NY Times Celebrates Elderly Biden’s Robust Health; Demanded Details From McCain

News & Politics

People on both sides of the political aisle have expressed concerns about President Biden’s mental acuity, but the New York Times says no worries, “Age is more than a number.” Reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote the puff piece for Sunday’s edition: “President Biden Is Turning 80. Experts Say Age Is More Than a Number,”  

President Biden has said it is a “legitimate question to ask anybody over 70 years old whether or not they’re fit” to serve in the White House. To those who question his fitness, he has a stock answer: “Watch me.”

….

….left unsaid is that Mr. Biden would be 86 at the end of a second term, should he run in 2024 and win — a fact that his critics have seized upon and that gives even some Democrats pause.

But while the risk of life-threatening diseases, dementia and death rises faster with each passing decade of a person’s life, experts in geriatrics say that people in their 80s who are active, engaged and have a sense of purpose can remain productive and healthy – and that wisdom and experience are important factors to consider.

“Wisdom,” eh?

The New York Times spoke to 10 experts in aging to paint a picture of what the next six years might look like for a person of the president’s age….

Mr. Biden, these experts agreed, has a lot going in his favor: He is highly educated, has plenty of social interaction, a stimulating job that requires a lot of thinking, is married and has a strong family network….

Stolberg rounded up excuses for Biden’s miscues — including searching an audience for a congresswoman who had died the previous month — as “common in older people.”

This was the red flag that wasn’t:

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Mr. Biden did not undergo cognitive screening during his last physical, and experts are divided about its necessity for older adults….

Stolberg concluded with this stunner:

As to whether age should matter in any election, Dr. Nir Barzilai, who is leading a study of centenarians and directs the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, put it simply: “Age,” he said, “is not something to consider on its own.”

Compare that incuriosity about Biden’s failure to get a cognitive screening with the unforgiving Times editorial of May 4, 2008, demanding then-Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain release even more detail about his bouts with melanoma.

Senator John McCain is 71 years old, a survivor of an aggressive form of skin cancer. If elected, he would be the oldest man to become president.

These factors are not disqualifying, but they impose on Mr. McCain a larger duty than usual to provide detailed, timely disclosure about his health. So far, he has failed to meet this obligation to voters, even though he is now the presumed Republican nominee.

Even after McCain opened up his medical records to the press, the editorial page was still not satisfied, complaining on October 21, 2008 that

…reporters were not allowed to photocopy any documents, making it harder for them to ask other experts what the medical findings might imply.

There’s an interesting sidelight about then-Sen. Biden regarding his past surgery for “potentially life-threatening aneurysms in the brain,” a possible ongoing health concern ignored by Stolberg’s current story.

At the Times, only senior-citizen Republican presidential candidates are suspect, while significantly older Democratic candidates get soft, “Age Is More Than a Number” scrutiny.

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