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I’m eighty-two years old, 5/9″, 150 pounds. I can line dance for an hour in the morning and play pickleball for an hour-and-a-half in the afternoon. My good health is supported by medications, machines, and procedures beyond Hippocrates’s wildest imagination. I gratefully embrace my good fortune—a hundred years ago, I’d have died by now. I’m a writer and spend 4 hours at my desk every day, have been a professor, appeared on podcasts, tv shows, radio broadcasts, and have given workshops. I don’t think I’ve ever given a presentation as bedraggled as Biden’s last night, but if I did, it wouldn’t matter. It does matter if you’re the president of the United States. A president needs physical, emotional, and mental stamina that is available all the time, and in an 82-year-old, it’s there sometimes and sometimes not. The “not” can happen inconveniently, such as at a debate on which Biden’s, America’s, and perhaps the planet and democracy’s future depend. We are a country ever in flux, integrating people from around the world, training up our companies and our work force for cutting edge jobs, trying to protect ourselves against devastating climate change and the chronic American problems of racism and Christian Nationalism. We cannot afford to fail at crucial moments.

I lost faith in Hillary Clinton when she allowed Trump to walk all over her. At one of their debates, he hulked behind her while she was speaking, and she did nothing. I wondered why she didn’t tell him to get back in his box. I believe he would have retreated because that’s what bullies do when confronted. If she couldn’t tame Trump, how could she tame Putin? I had the same thought with Biden last night. What if the lies, insults, humiliations, and challenges were hurled by Putin instead of Trump? Would Biden quiver, mumble, forget, and misspeak?

I’m with Gloria Steinem, who says she’d give anything to have instant access to facts and names—who was that who starred in Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn. You can remember Audrey Hepburn, why not her co-star, that handsome guy. (Gregory Peck) I laugh with a special intimacy when the poet Billy Collins writes, “Whatever it is that you are struggling to remember /it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,/not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen./It has floated away down a dark mythological river/whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall.” My memory may not be so sharp, but I’m smart enough to write an award-winning book and this blog post. Last year a short story of mine was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Joe Biden has been smart and experienced enough to run this country for four fruitful years, God love him, but neither of us should be president.

Neither Joe nor I are vibing in the same groove as the young people on whom we will count to save this planet. To me, a beautiful song is “All The Things You Are,” and music to dance to is “Sing Sing Sing” by the Benny Goodman band. I was spellbound when Elvis Presley made his first nationwide appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. It’s depressing when I draw a blank stare sharing that memory. Everyone knows who Elvis Presley was, but Ed Sullivan? I find Travis Kelce (how do you pronounce his name again?) adorable and sexy, but my idols were Marlon Brando and Gregory Peck. The people on whom we count to save this planet don’t have any inkling what it was like to grow up before television. The formative early years of Joe Biden and I were before television.

The children of today’s young people, upon whom we are counting to save the planet, will look blankly at their parents when told about the pre-AI times. An older person can intellectually understand what AI is, but the emotional tie some young people feel with a fictional persona they play a video game with is emotionally incomprehensible to people like Joe and me. Joe Biden’s appearance on Tik Tok feels like an awkward intrusion. Every president is also a cultural and spiritual leader. What is the nature of our country? What does it stand for? Whom do we care about? What do we wear? People tolerate his being out of touch, using words like “malarkey,” for example, because they like him, but he feels different from them.

Everyone my (and Joe’s) age has suffered anguish, disappointment, and loss. Our children didn’t turn out as we’d hoped. Someone fell ill and suffered terribly. Marriage wasn’t what we’d thought it would be. We got fired. We got misunderstood. We lost touch with people. Our parents died. There was a moment when we thought we were dying. Every time you interact with an 80+-year-old, you can guaranty that there’s a place somewhere around the solar plexus that stores their unforgettable losses. This grief is often paired with a heightened compassion for the suffering of others. It’s a temptation to use these losses to connect with others, and a great disappointment to learn that nobody really cares. You are left to mourn and remember alone, creating what a psychotherapist friend calls “low-level depression” which affects everything.

Of course, Donald Trump is also unfit to be president. I’m not sure he’s aware enough to even feel the low-level depression. Dwight Eisenhower was proud of his golf game, but he’d led the D-Day Invasion. He was a five-star general. Trump has golfed through business failure after business failure and bankruptcy after bankruptcy. I grew up in the New York area and remember Trump from long ago. We thought of him as a fatuous toy, a clown who wanted his picture in the paper. I keenly remember being struck by the cruel photos of him squiring Marla Maples while still married to Ivana Trump. I remember hearing Trump touting the Trump Shuttle. Planes were going to be flying from city to city on the eastern seaboard every hour. He talked a great game and I thought it was a terrific idea, so I was surprised when it only lasted a few years, a failure. I remember him buying the Plaza Hotel, and seeing photographs of the glitzy remodeling going on. A few years later, it was bankrupt. After serial failures, New York banks drew away from him, and New Yorkers know that. They know Donald Trump well, and that’s why they only gave him 15% of the vote. The rest of the country should take note.

All three of us, Biden, Trump, and I (a voter) should let the younger people in whose hands we must put the future of the planet run the country. We’re not over the hill, not invisible, not dottering or ill, most of the time, but we should not be running the country.

It’s time for my nap.