Opinion: Are Biden and Trump too old to be president? Readers have insightful answers

Then-President Trump and then-Democratic challenger Joe Biden debate in 2020.
(Associated Press)
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The incumbent president is 80, and the Republican leading the race to challenge him will serve in his 80s (and possibly as a convicted felon) if elected again. The broader discussion of advanced age before the next election may be loaded down by ageism, but the dialog among our letter writers has been enlightening.

Many of the readers responding to recent opinion pieces on President Biden’s age, including one by columnist Jonah Goldberg, say they base their opinions on their own experience as seniors. Though many readers bristle at the suggestion that advanced years are a factor in determining overall fitness for the job, others acknowledge the physical and mental toll that aging takes.

At a time when every imperfect move by a candidate is fodder for attack — a stumble here, a few awkward steps there — it’s refreshing to see people confront a sensitive topic with frankness and keen insight.



To the editor: Anyone, regardless of age, can take a bad fall, sustain a traumatic brain injury and perhaps even die.

In 2020, twice as many people in the U.S. under 65 went to the emergency room due to falls than people over 65. In recent years, many younger people have died suddenly from silent killers like blood clots or undiagnosed cardiac issues. Even with a younger person, the risk a candidate will be incapacitated or die is not zero.

Trump is only three years younger than Biden. He rarely exercises and regularly eats fast food. He is at least at the same risk as Biden of being incapacitated.

Jonah Goldberg suggests Biden’s schedule means he has lost a step. More likely, Biden’s years of experience in government make him very efficient. But if we’re going to talk about lack of capacity, perhaps that explains Trump’s even more deranged ranting of late.

June Ailin Sewell, Marina del Rey


To the editor: Those of us in our 80s and above, and I’m one, are like people standing on a mountaintop in a lightning storm. Cancer strikes here, heart failure there, and stroke over yonder.


And then there are issues that may not be immediately fatal but absorb time, energy and attention. At 82, my father, a judge for 32 years, began nodding off during court sessions.

People do decline at different rates, but the odds are poor for an individual in his 80s, as both Biden and former President Trump will be before 2029. As a nation, our best bet is to turn to younger candidates.

Ann Boehmer, Los Angeles


To the editor: I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I agree with Goldberg.

I consider myself a staunch Democrat, and at 71 I cannot tolerate ageism, but we are dealing with an incredibly important election. Biden has done a really good job, but the polls don’t show it, and it’s because of his age.

I can’t believe the Democrats haven’t come up with a Plan B. I spend a lot of time being very frustrated and furious with Democrats. I cringe when I see Biden climbing upstairs and even walking at times.

Haven’t the Democrats learned anything about the egos of elderly politicians from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death less than two months before the 2020 election? I want to slap the Democrats out of their stupor.


If Trump comes anywhere near the presidency again, we are doomed. The stakes are way too high.

Denise McCanles, West Hollywood


To the editor: Should age be a factor into deciding whether to vote for Biden or Trump? Perhaps, but only if voters focus on two compelling facts that conservative pundits ignore.

First, Trump is just 43 months younger that Biden. Thus, if he were to win election and serve a full term, he himself would become the oldest person ever to serve as president.

Second, from all reliable indicators, Biden maintains himself in much better health than Trump. Biden, at 72 inches and 178 pounds, has a body mass index of about 24, which is deemed healthy. Trump evidently strives to conceal his precise weight.

Absent a full, impartial professional evaluation of each candidate’s physical health, their minimal age difference should not concern voters.


Glenda Martel, Los Angeles


To the editor: Speculation that Biden might be too old to be president is not only unwarranted but ignores his experience as a politician and, perhaps more importantly, a human being.

Biden is not an air traffic controller. He is not defusing bombs. If he trips on a word from time to time, I couldn’t care less. There’s an excellent chance such verbal miscues are from whatever lingering effects he might have from his childhood stuttering.

There is not a single decision he must make with point-guard quickness, and he daily seeks the counsel of agile and informed advisors.

As to why cynics dwell on Biden’s age, try “they have nothing else.”

William P. Bekkala, West Hollywood