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President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, on April 24, in Washington. Biden is expected to announce he's running for a second term on Tuesday.Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press

The latest polls suggest that a large majority of Americans don’t want President Joe Biden to run again. He is nevertheless expected to announce, likely as soon as Tuesday, that he is seeking a second term.

Mr. Biden already has a lock on the Democratic nomination, and despite the findings of polls conducted a long year-and-a-half before the 2024 vote, he stands a good chance of being re-elected. What’s more, he deserves to be.

He isn’t the preferred candidate of most Americans, or even most Democrats. But as he often says, don’t compare me with the Almighty, compare me to the alternative. Compared to the alternative, he looks good. Or at least good enough.

But before I shower Scranton Joe with faint praise, let’s talk about the elephant that dogs him: age.

If Mr. Biden wins again, he’ll begin his second term at age 82. That’s more than four years older than Ronald Reagan was when he left office as the then-oldest U.S. president.

Mr. Biden is four years older than George W. Bush. Not four years older than Mr. Bush was in the White House, but four years older than the current age of an ex-president who was last in office a decade and a half ago. He’s also 19 years older than Barack Obama.

Everyone declines eventually, but each of us declines at a different rate. Take Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway – aged 92 and 99, respectively. They have long remained at the top of the game as investors. They have also continued to demonstrate exceptional mental acuity in speeches and interviews, including spending a full day on stage each year responding to questions from shareholders with detailed answers and clever quips, as part of what has long been the world’s most insightful and entertaining annual meeting.

But even that dynamic duo are preparing for the inevitable. They’ve given a farm team of portfolio managers control over some investment decisions, and they’ve quietly tapped Canadian Greg Abel, the chief executive officer of Berkshire’s energy subsidiary, as Mr. Buffett’s eventual successor.

And Mr. Biden? One of the main reasons to fear his re-election is that, if he can’t complete a second term, the job will pass to the woefully unprepared Vice-President Kamala Harris. It’s not unprecedented for a president to ditch his first term VP, but Ms. Harris got on the ticket in 2020 because her presence shored up support among some key Democratic voters. As a Black and Asian woman who is not a “Squad” progressive, she has a combination of attributes that isn’t easy to replace. Inertia works in her favour – as it does for Mr. Biden.

There are no outstanding alternatives to Mr. Biden within the Democratic Party. And on the Republican side, the options are former president Donald Trump or Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The latter is pitching himself as a less unstable version of the former, but with more commitment to culture-war combat.

So there’s your Election 2024 menu: Original Trump (more hot-headed than ever!), reheated Trumpism (but without the Trump!) or a second helping of comfort-food Joe Biden.

When those are the choices, Mr. Biden has shown that he can win. He defeated Mr. Trump in 2020, and in last year’s midterms – where governing parties always suffer a big setback – he scored a victory by retaining control of the Senate and conceding only the slimmest majority in the House.

For Canada, Mr. Biden is also not perfect – but probably as good as it gets. One danger spot for our country is the misnamed Inflation Reduction Act, a strategy of protectionism and industrial subsidies in the name of lowering carbon emissions and slowing the rise of China. It’s a problematic bipartisan policy, and it might get worse under a Republican administration.

Mr. Biden has at least taken steps to keep Canada partly within the protectionist walls, such as by changing a proposed “Buy American” provision for electric vehicles to “Buy North American.” The Biden administration also talks a lot about “friendshoring” – which implies that the United States wants friends. President Trump, in contrast, never met an ally he didn’t want to punch. He tapped into rising isolationism on the right by making great shows of picking public fights with friends, including Canada.

One place where Mr. Biden’s record for Canada has been worse than Mr. Trump’s, and where it will continue to be worse than that of any Republican leader, is the Keystone XL pipeline. Mr. Biden killed it, as Mr. Obama did before him, as a cheap way to buy silence from climate activists in his party. Beyond that, however, it’s hard to imagine protectionist moves against Canada being lesser under a re-elected Mr. Trump. He is, after all, the guy who tried to tear up the North American free-trade agreement.

The New York Times recently described donors to the Democratic Party as being “in a state of suspended and suppressed angst: fully yet nervously behind Mr. Biden.” That’s how a lot of Canadians feel. Joe Biden is not the best option in 2024. But he is easily the least bad option.

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