Gerontocracy Says Biden is A-OK

After Joe Biden’s debate debacle Thursday night, many Democratic officials and operatives — uniformly described as in a “panic” — are calling for the 81-year-old president step aside, to make way for a younger, more robust, politician to be nominated at the party convention in Chicago this August.

But the party’s senior leaders, many of them Biden’s peers in the octogenarian set, are calling on Democrats to stick with the balky Biden, who had trouble stringing together cogent sentences Thursday night in the CNN debate with Donald Trump, even when presented with oportunities to dunk on the 45th president on issues like abortion and the Jan. 6 insurgency.

James Clyburn, the 83-year-old South Carolina congressman who is one of Biden’s most essential surrogates, used a baseball metaphor to encourage patience, calling Biden’s debate performance “strike one” — a recognition of failure — but encouraged the Democrats to “stay the course.”

Nancy Pelosi, the 84-year-old former Speaker of the House, had been prescient in advising Biden not to debate Donald Trump back in May. However the San Francisco Democrat, who remains a force in the party, told reporters that she does not believe the party needs a new nominee. She reflected that Biden’s performance “wasn’t great,” but that “from a values standpoint he far outshone the other guy.”

Pelosi’s longtime deputy and former majority leader Steny Hoyer, 85, made similar remarks, insisting the party must not change horses mid stream. The Maryland Democrat recognized the obvious — that Biden had a “bad night” — but declared: “We have a candidate. It’s Joe Biden.”

More from Rolling Stone

Best of Rolling Stone