Guest columnist Michael Dover: What age? One’s qualified, one’s not

President Joe Biden, left, Jan. 5, 2024, and Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, right, Jan. 19, 2024.

President Joe Biden, left, Jan. 5, 2024, and Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, right, Jan. 19, 2024. AP FILE PHOTO


Published: 03-14-2024 2:46 PM

It’s come to this. A Trump-appointed special counsel questioned the president of the United States — on the day after a horrific attack in Israel and an impending Gaza war — for five hours, about things that happened years ago, and concluded that Joe Biden wouldn’t be convicted because he’s “an elderly man with a poor memory.”

Worse yet, the so-called mainstream news media went berserk with the story. When he first ran, they’d asked: Is Biden too old to run? Since he won, they’ve asked: Is he too old to run again? Next, I guess, the question will be: When will he die?

I’ll be 80 soon. I am still mentally competent, fully capable of reading, writing, thinking and speaking clearly. President Biden is a year older than me, but instead of relaxing in retirement like me, he’s leading our country through some of the most challenging and productive years of any presidency. He’s been responsible for passing some of the most significant legislation in decades, and bringing order, clarity and decency into governing after a disastrous four years of Trump’s regime.

Too old? I don’t think so.

Age hasn’t hindered this strong and effective president. Age brings with it experience and wisdom. Experience in crafting legislation, negotiating tough compromises, building relationships across party lines, and getting valuable work done. Wisdom in knowing when to fight and when to talk, when and how to listen, where to draw the line, and when to redraw it.

Four years ago, Joe Biden won in the middle of a pandemic that devastated the country and our economy. He provided competence in the face of Trump’s manifest incompetence, experience versus Trump’s total ignorance, normalcy and decency versus Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip MAGA politics.

People ached for a government that worked, that cared, that accomplished. Biden delivered because he is smart and knows how to get things done. Trump lost because he cares only about himself, power and money. Nothing has changed — Biden is still competent, smart, thoughtful, and effective. Trump is, in the words of his own secretary of state, a “moron” with an overinflated ego. Biden builds on order, Trump thrives on chaos.

The president is much more than an individual at the top of a very large enterprise. Presidential appointments tell a lot about his character and judgment. And those appointees are the people who actually make the daily decisions that define an administration and make the government run.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

High-speed police chase in Hadley ends in crash, arrest on Hampton Inn lawn
Working group to examine future of money-losing Cherry Hill Golf Course in Amherst
Note from the publisher: Amherst Bulletin distribution change
Turners Falls man charged after crashing into Deerfield house
A trip down memory lane: A memory of visiting the Leverett Sawmill, in honor of the town 250th anniversary
Cost-saving push for Jones project keeps library entrance but scraps other interior preservation

Joe Biden’s appointments demonstrate the same steady hand that he’s brought to the job. Trump’s management style (if you can call it that) was to mix things up, keep everyone off balance, create the image of control emanating entirely from the top and beholden only to him. The country heaved a huge sigh of relief when he left.

Biden’s appointees are talented, capable women and men exercising leadership in their roles as advisers and administrators. Trump had no interest in others’ advice except when it served his own selfish ends. He boasted of keeping many of his appointees in an “acting” rather than a permanent role, so he could fire them at will.

Biden successfully led the country out of the pandemic and the economy out of recession while controlling inflation. He did this while passing an impressive series of laws that upended supply-side Reaganomics, and supported labor while getting the economy back on its feet. He knows how the system works and uses that critical knowledge to effect significant change. Trump pretends to know everything when he actually knows next to nothing about governing.

Biden believes deeply in democracy; Trump led an insurrection to overturn the 2024 election and openly uses fascist rhetoric in his rants.

Joe Biden has gotten to the presidency because he’s the smart grown-up in the room. Trump got to where he is by being the schoolyard bully.

Take your choice. I’ll take the wise old pro over the spoiled brat any day.

Michael Dover is a member of the Steering Committee of Indivisible Northampton — Swing Left Western Mass. He lives in Leverett.