HL 90 is in praise of a certain sister and brothers over 70 years of age. It is really not about whether the quintet of septuagenarians seeking the presidency (Warren, Trump, Biden, Sanders and Bloomberg) are too old for the job nor whether some among them are geriatricaly unfit.
Some say that about Biden. And one who said it, Julian Castro, with his ham-handed accusation of short-term memory loss during a televised debate, effectively ended his own campaign. The Sanders’ discussion centered on his heart attack. After which he quickly resumed a punishing schedule. All the while, the 2020 contender who clearly and consistently displays many signs of cognitive decline is President Donald Trump. This observation and diagnosis comes from another male aged 72+.
But no, it’s not about that – though that and those are important questions. Recent proof of the price paid for disregarding them is found in Ronald Reagan’s second term, and most infamously the 1986 Iran-Contra affair. That debacle occurred without the president noticing and only tardily and partially comprehending what had happened. At the 1984 debates, Walter Mondale didn’t need to attack like Señor Castro, but he could have and should have simply and gently responded to Reagan’s nervous and halting joke about the former senator’s and vice-president’s “youth and inexperience” with a gracious “thank you Mr. President for your service to our country – you deserve a comfortable and honorable retirement.” But no again, it’s not about that.
This is about how brave and tough the current older candidates are to put themselves in the position to do such a difficult and exhausting job. A job so tough that it turned Barack Obama from the picture of a young athlete to a white-haired man of an age in just eight years.
For readers not at or near 70, you can look at actuarial tables to see how likely death is for each of these candidates during a first and second term in office. And toiling in that office – not luxuriating with grandchildren, tending crops, painting or writing that self-serving memoir or long deferred execrable novel. And for those of a certain age, no life insurance charts are needed to confirm what we’re talking about.
Yesterday, 50-year old Cory Booker threw in the towel in a manner similar to 45-year old Julian Castro’s recent “no mas”. They followed other youthful quitters including Kamala (55) Harris and the two New York “zeroes” Kirsten (53) Gillibrand and Mayor Bill (58) de Blasio. Persistence is another valuable candidate trait common to the oldsters.
In this praise of the 70+ group for being willing to do this enervating job during their oxymoronic Golden Years, Trump is again the outlier. He does show many signs of early dementia but not exhaustion. It’s clear that golf and campaign rallies take far more of his time than reading or briefings or the other hard work of the chief executive. But to the other four, this old man’s hat is off to each and all.
 74-year old Bill Weld would make this a sextet. We leave to readers and perhaps a future HL Post consideration of whether the current version of the grand old party ever considered offering Republican voters any choice about who would be their nominee in 2020.
Scary to think that the Donald and I have something in common…72 years of age!
I think you were generous in that septuagenarians, whether they want to accept it or not, are in their most honest moments showing signs of fading.
Most do have a modicum of wisdom and have been around the block at least once, but often may lack the energy level necessary for the job, and the ineffable ability to process quickly on when standing up and put on the spot.
HL of course to the contrary!
All my best