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Sunday, March 31, 2024

AOC Delivers One Of The Greatest Speeches Of Her Career

Why Are Older Americans Drinking So Much?

Why Are Older Americans Drinking So Much?

“The pandemic played a role in increased consumption, but alcohol use among people 65 and older was climbing even before 2020.

Luisa Jung

The phone awakened Doug Nordman at 3 a.m. A surgeon was calling from a hospital in Grand Junction, Colo., where Mr. Nordman’s father had arrived at the emergency room, incoherent and in pain, and then lost consciousness.

At first, the staff had thought he was suffering a heart attack, but a CT scan found that part of his small intestine had been perforated. A surgical team repaired the hole, saving his life, but the surgeon had some questions.

“Was your father an alcoholic?” he asked. The doctors had found Dean Nordman malnourished, his peritoneal cavity “awash with alcohol.”

The younger Mr. Nordman, a military personal finance author living in Oahu, Hawaii, explained that his 77-year-old dad had long been a classic social drinker: a Scotch and water with his wife before dinner, which got topped off during dinner, then another after dinner, and perhaps a nightcap.

Having three to four drinks daily exceeds current dietary guidelines, which define moderate consumption as two drinks a day for men and one for women, or less. But “that was the normal drinking culture of the time,” said Doug Nordman, now 63.

At the time of his hospitalization, though, Dean Nordman, a retired electrical engineer, was widowed, living alone and developing symptoms of dementia. He got lost while driving, struggled with household chores and complained of a “slipping memory.”

He had waved off his two sons’ offers of help, saying he was fine. During that hospitalization, however, Doug Nordman found hardly any food in his father’s apartment. Worse, reviewing his father’s credit card statements, “I saw recurring charges from the Liquor Barn and realized he was drinking a pint of Scotch a day,” he said.

Public health officials are increasingly alarmed by older Americans’ drinking. The annual number of alcohol-related deaths from 2020 through 2021 exceeded 178,000, according to recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: more deaths than from all drug overdoses combined.

An analysis by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that people over 65 accounted for 38 percent of that total. From 1999 to 2020, the 237 percent increase in alcohol-related deaths among those over age 55 was higher than for any age group except 25- to 34-year-olds.

Americans largely fail to recognize the hazards of alcohol, said George Koob, the director of the institute. “Alcohol is a social lubricant when used within the guidelines, but I don’t think they realize that as the dose increases it becomes a toxin,” he said. “And the older population is even less likely to recognize that.”

The growing number of older people accounts for much of the increase in deaths, Dr. Koob said. An aging population foreshadows a continuing surge that has health care providers and elder advocates worried, even if older people’s drinking behavior doesn’t change.

But it has been changing. The proportions of people over 65 who report using alcohol in the past year (about 56 percent) and the past month (about 43 percent) are lower than for all other groups of adults. But older drinkers are markedly more likely to do it frequently, on 20 or more days a month, than younger ones.

Moreover, a 2018 meta-analysis found that binge drinking (defined as four or more drinks on a single occasion for women, five or more for men) had climbed nearly 40 percent among older Americans over the past 10 to 15 years.

What’s going on here?

The pandemic has clearly played a role. The C.D.C. reported that deaths attributable directly to alcohol use, emergency room visits associated with alcohol, and alcohol sales per capita all rose from 2019 to 2020, as Covid arrived and restrictions took hold.

“A lot of stressors impacted us: the isolation, the worries about getting sick,” Dr. Koob said. “They point to people drinking more to cope with that stress.”

Researchers also cite a cohort effect. Compared to those before and after them, “the boomers are a substance-using generation,” said Keith Humphreys, a psychologist and addiction researcher at Stanford. And they’re not abandoning their youthful behavior, he said.

Studies show a narrowing gender divide, too. “Women have been the drivers of change in this age group,” Dr. Humphreys said.

