Joe Biden, the oldest individual ever to win the US presidency, will rejoice his 78th birthday on Friday.
If he have been to run and be reelected in 2024, he can be 86 on the finish of a second time period in 2029.
With two months to go earlier than he even will get the keys to the Oval Workplace, Washington insiders are already asking: will he be a one-term president?
All through his marketing campaign towards Donald Trump, Biden — a “lion of American historical past,” in line with his former boss, Barack Obama — has remained purposefully imprecise about his future plans.
When requested by ABC Information in August if the thought of serving for eight years was on his inside radar, Biden replied: “Completely.”
However earlier than that, in April, at a fundraising occasion, he advised donors that he noticed himself as a “transition candidate” — a phrase that raised eyebrows and fueled hypothesis.
Was he attempting to say he was the perfect positioned to close the e book on Trumpism, due to his many years of political expertise and his empathetic nature, however would then cross the torch to a brand new technology of Democrats in 2024?
It goes with out saying that most of the get together’s new, vibrant faces weren’t even alive when Biden was first elected to the US Senate in 1972.
Or was he merely speaking about transition in a broader sense, with out which means to supply any outlook on the longer term?
A couple of days after securing the presidency over Trump, Biden’s sister Valerie — who has performed a key position in his political profession however usually stays out of the general public eye — expressed confidence he would search reelection.
So, what did he imply by “transition candidate” then?
She advised “Axios on HBO” that he was “transitional in that he’s bringing in all these younger individuals and bringing (us) again once more (so) we’re not a divided nation.”
Above all, one factor is evident — Biden is attempting to take care of a most of political capital going ahead.
Nobody can run for the White Home and explicitly say it’s for one time period, in any case. That will weaken his place and open the door — too rapidly and too broadly — to an all-out succession battle throughout the get together.
– ‘Sense of legitimacy’ –
For presidential historian Julian Zelizer, a professor at Princeton College, there may be “no worth” in Biden making his plans clear too early.
“On this age of polarization, it’s good to use each little bit of muscle — together with the specter of reelection — to maneuver payments,” Zelizer advised AFP.
In American historical past, the variety of presidents who didn’t run for a second time period is comparatively low.
James Polk, who served from 1845 to 1849, campaigned on the truth that he wouldn’t run once more — and he saved his promise. However politics within the mid-19th century little resemble the circus in present-day Washington.
The one instance in fashionable US historical past is Lyndon B. Johnson, who was catapulted into the White Home in 1963 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Johnson simply received his personal time period within the 1964 election towards Republican Barry Goldwater, however in March 1968, with America weary of the Vietnam Battle and progressive Democrats difficult him, he mentioned he wouldn’t run once more.
For a lot of observers, Johnson bowed out as a result of he was going through sure defeat.
However his resolution to depart the White Home after six years in energy was however a “Pearl Harbor in politics,” within the phrases of a Democratic lawmaker from his native Texas.
Past a thirst for the ability and status of the workplace, why are American leaders so hellbent on staying for eight years?
“The second time period provides a president the sense of legitimacy,” Zelizer mentioned. “It’s additionally a time to pursue troublesome coverage initiatives with out electoral pressures.”
‘God darn, you’re previous’
Biden in fact is aware of he’s in a difficult spot.
Within the fall of 2018, earlier than he had even introduced his third presidential run, he acknowledged to an viewers at a Michigan talking engagement that his age was a “completely legit factor to boost.”
“I believe it’s completely applicable for individuals to take a look at me and say if I have been to run for workplace once more, ‘Properly, God darn, you’re previous’,” he mentioned.
“Properly, chronologically, I’m previous,” he added, making it clear he believed that age was only a quantity and he’s nonetheless stuffed with power and intellectually fast.
One factor is evident: when he takes workplace on January 20, Biden’s Republican rivals — and the pretenders to the throne in his personal Democratic Occasion — shall be listening fastidiously to what he says on the subject.
They’ll be ready for the tiniest trace of a potential retirement from the person who, in November 2022, will turn into the primary sitting president in his 80s in American historical past.