Saagar Enjeti: Jimmy Carter's dire warning about Joe Biden

Opinion by: Saagar Enjeti 

Former President Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterOvernight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases In Syria, making America ashamed again — and weaker Garth Brooks on Jimmy Carter's volunteer work: 'Nobody cares about "Republican" or "Democrat" in heaven' MORE issued a very dire warning yesterday, one that we should all heed. I don't normally care what the former President thinks on many matters, but on this one, we should all listen.

Carter told a crowd at an event he was speaking with at an event that quote, "if I were just 80 years old, if I was 15 years younger, I don't believe I could undertake the duties experienced when I was President." This remarkable statement was offered at the same time that he said that four more years of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff MORE would be a disaster.

Given that both former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump says lawmakers should censure Schiff Schiff says committees will eventually make impeachment inquiry transcripts public Trump threat lacks teeth to block impeachment witnesses MORE and Senator Bernie Sander would be 80 years old while in their first term in the oval office, the swipe was a clear intervention in the race by the former President. What made it even more remarkable was that Carter voted for Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary.

Carter's criticism of Sanders aside, his statement reveals the core problem that Joe Biden faces in this race: his age. As Nate Silver noted in a piece I highlighted here previously, many of the people who support Joe Biden and will vote in the 2020 Democratic primary don't care about Biden's gaffes; they care about his age.

Carter spells out age here in terms of his ability to run the country and physically keep up with the toll of the job, but I want to return to something I’ve mentioned previously. What you believe before you go into the oval office is so critically important.

While you're president, you don't actually have that much time to think. You're shuttled from destination to destination, you give speeches, you shake hands, everybody wants something from you and the entire time the press is chomping at the bit in order to show how you screwed up.

It’s basically like being in a firefighter for 8 years. And you know what firefighters rely on in dangerous situations? Their training. Joe Biden's political training so to speak is exactly what we must avoid in the next four years. Our economy and our world position is rapidly changing. We're a technologically advanced service economy that's dealing with a massive decline in our middle class, largely due to the policies that Biden championed in his nearly 40 years in politics.

Think about the reflex thoughts that Joe Biden has on so many sorts of issues. You don't even have to think, actually. Just look at what he says in every debate, every rally, every commercial.

His central message is that President Trump is an aberration, that his election is a mere blip on the radar and the break from the neoliberal consensus is "not who we are as a country."

On healthcare he gives us a solution he proffered in 2009. On foreign policy he gives us one he's been advocating for since 1975. On financial regulation its one since the 1990's. I can go on and on and on and on. This matters even more when somebody is a septuagenarian: people are generally pretty set in their ways at that time. You need to be absolutely confident if you're going to elevate somebody of that age to the White House, that you're so sure you like what they believe.