From 1997 to 2014, drinking rose an average of 0.7 percent a year for men over 60, while their binge drinking remained stable. Among older women, drinking climbed by 1.6 percent annually, with binge drinking up 3.7 percent.

“Contrary to stereotypes, upper-middle-class, educated people have higher rates of drinking,” Dr. Humphreys explained. In recent decades, as women grew more educated, they entered workplaces where drinking was normative; they also had more disposable income. “The women retiring now are more likely to drink than their mothers and grandmothers,” he said.

Yet alcohol use packs a greater wallop for older people, especially for women, who become intoxicated more quickly than men because they’re smaller and have fewer of the gut enzymes that metabolize alcohol.

Seniors may argue that they are merely drinking the way they always have, but “equivalent amounts of alcohol have much more disastrous consequences for older adults,” whose bodies cannot process it as quickly, said Dr. David Oslin, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia.

“It causes slower thinking, slower reaction time and less cognitive capacity when you’re older,” he said, ticking off the risks.

Long associated with liver diseases, alcohol also “exacerbates cardiovascular disease, renal disease and, if you’ve been drinking for many years, there’s an increase in certain kinds of cancers,” he said. Drinking contributes to falls, a major cause of injury as people age, and disrupts sleep.

Older adults also take a lot of prescription drugs, and alcohol interacts with a long list of them. These interactions can be particularly common with pain medications and sleep aids like benzodiazepines, sometimes causing over-sedation. In other cases, alcohol can reduce a drug’s effectiveness.

Dr. Oslin cautions that, while many prescription bottles carry labels that warn against using those drugs with alcohol, patients may shrug that off, explaining that they take their pills in the morning and don’t drink until evening.

“Those medications are in your system all day long, so when you drink, there’s still that interaction,” he tells them.

One proposal for combating alcohol misuse among older people is to raise the federal tax on alcohol, for the first time in decades. “Alcohol consumption is price-sensitive, and it’s pretty cheap right now relative to income,” Dr. Humphreys said.

Resisting industry lobbying and making alcohol more expensive, the way higher taxes have made cigarettes more expensive, could reduce use.

So could eliminating barriers to treatment. Treatments for excessive alcohol use, including psychotherapy and medications, are no less effective for older patients, Dr. Oslin said. In fact, “age is actually the best predictor of a positive response,” he said, adding that “treatment doesn’t necessarily mean you have to become abstinent. We work with people to moderate their drinking.”

But the 2008 federal law requiring health insurers to provide parity — meaning the same coverage for mental health, including substance use disorders, as for other medical conditions — doesn’t apply to Medicare. Several policy and advocacy groups are working to eliminate such disparities.

Dean Nordman never sought treatment for his drinking, but after his emergency surgery, his sons moved him into a nursing home, where antidepressants and a lack of access to alcohol improved his mood and his sociability. He died in the facility’s memory care unit in 2017.

Doug, whom his father had introduced to beer at 13, had been a heavy drinker himself, he said, “to the point of blackout” as a college student, and a social drinker thereafter.

But as he watched his father decline, “I realized this was ridiculous,” he recalled. Alcohol can exacerbate the progression of cognitive decline, and he had a family history.

He has remained sober since that pre-dawn phone call 13 years ago.“

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Opinion | Donald Trump, Blasphemous Bible Thumper - The New York Times

Donald Trump, Blasphemous Bible Thumper

A photo collage depicting Donald Trump holding open a briefcase, inside which is a single Bible.
Illustration by Sam Whitney/The New York Times

"On this holy weekend, one man is taking the Resurrection personally.

Donald Trump is presenting himself as the Man on the Cross, tortured for our sins. “I consider it a great badge of courage,” he tells crowds. “I am being indicted for you.” Instead of Christ-like redemption, he promises Lucifer-like retribution if resurrected.

In January, he put up a video on Truth Social about how he is a messenger from God, “a shepherd to mankind.”

