by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Sometimes a small thing is fraught with meaning — and with peril.
So it was with Joe Biden’s stumble, or near-stumble, depending on how you want to characterize it, at the G7 summit in Japan.
He lost his balance going down steps at the Itsukushima Shrine on Friday to greet Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida, and managed to regain it with some quick steps and focus. He stuck the landing and could shake the prime minister’s hand like nothing happened.
But how close was he and the United States to major international embarrassment and a seismic political event? A couple of inches either way? It’s impossible to say, but maybe.
If Biden were to do a face-plant, even down a few steps, it could be very ugly. Fairly or not, it’d be a symbol of U.S. decrepitude. It’s one thing to have a senior senator from California who obviously should have hung it up several years ago; it’s another to have a president of the United States lacking the agility to get around easily anymore.
He also could get badly hurt. Mitch McConnell fell a couple of months ago and had to be hospitalized. He suffered a concussion and broken rib. Again, it’d be another order of magnitude for this to happen to a president of the United States, especially on video.
Now, I don’t say this with any pleasure. As anyone who has dealt with a parent in decline knows, aging and its attendant loss of capacity are frustrating, heart-breaking, and humiliating.
In addition, of course, it only gets worse. No matter how rocky Biden was on those steps the other day, he’s presumably only going to be shakier in a couple of months, let alone a couple of years.
In their apparent willingness to acquiesce to another Biden nomination, Democrats are looking away from the enormous risk this represents to their political prospects and Biden’s.