The only chance that either Joe Biden or Donald Trump has to win in 2024 is if the other one is his opponent. It’s like a game of reverse chicken. Whoever drops out first will give his party the best chance to win.
I have known President Biden since 1988, when I was a senior at Penn. I was co-captain of the Sprint Football Team and a wide receiver. Beau Biden was an underclassman, also a wide receiver, and a friend. Beau was a really, really good guy. So is his Dad. I was also involved in campus politics, and then-Senator Biden hosted a small group of students after a practice one night.
The visit with him elevated my desire to have an impact with my life, and I sought a job on Capitol Hill. His office offered me a role as a legislative correspondent. Congressman Harold Ford, Sr. (D-TN), offered me a better job as a legislative assistant with a much better salary. While grateful for the opportunity to work for Senator Biden, I chose to work for Mr. Ford.
I ran across Senator and Mrs. Biden one night in 1991 at Union Station and exchanged a brief and pleasant hello.
Fast forward 24 years to 2015. Beau passed away. There was a wake at a church in Wilmington. I went to pay my respects after work, and the line around the church was really long. Of course, I was going to stay. Like I said, Beau was a really, really good guy. And so is his Dad. I was probably one of the last 10 in the line, so it was close to midnight when I got into the church. As I was next to be greeted, he looked at me to his left, smiled and said, “Seth, thank you so much for coming.”
I was in awe. I had seen him once in 24 years. He was burying his son the next morning, had been greeting people all day and night, and still had the presence to greet me by name with a smile and a firm handshake. Mr. Biden was unbelievably sharp.
That was then
It pains me to say this, and I know writing this means I will be persona non-grata in many of my circles, but President Biden is not the same man today and should immediately suspend his re-election campaign. He is not as mentally sharp, and is rapidly slowing down physically, as almost every human being does after 80 years old. Compare his responses this year to those of 2 years ago in press conferences, specifically.
Just this weekend, in Hanoi, Biden was mid-sentence, giving a rambling answer to a reporter’s question, when White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told the media “thank you everybody, this ends the press conference.” (Biden joked moments earlier, according to Forbes, “I don’t know about you, but I’m going to go to bed.”) Let’s be clear, Ms. Jean-Pierre did not end it because she thought it was going to go better. She obviously knew it would get worse.
In fact, President Biden is currently the oldest President ever. By a lot. Here is a list of the next oldest:
- Ronald Reagan was 77 years old when he finished his second term.
- Donald Trump was 70 years old when he started his first term.
- William Henry Harrison was 68 years old when he took office in 1841, and died 31 days into the job.
- James Buchanan was 65 years old in 1857, and served one term, as he promised when he ran.
- George H.W. Bush was 64 years old when he took office, and only served one term.
Biden’s physical health should be everyone’s top concern, because we elect a president, not a vice president. He could very well lose to Donald Trump and put our democracy at risk.
Simply put, the Office of the Presidency is not meant for a man over 80. Donald Trump is also too old. He, too, would be older if he was elected than Ronald Reagan was when he finished his second term.
Democrats know this but are reluctant to say this in public, and there is the same “stand by our guy” and “us versus them” mentality that exists on the other side. Look what that accomplished on January 6, 2021. We should be placing our commitment to our nation above our commitment to an individual.
Joe Biden gets to choose if he wants to be the statesman who saved our democracy in 2020 or the last president who opened the door for a dictator in 2024. When we elected Biden, it was mostly to stop Trump. Yes, he has done some great things for the country, both at home and abroad. But almost no one in either party wants him to run again.
Biden should spend his remaining time being a statesman, speaking at functions for exorbitant fees, and enriching his family in the myriad of perfectly legal and time-honored ways ex-Presidents always have.
The perfect slate exists.
We have a ready made candidate who will trump Trump. Governor Gretchen Whitmer should be the Dems’ nominee, no primaries required.
Whitmer is a successful governor in a swing state; she is whip smart and would mop the orange man in a debate. And she is a progressive centrist who would capture the independent vote that is needed for victory. Whitmer has effectively worked on both sides of the aisle, and enacted meaningful tax cuts, education reforms and infrastructure programs in Michigan, all of which are desperately needed nationwide.
The perfect Veep candidate? Chester County Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA). Houlahan, a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, is a centrist if there ever were a centrist in a purple swing state. She has vital national security experience, and both she and her father are veterans of our armed forces. She is as smart a person as anyone you’ll ever meet, and also one who would never try to steal the limelight from her boss. (I say this from personal experience: When I was CEO of AND 1, she was COO.) Houlahan would be an historically effective vice president, working with both sides of the aisle.
Whitmer/Houlahan Win 2024 Presidential Election in Landslide
This should be the headline on November 6, 2024. All that needs to happen is for Joe to step aside.
The time is now. The Republicans know how to beat Biden. The answer is really easy. Let him age another year.
If Biden is our nominee, and Trump beats him handily — which he will —we deserve what we will get, a dictator in a crooked government who cares only about himself. Just ask his kids.
Joe Biden has always put the needs of the country above his own. He risked an amazing legacy as a senator and vice president to run again, to serve his country. It is time for him to place the nation’s needs above his own once more and pass the baton of leadership to the next generation.
Seth Berger is the head boys basketball coach at The Westtown School. He was founder/CEO of And1 basketball apparel company. He has a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from Wharton.
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