Trump is, as the nuns who taught me used to say, “a bold, brazen piece.” He is a miserable human who cheated on his wives, cheats at golf, cheats at politics, incites violence, targets judges and their families and looked on, pleased, as thugs threatened to hang his actually pious vice president.

Yet, more and more, Trump is wallowing in his Messiah complex.

Two-Corinthians Trump wouldn’t know the difference between Old and New Testaments. So he may not realize that, rather than a sacrificial lamb, he is the Golden Calf, the false god worshiped by Israelites when Moses went up to Mount Sinai to get the Ten Commandments.

Just as the Israelites melted their ornaments and jewelry to make the calf, Trump is trading tacky products for gilt to pay gazillions in obligations. After his $399 golden “Never Surrender High-Top Sneaker,” Trump is selling a $99 “Victory” cologne for “movers, shakers and history makers” with “a crisp opening of citrus blends into a cedar heart, underpinned by a rich base of leather and amber, crafting a commanding presence.” A gold bust of Trump tops the bottle. (“Victory” perfume for women comes in a Miss Universe-shape bottle.)

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Weaponizing his martyrdom, Trump is selling $59.99 “God Bless the USA” Bibles adorned with a flag and the chorus of Lee Greenwood’s song handwritten by the singer, plus the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Pledge of Allegiance.

“Happy Holy Week!” he wrote on Truth Social. “Let’s Make America Pray Again. As we lead into Good Friday and Easter, I encourage you to get a copy of the God Bless The USA Bible.”

David Axelrod says that, even as a secular Jew, he’s offended: “This is a guy who has violated 11 of the Ten Commandments.”

Trump posted a promotional video claiming “Christians are under siege” and vowing to “protect content that is pro-God.” He held up the Bible — recalling the appalling moment in 2020 when Ivanka handed him a Bible from her designer bag and he clutched it in front of St. John’s Church, opposite the White House, moments after the police tear-gassed protesters and journalists in adjacent Lafayette Square at a demonstration about George Floyd’s murder.

“All Americans need a Bible in their home, and I have many,” Trump barked. “It’s my favorite book.” Maybe the Bible has replaced that Hitler book Trump’s ex-wife said he kept by his bed. But it’s all a scam. Running for president is about enriching himself, just as when he peddled NFTs, steaks, ties, suits, bath towels, vodka, water, office chairs, Trump University and mug-shot mugs. He even sold pieces of the suit he was wearing when he took the mug shot.

“I want to have a lot of people have it,” Trump said of his Bible. “You have to have it for your heart, for your soul.”

Just what the world needs: a soul cleanse with a grifter Bible, where the profits could well be going to pay legal costs in trials about breaking commandments — bearing false witness to try to steal democracy, coveting a porn star, then paying the star hush money to keep quiet about the sex.

What could be more Elmer Gantry than that? As Sinclair Lewis wrote about his corrupt, power-hungry, narcissistic, womanizing preacher, “He had, in fact, got everything from the church and Sunday school, except, perhaps, any longing whatever for decency and kindness and reason.”

Religious snake-oil salesmen have a storied history in American literature and films, from Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood” to Peter Bogdanovich’s beloved movie “Paper Moon,” about a conniving Bible salesman and his small helper. But it’s shocking when the charlatan might be in the Oval.

In her 2016 book, “The Confidence Game,” Maria Konnikova explained that we’re easy prey for faux Nigerian princes because of all the chaos in our world. “The whirlwind advance of technology heralds a new golden age of the grift,” she wrote. “Cons thrive in times of transition and fast change.”

If there is one thing Trump knows how to do, it’s exploit chaos he creates.

There has to be a yearning in the populace that the con man can channel; and, at a time when religion and patriotism are waning, people are searching for more. Unfortunately, these days that search often takes the form of conspiracy theories.

