by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It was a scary moment when President Biden tripped after handing out diplomas at the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement ceremony and struggled to get up without assistance. Fortunately, by all indications, Biden was fine afterward and did not suffer any serious injuries. But the incident should renew concerns about his advanced age as he seeks reelection.
It is fair to point out that Biden didn’t collapse because of deteriorating health, but because he tripped over a sandbag that had been left onstage. In theory, it was the type of fall that could have happened to anybody. But, as commentator Guy Benson noted on Fox, “Not everybody is president, and not everybody is 80.” As anybody who is older or has an elderly relative can testify to, even a minor fall at that age carries a significant long-term risk. And health risks can have significant consequences when the person in question has a job as demanding as the presidency. Biden was lucky this time, as he has been with a few prior stumbles, but it may not always be the case.
Biden was already the oldest person to serve in office when he began his presidency, and he’s launching a reelection bid in which he will turn 82 shortly after Election Day 2024. Were he to serve out a full second term, he would be 86 during his final months in office. From an actuarial perspective, the life expectancy of somebody who has reached Biden’s age is 89 years old, meaning that the odds are in favor of his surviving a second term. However, the issue of concern is not merely one of whether he can literally make it past the finish line. Winston Churchill lived to be 90, but a severe stroke at 79 while he was prime minister left the British government effectively without a leader for months. Ronald Reagan lived to be 93 but began suffering the visible effects of Alzheimer’s in his early 80s.