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If you are not winning against an old man, perhaps the problem is not the old man.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is running for president. Polls show him leading the large Democratic field. This worries some Democrats. They fret about his age and mental acuity. They should worry more about how none of the alternatives do better against him. Granted, this does not prove Biden is a good candidate. It probably means, though, his rivals are not great ones. We will see if any of them finds a stride. So far, the one showing an ability to keep up a quickened pace is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

There is an interesting practical aspect to Biden's advanced age. He would almost certainly serve only one term if elected. He would pass 80 during that first term.

Suppose I normally vote GOP. Suppose I have grown tired of President Donald Trump. The Democratic nominee will need voters like me. I could vote for a one-term guy. Biden's age would be a feature, not a bug.

Now suppose I normally vote Democratic. Of course I would prefer a candidate with two-term potential. You cannot get a second term without getting the first one, though. I would fret about candidates who have trouble catching up on the one-term guy.

Now suppose the worst. Suppose Biden's mind is going. Biden does have trouble keeping his facts straight. Trump has trouble with facts, period. Biden can be reminded. Trump fires people who check his reality. Unlike Trump, decent people would still work for Biden.

I remember when there were "adults in the room." They would make sure President Trump did nothing dangerously stupid. We were assured of this. Well, those adults are gone: Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson, H.R. McMaster, Ty Cobb, John Kelly, Don McGahn, James Matthis, Nikki Haley and Dan Coats. They all left or were pushed out while they still showed some glimmers of self-respect. The only people staying on are bootlickers and opportunists. The chief requirement for working for Trump is a demonstrated ability to stand by and nod after the president redraws a weather map with a black Sharpie.

Think the first Trump term is wild? Wait until the next one with no adult supervision.

Regarding Warren, there is another matter. It is usually masked by using the polite term "electability."

Trump is unmerited white male privilege incarnate. His election was the ultimate case of a man with no proven qualifications getting the job over a woman with experience. Certainly, Hillary Clinton was unacceptable to many for reasons they cite other than sexism. But Trump won without even having to show his tax returns. Saying there is a double-standard here is quite an understatement.

How much Hillary hate was sexism making other excuses -- even among Democrats?

Can Warren break a glass ceiling so strong even Trump can walk around on it? Trump is the candidate caught on audio bragging about how his celebrity lets him grab women. He still split the vote among white women, 47% to 45%.

Barack Obama broke a glass ceiling. Obama was a brilliant campaigner hitting a ceiling severely cracked by our invasion of the wrong country and the collapse of the economy. None of those conditions currently apply.

I could make a very good argument the "electability" issue is defeatist. You cannot break a barrier until you try. But one could also argue the Democrats did try in 2016. Even bringing up this issue could be a self-fulfilling prophecy, one could argue. All right; but self-fulfilling prophecies do get fulfilled.

Women won big in 2018 elections. None of those elections had an Electoral College, though. The best-known fact in recent American politics is: Clinton won the popular vote -- handily. But the popular vote does not decide the election Warren wants to be in.

Jennifer Lawless, an expert on gender and politics and a professor at the University of Virginia, told the Christian Science Monitor last week: "There is no clear evidence that sexism cost Hillary Clinton the election. Hillary's problems were more the fact that she had the last name 'Clinton,' not the fact that she lacked a Y chromosome."

No clear evidence it cost her the election? Fair enough, but I would also like to see clear evidence it didn't.

Commentary on 09/21/2019

Print Headline: Biden's age; Warren's gender

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