As Donie O’Sullivan reported for CNN, no sooner had the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed in Baltimore than a bunch of crazy conspiracy tales blossomed about terrorism, D.E.I., Obama, Israel and Ukraine.

Declining faith in religion and rising faith in conspiracies create fertile ground for a faker like Trump. If the profane pol is re-elected, we’ll all reap the whirlwind.

Maureen Dowd is an Opinion columnist for The Times. She won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary. @MaureenDowd  Facebook"

Opinion | Donald Trump, Blasphemous Bible Thumper - The New York Times

Trump Shares Video Featuring Image of a Hog-Tied Biden - The New York Times

Trump Shares Video Featuring Image of a Hog-Tied Biden

"The social media post reflects the increasingly violent and personal attacks that Donald J. Trump has employed during the presidential campaign.

Donald Trump stands outside in front of a line of police officers. A man to his left holds an umbrella over his head.
Former President Donald J. Trump attended the wake of a slain New York City police officer in Massapequa Park, N.Y., on Thursday.Dave Sanders for The New York Times

Sign up for the On Politics newsletter.  Your guide to the 2024 elections.

Former President Donald J. Trump posted a video on Friday to his social media website that features an image of President Biden with his hands and feet tied together.

Mr. Trump posted the video to Truth Social early Friday afternoon with a line that said it was filmed on Long Island on Thursday, when Mr. Trump attended the wake of a slain New York City police officer in Massapequa Park, N.Y. The video shows two moving trucks decorated with flags and decals supporting Mr. Trump. The tailgate of the second vehicle features the image of Mr. Biden.

Macabre imagery targeting Mr. Trump’s perceived enemies frequently circulates online among right-wing provocateurs and pro-Trump groups, and in some cases has been featured at conservative conferences. Photos of trucks featuring similar images of Mr. Biden tied up have been shared across social media, and online vendors sell vehicle stickers with the image.

Mr. Trump’s promotion of the video featuring the image reflects the increasingly caustic and personal attacks that he has directed against Mr. Biden — for example, in a speech this month he said that “everything Joe Biden touches turns to” filth, though he used an expletive— and it extends a record in which the former president features violent imagery on his social media accounts.

A representative of the Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Steven Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said “that picture was on the back of a pickup truck that was traveling down the highway,” adding that “Democrats and crazed lunatics have not only called for despicable violence against President Trump and his family, they are actually weaponizing the justice system against him.”

The video was still on Mr. Trump’s Truth Social page as of late Friday evening.

The Trump campaign has repeatedly cited Democratic statements from years past to defend Mr. Trump’s rhetoric. Mr. Cheung on Friday pointed to a statement by Mr. Biden in 2018 in which he said, referring to Mr. Trump, “If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.” Mr. Biden was responding to comments that Mr. Trump had made about women on a tape linked to the show “Access Hollywood.”

Mr. Trump has previously posted doctored photos and videos depicting him physically attacking political opponents, focusing particularly on Mr. Biden in the last year. The former president has, for example, repeatedly shared videos depicting him hitting Mr. Biden with golf balls. Mr. Trump also posted a photo last year of him holding a baseball bat next to Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, who is prosecuting Mr. Trump in connection to a hush money payment made to a porn star during the 2016 campaign.

Mr. Trump has also used increasingly authoritarian language on the campaign trail, repeatedly saying that migrants are “poisoning the blood of our country” and describing his political opponents in a Veterans Day speech last year as “vermin” who needed to be “rooted out.”

This month, Mr. Trump said that some migrants were “not people” and, amid a discussion of the auto industry, that the country would face a “blood bath” if he lost the election. A few days later, he attacked Jewish Democrats in a radio interview, saying that Jews who vote for Democrats hate their religion and Israel.

