After Joe Biden seemed to lose the thread at various points during last month’s debate and then misstepped his way through Iowa, questions were raised about how on-the-ball he is, really, at 76 years old. But don’t worry, his brain is fine and it’s silly for you to worry about old candidates who are going to live basically forever, according to a Tuesday story from Politico.
Biden isn’t the oldest Democrat running in 2020—that goes to Bernie Sanders, who is 77 (Elizabeth Warren is a spry 70)—but he’s seemed a bit...off, frequently getting outrun by the younger candidates on the debate stage, and calling to mind someone else. But don’t worry, he’s all good! His former brain surgeon told the site (emphasis mine throughout):
But concerns about Biden’s age and mental fitness are likely overblown, according to experts on aging and the brain, as well as actuarial tables used by the insurance industry to estimate the health and longevity of customers.
The two brain aneurysms that Biden suffered in 1988 were fully treated and he showed no signs of mental trouble as a result, said Dr. Neal Kassell, who performed the surgery on Biden three decades ago. Nor did Biden suffer any brain damage that would might come back to haunt him in old age, Kassell said.
“He is every bit as sharp as he was 31 years ago. I haven’t seen any change,” Kassell said. “I can tell you with absolute certainty that he had no brain damage, either from the hemorrhage or from the operations that he had. There was no damage whatsoever.”
Biden: no brain damage! Slap that on a bumper sticker.
NO, SERIOUSLY, THE MAN IS FINE:
“When you hear somebody on TV and they make a mistake during a speech or a debate, you’ve got to cut them some slack,” [researcher Dr. S. Jay] Olshansky said. “If you’ve ever given a speech, it’s not easy standing in front of a crowd of people — especially standing in front of television cameras with millions of people watching — and avoiding verbal mistakes.”
Biden’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connnor, said in a written statement provided by the campaign that “Vice President Biden is in excellent physical condition. He is more than capable of handling the rigors of the campaign and the office for which he is running.”
Biden’s former brain surgeon, Kassell, went a step further: “I am going to vote for the candidate who I am absolutely certain has a brain that is functioning. And that narrows it down exactly to one.”
Lest you accuse me of being too paranoid, the story put Biden’s mental acumen in context with the other 70-something candidates running: Don’t forget, Sanders is rich! Per Politico:
But Olshansky points out that presidential candidates are probably healthier than the average U.S. citizen — and will likely live longer than the average as a result. People who have good health care, are more highly educated, and have pensions generally live longer.
“They all belong to a sub-group of the population that is privileged. And privileged sub-groups tend to live longer and better than the average,” Olshansky said. “Despite Bernie Sanders perhaps claiming otherwise, he’s part of the 1 percent. Actually, it’s more like one-one-hundredth of one percent.”
Olshansky said the older candidates could belong to a group of what are called “super-agers,” people who live into their 80s but show a mental sharpness as if they were in their 50s or 60s.
I’ll leave you with one final, dark takeaway, depending on your frame of mind. According to the researchers, none of the candidates are statistically likely to die in office—including Donald Trump. Well then!