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Opinion | Biden and Trump debate exposes grim reality of aging and leadership in America

Behind closed doors, Democrats and Republicans will admit that their guy is not up for the job.

Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden debate at CNN's Atlanta studios on June 27, 2024. Will Lanzoni/CNN
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What viewers saw during the 90-minute debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump on Thursday was a full display of the human aging process. It was ugly, chaotic, and humiliating.

One man was doddering, confused, and weak, while the other was deceitful, blustering, and delusional.

No doubt Trump looked to be the stronger man on television, but if you read the transcript of the debate, a different picture emerges. Fact-check the statements from each man, and the stark contrast between realities becomes clear.

The hard truth is neither of these men should be running to lead the greatest nation on earth. Both are far past their prime, and anyone with a thinking brain knows it.

While the Democratic Party has worked tirelessly to hide the reality of Biden’s age from the American public, the Republican Party has cowardly capitulated to Trump’s unbridled fantasy that he is lucid enough to lead the free world.

If either man were your aging father or grandfather, you wouldn’t give them car keys or the PIN number to their bank account. As Southerners, we would pamper them and tell them they are doing great, but we wouldn’t let them watch the kids or give them matches.

If we are lucky, old age comes for us all. It is a sad fact of life that none of us remain healthy, strong, and competent forever. Biden’s performance in Atlanta has brought that fact to the forefront of the nation’s conscience, but so did Trump’s.

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Behind closed doors, Democrats and Republicans will admit that their guy is not up for the job.

Biden is the Democratic standard-bearer because the Democratic Party wants to appear as the stable, responsible party of “adults.” Republicans accept Trump because they fear the wrath of Trump and his base. Both parties lack the courage to put the country first and hope against hope that the fickle finger of fate might save us from disaster. As my old grandpa would say when he wasn’t raging at clouds and stumbling on his words, “Crap in one hand and wish in the other and see which one gets full first.”

Now, as a columnist, I am supposed to propose an answer or some bromide, but the reality is all I can do is pray and hope—the thing most of us do when we understand just how frail and uncertain life really is.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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