Our Coverage of the 2024 Elections

Trump Shares Video Featuring Image of a Hog-Tied Biden - The New York Times

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Trump Thinks He Can THREATEN US and I’m SICK OF IT

Trump’s Low-Quality USA Bibles | Ronna McDaniel Is Terrible | RNC’s Big Lie Litmus Test

Panicked Trump Stoops to Selling Bibles, Calls Biden “Buden,” Hit with Gag Order: A Closer Look

‘You can see it as a revenge fantasy’: The new book arguing that enslaved people co-authored the Bible | Books | The Guardian

‘You can see it as a revenge fantasy’: The new book arguing that enslaved people co-authored the Bible

"God’s Ghostwriters by Candida Moss aims to shine a light on the contributions to Christianity by imprisoned workers

‘I, Tertius, wrote this letter’ … The Codex Sassoon, the oldest, most complete, extant Hebrew Bible
‘I, Tertius, wrote this letter’ … The Codex Sassoon, the oldest, most complete, extant Hebrew Bible.Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex/Shutterstock

Enslaved people wrote the Bible, carried the messages of the apostles and spread the word of Jesus around the Roman empire, according to a shocking new book by the theology professor Candida Moss. God’s Ghostwriters: Enslaved Christians and the Making of the Bible argues that apostles and early Christians used enslaved scribes, secretaries and messengers to write the New Testament and shape the very foundations of Christianity.

“The overwhelming literary and archeological evidence shows that this kind of work was done by enslaved or formerly enslaved people,” says Moss, the Edward Cadbury professor of theology at the University of Birmingham. Scholars think only about 5-10% of Romans were literate: the very wealthy – and the people they enslaved.

“One reason that slaves were educated to do this work is because – especially when it comes to something like copying out a manuscript by hand – it hurts. So wealthy people who were educated didn’t want to do it”, Moss says. “And, particularly as their vision got worse as they got older, they needed enslaved people to do this work for them, because they couldn’t do it themselves.”

She says that even “freedmen” – formerly enslaved people – who undertook these tasks were often not what we would now consider to be “free”. While allowed to earn money for themselves, they were usually obliged to give a portion of their wages to their enslavers, live in their households and acquiesce to sexual favours.

The first followers of Jesus and the early “authors” of the Bible were not well educated and so could not write themselves. “So, like other groups, they pooled their resources and rented scribes and copyists to write the stories and letters that we know as the New Testament”, Moss says. Other early Christian writers, including the author of the Gospel of John and Ignatius of Antioch, were elderly men who would have struggled to read and write without glasses.

Among the apostles, only Paul was literate. “And he tells us he used other people to read and write”, whose names suggest they were enslaved, says Moss. One example is Epaphroditus, letter carrier of Philippians who also supported Paul while he was imprisoned. “[The name] Epaphroditus was especially common among enslaved and freedmen because it is related to the goddess Aphrodite and means ‘charming’ or ‘attractive’”, Moss says.

It is a male name which carried sexual overtones at a time when young boys were sexually exploited. “To call your child Epaphroditus if your child was not enslaved would be like calling an English child Jean-Luc Baptiste and expecting people to think the child wasn’t French,” says Moss.

Tertius, another common name for an enslaved person, openly declares he wrote a letter to the Romans for Paul. “Tertius writes: ‘I, Tertius, wrote this letter’”, Moss says. “The letter is arguably the most important text in the New Testament. It is the foundation for Protestantism, and Paul is obviously involved. But he wrote it with Tertius. So the question is: why aren’t we remembering Tertius? And what has Tertius contributed to this letter?”

Moss wants to shine a spotlight on the contributions she thinks Tertius, Epaphroditus and other enslaved workers made to the Bible and the rise of Christianity. “The writing, the editing, the copying, the movement of those early Christian texts – what you might call ‘missionary activity’ – all of that’s being done by enslaved workers.”

The first interpreters of Christian scripture were the couriers who carried and performed the texts of the New Testament around the Mediterranean – and they were enslaved, says Moss. “When those texts are read aloud to largely illiterate audiences of Christians and potential Christian converts, it’s enslaved people doing that important work”, she says. The way that these couriers interpreted and spoke the words they were reading mattered, Moss believes, as they were “the faces of the gospel to those audiences”.

