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Yale Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld Defends President Biden’s Age

The Picture of Dorian Gray: A Cautionary Tale for Today's Politics

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During the 1984 presidential campaign, Reagan, who was 73 at the time, was asked about his age and whether he had the stamina and mental acuity to be president. In response, Reagan quipped, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” This witty retort helped to defuse concerns about Reagan’s age and helped to secure his re-election. In the current context of The Wall Street Journal’s editors, Oscar Wilde’s novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” can serve as a cautionary tale for those who prioritize youth and surface-level appearances over experience and expertise in the realm of politics. Just as Dorian Gray became infatuated with his youthful and attractive exterior, some media outlets may become overly preoccupied with trending stories and sensationalism, thereby sacrificing substance and integrity in the pursuit of shallow and misleading narratives.

Yale SOM
New York ( —

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale School of Management professor, has taken issue with The Wall Street Journal’s editors who criticize President Biden’s plan to seek re-election as an octogenarian in obvious decline. Sonnenfeld contends that age and cynicism are unique barriers to truth and that throughout history, octogenarian leaders have rebuilt nations at fragile moments. For example, Benjamin Franklin and Konrad Adenauer led their respective countries at crucial times. Similarly, Biden has brought economic resurgence and renewed purpose to America. He has created a more equitable economy from the bottom up and the middle out, added millions of jobs, and lowered the unemployment rate to a 54-year low. Therefore, as Biden launches his re-election campaign, he has the tailwinds of a strong economy at his back and a more equitable and resilient economy thanks to his steady stewardship. In this regard, we strongly recommend reading Jeffrey Sonnenfeld’s Time article “Our Age of Cynicism and Cynicism Over Age Are the Only Things Holding Biden Back.”



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