President Biden’s Upcoming Physical Exam Raises Questions of Fitness for Office
As President Joe Biden turns 81 this year, many are questioning his fitness for office and whether he should run for a second term. Biden, who is the oldest president in U.S. history, would be 82 at the start of a potential second term and 86 at the end.
The president is currently undergoing a routine physical exam at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland on Thursday, his first check-up in more than a year, with some of the results to be made public afterward. In December 2019, his campaign released his most recent physical and medical report prior to his arrival at the White House. The summary, three pages in length, concluded that Biden is “a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency.”
In 2021, after a checkup and a colonoscopy at Walter Reed, the White House released a six-page letter from the president’s physician, Kevin O’Connor, declaring Biden “healthy, vigorous” and fit to carry out his duties. However, O’Connor did not say in his report whether Biden underwent cognitive testing. Matthew Dallek, a political historian, noted that presidents have not typically made public the testing results for older adults, even though many doctors suggest it.
President Biden has declared his intention to seek reelection, though his age has been a source of unease among himself and the Democratic Party. It has left him vulnerable to attacks by Republicans, with newly announced 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley demanding that all politicians over the age of 75 be required to undergo ‘mandatory mental competency tests.' At Biden's 2021 physical, O'Connor noted two points of “observation”: an “increasing frequency and severity of ‘throat clearing' and coughing during speaking engagements” as well as the president's gait, which O'Connor said was “perceptibly stiffer and less fluid than it was a year or so ago.”
Questions remain if Biden is physically and mentally up to running again in 2024, and whether his physical results will be ‘sugarcoated.' CNN was informed by an individual engaged in the yearly physical that Biden's age has become a pervasive issue.
0. “Biden, amid questions about age, to undergo 2nd physical as president Thursday” ABC News, 16 Feb. 2023, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/biden-amid-questions-age-undergo-2nd-physical-president/story?id=97226141
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2. “Biden to undergo routine physical and release health details” KOMU 8, 16 Feb. 2023, https://www.komu.com/news/nationworld/biden-to-undergo-routine-physical-and-release-health-details/article_b8647a36-20ae-5951-ae3b-d13886aac019.html
3. “Biden arrives at Walter Reed for physical exam” WANE, 16 Feb. 2023, https://www.wane.com/top-stories/biden-arrives-at-walter-reed-for-physical-exam/