Yet Moss thinks ancient people saw enslaved workers as “mouthpieces” or “mindless vessels” who had no authorial impact on the texts they were writing and interpreting for their enslavers. “Christians bought in to the idea that enslaved people just did the will of their ‘masters’”, she says.

By contrast, Moss argues that enslaved people are likely to have contributed to the parts of the Bible which suggest that enslavers will be brutally punished in hell: “I think that’s enslaved people putting that into the text,” she says. “You can see it as an enslaved revenge fantasy. It’s not within the power of the enslaved people to change the entire social order, but you can see resistance here, the idea that in the future people will be rewarded, because they were oppressed.”

Some reviewers have criticised Moss’s book for using conjecture and speculating on the past, including Daniel Rey, who said in his Spectator review, that it takes an “unnecessary hectoring” tone, although he praised the book overall as “a massive achievement”.

Any reconstruction of the writing process of an ancient text is necessarily going to be speculative, and Moss admits she does not steer away from anachronism. At the beginning of God’s Ghostwriters, she explains that “disinterested history is sometimes also morally negligent”. But, while there are certainly elements of modern interpretation to her reasoning, the author is certain that her “basic argument that enslaved people contributed to and co-authored and made the Christian Bible is not speculation. Those facts aren’t up for debate.”

‘You can see it as a revenge fantasy’: The new book arguing that enslaved people co-authored the Bible | Books | The Guardian

South Carolina to use congressional map deemed unconstitutional - The Washington Post

South Carolina to use congressional map deemed unconstitutional

"The Supreme Court heard arguments on the redistricting case in October but has yet to rule, essentially running out the clock for this year’s election

South Carolina stat Sen. Nikki Setzler (D) looks at a map of suggested U.S. House districts drawn with 2020 U.S. census data on Jan. 20, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. (Jeffrey Collins/AP)

A federal court ruled Thursday that time had run out to draw a new congressional district in South Carolina and said the state could use its existing map this year even though it had earlier determined that map was unconstitutional.

The panel of three judges last year concluded that South Carolina’s Republican-led legislature “exiled” 30,000 Black voters from the district to make it safer for a White GOP incumbent, Rep. Nancy Mace.

South Carolina appealed, and both sides asked the Supreme Court to expedite the case to ensure a final ruling was in place well ahead of election season. The justices heard arguments in October but have yet to rule.

With no decision and the June 11 primary on the horizon, South Carolina sought permission to use the map this year even though it had been deemed unconstitutional. The panel of judges unanimously agreed Thursday to keep the map in place for this election.

It noted that courts typically don’t allow maps to be used once they have been found to be invalid. “But with the primary election procedures rapidly approaching, the appeal before the Supreme Court still pending, and no remedial plan in place, the ideal must bend to the practical,” the judges wrote.

Follow Election 2024

If the Supreme Court later upholds the lower court ruling, then new maps would have to be drawn for the 2026 election.

Last year the panel, which consists of two judges nominated by President Barack Obama and one by President Biden, found the map illegally split neighborhoods in the Charleston area to make Mace’s race easier. The new lines constituted a racial gerrymander that “exiled over 30,000 African American citizens from their previous district,” the panel found.

In arguments before the Supreme Court in October, attorneys for South Carolina argued that state lawmakers had not relied on race to draw maps in violation of the Constitution. Rather, they used political information to help them decide where to place the lines, they said.

During arguments, a majority of the Supreme Court appeared inclined to reinstate the lines the state had wanted. Five months later, the justices have yet to rule. Both sides had asked the justices to rule by January.

By hanging onto the case, the Supreme Court had effectively allowed the clock to run out for this year’s election.

Candidates must file paperwork to run by Monday and ballots must be sent to military and overseas voters by April 27 under federal law. That timeline led the panel of judges to let the state keep its congressional map for this year."

