Happy Birthday, Joe
Seventy-eight candles on a birthday cake is an achievement in longevity for anyone, and Joe Biden earns the flames-and-frosting trophy this Friday. As Mr. Biden and his partygoers prepare to take over the White House, here’s a wish for four years of good health.
America’s oldest President to date, Ronald Reagan, was three weeks shy of 78 when he left the Oval Office for the last time. The second oldest President, Donald Trump, will be 74 1/2 on Jan. 20. From there, the record drops to roughly age 70 for Dwight Eisenhower and Andrew Jackson. Harry Truman and George H.W. Bush departed at not-quite 69.
美国迄今为止最年长的总统罗纳德·里根(Ronald Reagan)最后一次离开椭圆形办公室时，距离78岁还差3周。美国第二大总统唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)将于1月20日迎来74岁半的生日。从那时起，德怀特·艾森豪威尔(Dwight Eisenhower)和安德鲁·杰克逊(Andrew Jackson)的年龄纪录将降至70岁左右。哈里·杜鲁门和乔治·H·W·布什在不到69岁的时候离开。
Mr. Biden’s term won’t expire until he’s 82, so he has a special duty to be forthright about his health. Last year Mr. Biden’s campaign released a three-page doctor’s note on his medical history. Entries included high cholesterol, acid reflux, seasonal allergies and non-valvular atrial fibrillation, a kind of irregular heart rhythm, though it was “completely asymptomatic” and didn’t require treatment.
The letter briefly listed Mr. Biden’s surgery in 1988 to repair a hemorrhage from a brain aneurysm. A scan in 2014 “showed no recurrence.” He’s had “several localized, non-melanoma skin cancers removed,” and he is under “close dermatologic surveillance.”
A “recent” echocardiogram showed “no signs of heart failure.” He doesn’t drink alcohol but “works out at least five days per week.” The doctor concluded that Mr. Biden “is a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.”
How about cognitive health or testing? Mr. Biden has bristled at the question, saying he’s “constantly tested” in the campaign. But spend a few minutes watching Mr. Biden in 2012, browbeating Paul Ryan during that year’s vice presidential debate. He was aggressive and confident. In 2020, in the rare times he speaks off the cuff without a teleprompter, he looks more tentative, as if grasping for an argument or words that he knows are around here somewhere.
It doesn’t take a tinfoil hat to wonder if Mr. Biden might be losing his fastball, not that there would be any shame in it at age 78. In any case, voters have given him the job. With any luck Mr. Biden will blow out birthday candles for many years to come. But as the oldest President ever, his cognitive condition will be a frequent source of speculation, and he should be transparent. President Trump’s critics said his health disclosures were inadequate, and fair enough. Mr. Biden has a chance to do better.