WILL JOE BIDEN'S BIG ANNOUNCEMENT BE THE SPEECH OF MY DREAMS?
PRESIDENT JO BIDEN PHOTO CREDIT: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license
JOE BIDEN'S BIG ANNOUNCEMENT about his future - and ours - is supposed to be Tuesday. Because I’m a big fan of the president, here’s what I’m looking for: Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. will do something extraordinarily presidential: he’ll say that he’s not going to run for a second term. “I’m too old,” Biden will tell the country. “Right now, I’m doing great,” the president will say. “But, folks, let’s face facts. I’m 80. And just like my dad used to say: ‘Joey ….’ “Actually, I don’t think either my Dad or my Mom had much to say about what happens when you get really old.” I'm guessing that Biden didn’t get much guidance because getting old is the last thing anyone wants to think about, much less talk about or do anything about. Getting old is a wretched subject, and so is its nasty corollary, death. People put off writing their wills, saving for retirement or writing down what the want, or don't want done, to them if they get desperately sick. It makes sense. The purpose of life is life. The whole idea, Job One, is to stay alive. And for those of us lucky enough to have had terrific and long lives, living as we've known it is not about giving up. Since I’m Biden’s age , this is one subject on which I actually know what I’m talking about. Now, let's see ... where we? Oh, yes, Joe Biden's big video.
FOR STARTERS, when you're 80 and relatively healthy, you don’t think you really are 80. Your brain thinks you can still do all of the things that you used to do. You can move furniture. Stay up late. Go for a run. Dash up and down the stairs. Get out of bed early. Pay attention. Drive eight hours without a break. Twirl. Skip. Hop. Remember things - don’t ask what things - just things. And you realize how much you love all that you do. Why would you want to give up driving? Holding your great granddaughter? Why stop working, running, walking, kayaking across the bay, baking carbohydrate-rich desserts, sawing down a 50-year-old tree, sitting in the living room with your wife watching bottom-ranked Southampton hold top-ranked Arsenal to a 3-3 tie? Now, imagine that you are Joe Biden, and you are President of the United States, the commander-in-chief, the Boss. You live rent free in a relatively big mansion that comes with a huge workforce that’s really good at what they do: all the vacuuming, cooking, mowing the grass, driving the car, parking the car, getting people on the phone for you, playing music just because you walk into a room, flying you around in one of the world’s biggest, best airplanes. And all you have to do for that is practically nothing.
WELL, NOT NOTHING. Just on your say so, you decide whether people can have enough to eat, have a home, breathe fresh air, pay for college, walk into a doctor’s office. And you have at least some say on whether the oceans rise or fall, and whether the planet does its Biblical fire and brimstone thing. And there’s more; If you can remember the “codes,” you can blow another country to smithereens. You decide whether one country can fight off the invaders, and another can't. You decide who crosses the border, whether some sacred mountain should be a park and whether the Department of Justice lives up to its name. You’d have to be crazy to give all that up - or a patriot .
PLUS, IF YOU ARE JOE BIDEN, you have a burden that no other one-term president in history has had to consider: Donald John Trump. Even though he is a treasonous, seditious psychopath, a cheat, a bully, a pants-on-fire liar, a racist, an accused rapist and a misogynist – Donald Trump is, at this moment the likely Republican candidate in 2024, which makes it conceivable, even though it’s absolutely inconceivable , that he could be the next president of the United States. He did it once and could again. So, the logical thing that the 80-year-old brain wants to do – and it’s not crazy, far-fetched or selfish – is to say on Tuesday: "My Fellow Americans, the future of the United States of America rests on my shoulders. These shoulders, Mr. and Mrs. America, may be weak and feeble – and they are: the joints may need to go to the machine shop every so often; there's a little sag I wish wasn't there. But the sad fact is that my shoulders are the only shoulders available."
BUT IN MY DREAM, Biden says this: “Folks, let’s be honest: the idea that I, Joe Biden, and only I, Joe Biden, can save the country, that’s a bunch of malarkey. "If the future of the greatest democracy in the history depends on one 80-year-old man who needs to speak to you via a video, so he can get through his speech without his flunkies having to spend the next 24 hours cleaning up after him, clarifying, explaining, denying he said what he actually said, then we don’t have much of a a democracy. “I know I beat Donald Trump the last time,” Biden could say. “But that was the last time. Maybe I could do it again; maybe I couldn’t. I’m not doing great in the opinion polls. Beats me why not. I RESCUED the freaking Soul of America, and I’ve done a knockout job putting the country back on its feet, getting the government functioning on some sort of sane, normal level, and I've been doing amazing things, like reshaping the entire automobile industry so that sometime, a lot of us could be driving electric cars. “And let’s say that I do win. I’ll be second guessed every minute of every day for the next four years, at the end of which, God willing, I'll be 86 years old. Every word I say, every move I make, every breath I take will be viewed by just one standard: Is Joey too old? If I garble my lines, dribble my oatmeal, stumble getting on or off Air Force One, if I have one Bad Day – And isn’t it the God-given right of every American to have at least one Bad Day? – will you be asking, just like my Dad used to put it: ‘Joey, are you getting soft upstairs?’ “ “No thanks. I’m not going to put you, the country, through that. Come noon, Jan. 20, 2025, I’m outta here. And if I can pass my diver’s license in the state of Delaware, there’s a '67 Corvette Stingray waiting for me in a garage, buried under some boxes marked Top Secret.”
"LISTEN, FOLKS, I love being president. I think – I know – that I’ve done a great job. But I don’t want the country to be at risk because I refuse, just like lots of my fellow Americans, to face facts. And one of those facts is, as my dad used to say: ‘Joey, none of us gets out of here alive.” In the video, and spelled out in my dreams in a lengthy, historic essay that takes up both pages of the New York Times editorial section, Biden explains why a second term would be too risky and just plain wrong for democracy. “Let me be straight with you – and don’t misinterpret my use of that word, because I believe in gay rights; one of my top cabinet secretaries happens to be what my Dad used call – well, skip that – and he would make a crackerjack candidate to say nothing of a president – do you want someone running the country who’s just been rushed to Walter Reed Hospital for who knows what? "Do you want somebody as president whom you suspect should be tested for dementia; who’s just tripped on the Oval Office rug; or who one day when the sun is shining, the grass is green, Southwest's jets are on time and everything seems to be hunky-dory, simply drops dead?” “Then fine. Take your chances; spin the wheel; flip a coin. Lots of people do just perfectly well in their 80s. Not everyone falls at a hotel like Mitch McConnell,81, and disappears from the U.S. Senate for weeks; or are like Dianne Feinstein, 89, who gets shingles and disappears from the Senate Judiciary Committee for god knows how long. "But if you care about your country, why take extra and unnecessary chances? So, I’ll be the best president I can be for the next one-and-a-half years – I think that’s how long I’ve got (I should have had somebody look that up.) “The rest is up to you. Pick the best man or woman you can find – he or she MUST be a Democrat, because the Republicans are deranged - no exaggeration. And let’s say the GOP candidate is one Donald John Trump, because if I could beat him, and I did, any decent Democrat can do the same. “I hope.”
I'VE BEEN a reporter and writer for 58 years, long enough to have learned that journalists don't know very much, although I've met some smart ones. Mainly, what reporters know comes from asking other people questions and fretting about the answers. This blog is a successor to one inspired by our dog, Phoebe, who was smart, sweet and the antithesis of Donald Trump. She died Feb. 3, and I don't see getting over that very soon. Occasionally, I may try to reach her via cell phone.