South Carolina to use congressional map deemed unconstitutional - The Washington Post

Opinion | The Overlooked Truths About Biden’s Age - The New York Times

The Overlooked Truths About Biden’s Age

An illustration showing two white pins, one that reads “Biden” and a smaller one that reads “et al.,” against a blue background.
Ben Wiseman

By Frank Bruni

"Mr. Bruni is a contributing Opinion writer who was on the staff of The Times for more than 25 years.

In terms of optics and in terms of energy, I wish President Biden were younger. There’s no point in pretending otherwise. And from the casual conversations all around me and the formal polling of voters, I know I’m in robust company. A great many Americans consider his age unideal, and that belief is why there’s no wishing away the focus on it. The swell of attention to it over the past few months is more beginning than end. There are tsunamis yet to come.

Even so, aspects of the subject actually get too little consideration, starting with this crushingly obvious and yet frequently overlooked fact: The presidency isn’t a solo mission. Not even close. It’s a team effort, and the administration that a president puts together matters much, much more than his brawn or his brio.

To listen to the fretting over how many hours a day Biden can vigorously work, how many speeches he can authoritatively deliver and how many miles he can comfortably travel is to get the sense that he’s independently on the hook for the nation’s welfare. That he’s more action figure than decision maker. That, um, he alone can fix it. That he shoulders all the responsibility.

But he’s not Atlas; he’s POTUS. And the president of the United States is only as good as the advisers around him, whose selection reflects presidential judgment, not stamina.

We acknowledge as much when we discuss how a president might fill or has filled his cabinet. We recognize that many vital decisions are made — and that most important policies are realized — outside of the Oval Office.

But that recognition weirdly dissipates when we start tallying Biden’s birthdays. We attach as much weight to digits as to discernment, or we imply that the former wipes out the latter. Yes, age can erode judgment — if a person’s cognitive health is in marked and clear decline. But Biden’s situation is more cloudy than clear, and nothing about it suggests to me that he’d treat governing as cavalierly as Donald Trump would (and did) or assemble a team as ragtag as Trump’s — or, for that matter, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s.

He wouldn’t elevate a conspiracy theorist like the quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was on a short list of potential running mates for Kennedy before, on Tuesday, Kennedy chose Nicole Shanahan, a philanthropist (and vaccine skeptic) with zero experience in public office. He wouldn’t invite anyone as unhinged and reprehensible as Rudy Giuliani, who led Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, into his inner circle.

Yes, Trump is about three and a half years younger and often peppier than Biden. Biden is about 300 times saner and always more principled than Trump. That’s the infinitely more important contrast between the two men, and we should never, not for a nanosecond, sweep it aside.

We should also call nonsense on many of the people who signal or say that Biden’s age is propelling them toward Trump. Obviously, that’s a dynamic for some of them, but it can’t be all that common because it defies common sense. Voters who’d be content to back a version of Biden with more spring in his step and less stammer in his voice have values, priorities and policy leanings that would probably render Trump an unconscionable choice. They’re not going to throw in with Trump because he throws himself around more forcefully.

Really, how many people say to themselves: Heck, Biden may be the guy with a proper respect for democracy, won’t blow air kisses at murderous tyrants and doesn’t sound like a fascist, but that Trump sure can shout louder, talk faster and clomp around more thuddingly! He’ll bring the vim to trashing democracy that Biden can’t muster for preserving it. I guess I’ll go with Trump!

No, many of these Trump supporters like what he’s selling — maybe the lower taxes for corporations and wealthy Americans, maybe the promised crackdown on immigration, maybe the nihilism, maybe just the vitriol — and have found a way to defend a vote for him (Biden’s decrepit!) without fully owning up to it.

In an age of rampant falsity, let’s be honest about that."

Opinion | The Overlooked Truths About Biden’s Age - The New York Times