This is awkward. But it’s what happens when you have a gerontocracy.
The subject of this story isn’t Biden, or any of the top Dem leadership figures, but it very well could be.
Before starting high-stakes talks on the nation’s next farm bill, House Democrats are facing tensions in their own ranks about whether their Agriculture Committee chair is ready for the challenge.
Rep. David Scott, 76, is a member long respected by both parties — and a historic figure as the first Black lawmaker to lead the agriculture panel. But people close to the Georgia Democrat, known for his low-key manner, acknowledge he’s noticeably slowed in the last few years, citing his increasingly halting speech and trouble at times focusing on a topic.
The stories are familiar.
But more than a dozen lawmakers and aides interviewed by POLITICO detailed growing frustrations about some of his decisions while leading the committee of 27 Democrats and 24 Republicans. They also have pointed to instances of his inability to finish his thoughts or remember previous conversations.
This lawmaker described speaking with Scott last November about details of a bill in a conversation where Scott appeared attentive and engaged. A few days later, the lawmaker was shocked by how much Scott struggled to carry on a conversation about the same bill. He seemed to lose focus, was unable to find the words to complete his thoughts at times and didn’t seem to remember ever discussing the legislation before, this lawmaker said. Scott’s office did not respond to a request for comment about the incident.
In a press availability last July, Scott struggled to convey basic facts about a bill just advanced by the committee. He claimed, unprompted, that the bill had 42 co-sponsors, when in reality it didn’t have any. He made several other mistakes before an aide stepped in and ended the event. Scott hasn’t answered reporters’ questions in a similar, scheduled media availability since. Aides cite his busy schedule as one reason.
Biden has that same busy schedule. It’s why he’s not supposed to answer questions and the lid gets called 5 minutes after he wakes up.
There are plenty of high-functioning people in their seventies and eighties. But it’s a risk factor and the Democrats and Republicans have developed a leadership class that is fairly elderly.
Some of that may be due to the persistence of the Boomers as a ruling class, the general generational weaknesses of Generation X, Millennials, and Zoomers, and the increasing stratification of power so that the Boomers revolutionaries who overthrew the systems and seized control also contrived to make it very difficult to replace them.
The Dem retirements and 2022 will probably shake things up, but you have to wonder what happens to this country 5 or 10 years from now.
If Ron DeSantis gets to the White House at some point, he’d be the second Generation X president.
We could very well be looking at a scenario where Generation X is bypassed for a new generation of Millennial and Zoomer leadership. And while I’m not a big fan of my own generation, I don’t see this as Bernie-AOC transition as a healthy scenario.
Meanwhile, the Dems are headed for a senility civil war in which they’re trying to pry the levers of power from their own people on the grounds of real or false accusations of senility.
That 25th Amendment they’ve become so obsessed with lately will be a factor in all this.