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It’s time for Biden to shuffle off the stage

Halfway through a ceremony at the White House last week, says Andrew Sullivan on Substack, Joe Biden suddenly wandered off stage, without saying anything, “to somewhat stunned silence”. The 80-year-old did the same at the end of a recent MSNBC interview (above), standing up stiffly and shuffling away. Every time you see the president now, he looks, well, like a man in his eighties. “He’s slow, careful, stilted.” His speech is a little off; his eyes “barely visible in the ancient, botoxed, fillered face”. This isn’t Republican point-scoring: in the latest “brutal” polling, 49% of Democrats say Biden is too old for re-election, and two-thirds want someone else as the party’s nominee next year. It’s true that Donald Trump isn’t young himself, at 77. But he is still full of stamina and zeal. Compared to Biden, “he seems like raw energy”.

Imagine how much better the Democrats would do if Biden pulled out of the race. It would “shift the dynamic” in an instant: the Democratic candidate would represent the future, Trump “the polarised past”. The election would become all about Democratic campaigns and debates, not “the defensive torpor of a frail octogenarian”. Sure, there are no obvious candidates to replace Biden – “but that’s what primaries are for”. The appetite is there: Robert Kennedy Jr is polling around 10%, “despite being completely bonkers”. If the president does stand down, he could say: “I did my part. I saved us from Trump.” If he stays on and loses, his only legacy will be handing the country back to the “monster” he once defeated.