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Newsletter: This is what’s more important than Joe Biden’s age

President Biden waves before departing Tel Aviv in 2022.
President Biden waves before departing Tel Aviv in 2022.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
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Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. Let’s look back at the week in Opinion.

In The Times’ opinion pages, the discussion about President Biden’s age has been respectful and, well, interesting. Jonah Goldberg warned Democrats about the political risk of renominating someone seen by voters as too old for the job. LZ Granderson took the opposite view, and our letter writers (many of them self-identified senior citizens) landed somewhere in between.

But the discussion of age and the rigors of the presidency has, for the most part, ignored or minimized the urgency of defeating the anti-democratic movement led by former President Trump. Biden may be in his ninth decade, but the president won’t fire 50,000 federal workers and replace them with political stooges. He won’t give Ukraine to Russia. He won’t usher in an era of American fascism. He won’t pardon insurrectionists or even himself. And if (God forbid) the president dies and Vice President Kamala Harris takes over, she won’t do any of these things either.

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In other words, Joe Biden is not Donald Trump or any of the eight Republican candidates who raised their hands on the debate stage when asked if they would support a criminally convicted GOP nominee. So vote for Joe Biden.

Of course, this doesn’t give the incumbent enough credit for his accomplishments. But set aside the fact that the feeble octogenarian has imbued the international order with stability even in the face of Russian aggression, or that he’s refocused American economic policy on ground-up prosperity without sounding like a xenophobic protectionist. If it weren’t for the cynicism of pollsters and pundits, and if Biden were 75 years old instead of 80, these accomplishments would surely drive coverage of the president’s reelection effort.

Biden’s most important qualities are what we expect from any democratic leader. He supports the peaceful transfer of power and the rule of law. You can’t say the same for Trump or plenty of the other Republican candidates. Vote accordingly.

Are Southern California mob robberies part of a retail crime wave? It’s complicated. “It is clear that [inventory loss from non-sales] is on the rise and is starting to have more of a material impact on business performance,” writes retail analyst Neil Saunders. “On the other hand, retailers have been known to make excuses for poor performance, and understanding the nuances of crime data and trends can be complicated.”

She’s heard a thousand Burning Man jokes. Here’s what she got out of this year’s epic mud event: Author Sarah Enni says this year’s rain-soaked mud fest in the Nevada desert reminded her that she goes to Burning Man not to relax, but to be tested.

Home insurers are trying to bully California politicians into a disastrous bailout. Over the last 25 years, insurance companies have collected more than $150 billion in premiums from California homeowners and made handsome profits. Now, warns Proposition 103 author Harvey Rosenfeld, they’re trying to persuade legislators to unwind state regulations that ensure price transparency and protect consumers from covering insurers’ unexpected losses.

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Think getting a raise from the boss is hard? Try asking for more say at work. “Those at the lower end of the pay distribution have made up a ton of ground since the COVID-19 pandemic,” writes Rick Wartzman. “But while the pay gap has narrowed, what scholars call the ‘voice gap’ doesn’t seem to have budged. New research reveals that a majority of workers, young and old, don’t believe they have the right amount of say when it comes to compensation and paths to promotion.”

Can the LGBTQ+ community fight hate with love? In an era of violent, unprovoked attacks on LGBTQ+ people, the urge to turn the other cheek can come across as reckless, even immoral. But the experience of victims who respond with compassion to those who express hatred shows the transformative power of resisting the impulse to fight violence with more violence, writes Jean Guerrero.

More from this week in opinion

From our columnists

From the Op-Ed desk

From the Editorial Board

Letters to the Editor

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