in a nursing home. Others are running marathons and are writing great works of scholarship.’

Pity the serious US voter if the campaign centres on the verbal slips of the two candidates! A geriatric race is on.

Robert’s prodigal children

The Prime Minister has recently been making waves indicating that he is prepared to welcome back many who had fallen by the wayside when their political career ended up in a veritable mess.

He started with Rosianne Cutajar. She was followd by Justyne Caruana who had to resign twice from ministerial responsibility over a period of two years. Meanwhile, there is now talk of Josianne Cutajar deciding to contest the MEP elections, after she had inexplicably declared that she would not be attempting to keep the seat she won five years ago.

The biggest catch of all is none other than Robert Abela’s predecessor, Joseph Muscat himself who is being touted as a possible Labour candidate for the EP elections. The Sunday Times reported this week that the majority of cabinet members say they would support Muscat as a candidate for the European elections. It is known that many Labour Party supporters who had decided to refrain from voting in the EP elections would vote for Muscat if he is a candidate.

I do not think that politicians who make a mistake should necessarily lose all their political ambitions for the rest of their life. Everything depends on what kind of mistake it was.

There are mistakes that, as Dom Mintoff once famously said, cannot be erased with a rubber.

Will the PM also welcome back to the fold Slivio Grixti who is currently at the centre of investigations concerning a disability benefits racket?

It is wrong for the Prime Minister to welcome back all those who made ‘mistakes’ without giving the necessary weight to the type of ‘mistake’ that was made.

This sort of attitude undermines all the attempts that the Labour Party has made to depict itself as a serious no nonsense political party.