President and first lady visit D.C. children's hospital to continue annual White House Christmas tradition

 December 24, 2023

Given the American people's widespread and legitimate concerns about President Joe Biden's age and health, both physical and mental, there is a level of anxiety among many as they await anticipated reports about the potential eventual hospitalization of the elderly president.

Biden did go to a hospital on Friday, albeit not for any problems with his health, but rather to spread Christmas cheer with first lady Jill Biden among patients and families at Children's National Hospital in Washington D.C., according to the Associated Press.

The visit was a continuation of a reported 81-year annual tradition of the first lady, sometimes joined by the president, making a pre-Christmas visit to the hospital that was first begun by former first lady Bess Truman.

First couple's annual pre-Christmas hospital visit

The AP reported that first lady Biden used the visit to the D.C. Children's hospital to read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to the young patients receiving care at the facility.

President Biden, meanwhile, used the opportunity to greet patients and families and staff at the hospital, and even joked about his re-election bid as he said, "Next Christmas when I see you, maybe I’ll see you at the White House."

The outlet noted that the pre-Christmas hospital visit is typically a tradition for first ladies but observed that Joe had joined Jill for the holiday visit for three years in a row.

Biden family headed to Camp David for Christmas, St. Croix for New Year's

According to VOA News, the first couple's visit on Friday to the Children's National Hospital in D.C. was one of their last scheduled events before leaving the White House for the Christmas holiday.

President Biden and a few family members left the White House on Saturday and headed to the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland while the first lady participated in a holiday celebration with military families at Fort Cambell in Kentucky before separately joining the rest of the family at Camp David.

The family will reportedly return briefly to Washington D.C. on Tuesday before turning around to leave again to spend the remainder of the year in St. Croix of the U.S. Virgin Islands until after the new year begins.

Biden's age, cognitive health, and competence an issue for majority of voters

While this trip to the hospital for President Biden was nothing more than the continuation of a presidential holiday tradition, it does little to assuage the real concerns many Americans have about the 81-year-old Biden's advanced age and apparent decline in his physical and mental health, as reflected in the polls.

ABC News reported last month that multiple polls throughout the year have shown that roughly 75% of Americans, including around half of Democratic voters, believe that Biden, who would be 86 after a prospective second term in office, is simply "too old" to be an effective leader for the nation.

But Biden's age alone isn't necessarily the chief concern of American voters, but rather the typical physical and mental health problems that afflict many elderly individuals.

In that regard, The Hill reported in September on polling which showed that more than half of all Americans, 52%, were "very concerned" about Biden's cognitive health, while another roughly 22% were "somewhat concerned" about the decline of the president's mental capabilities currently and in the next few years.

All of that and more has led to a sort of crisis of confidence, or more accurately a lack thereof, in the president's "competence" to carry out the duties of his job, with Yahoo! News reporting last month that just 31% of voters think Biden remains competent to be president compared to 54% who believe he is now too incompetent to handle his duties as leader of the Western World.

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