How Old is Too Old?

Evan Thomas, writing for the Washington Post, has an opinion piece raising the question of how old is too old to run for president? Biden would be 78 in 2020, and Sanders 79. Regretfully, speaking from the camp of “old”, I have to say: that’s too old. Trump is too old to be president; the man doesn’t use a computer. He can’t possibly grasp the issues involved in how the Russians influenced our last election, much less broader issues like privacy and how to balance free speech with the hateful and dangerous rhetoric on much of social media.

Just to be clear, I think Trump knew perfectly well that Trump Jr. and others in the campaign were seeking Russian help, and approved. Just don’t ask Trump senior how it all came about.

There are too many old men in Congress as well. Did anyone see Google CEO Sundar Pichai being grilled by completely out of touch members of the House Judiciary Committee, one of whom waved his granddaughter’s IPhone and asked Pichai why it didn’t work? Ahem. Google doesn’t make IPhones. Apple does.

There are exceptions to the rule. I’m glad 78 year old Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House.

Here’s a key paragraph in Thomas’ piece:

“So, when it comes to making tough calls in the Oval Office, is older wiser? Well, actually, maybe not. Older people can get stuck in their ways. They can be too confident in their judgments and heedless of new facts. The Wise Old Men who advised Johnson in 1968 to get out of Vietnam had earlier counseled the president to get into Vietnam. During the mid-1960s, they had warned Johnson not to listen to the antiwar protesters or go wobbly on the communists. During the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, President John F. Kennedy brought Acheson into his group of close advisers. Acheson, whose hawkishness had hardened in old age, counseled the young president to take out the Soviet missiles with airstrikes. It’s a good thing Kennedy didn’t listen to Acheson, or we might all be radioactive dust now.”

The Vatican hierarchy chooses old men to be Pope. Much as people may like 82 year old Pope Francis after the cold and rule-bound Benedict, how is that working out?

At 73 I try really hard to stay current with technology, and I can stay in the game but I’m not good, not really. I try to work out enough to slow the process of aging, and I’m doing that and still getting old. I did a harder workout than usual on Tuesday, because I was feeling strong, and on Wednesday my body felt as if I’d been in a train wreck. I try hard to adapt to the cultural shift that makes younger people less planful and more spontaneous than our generation was, but I still often feel left hanging until things sort themselves out.

So, I can live with 69 year old Elizabeth Warren, but not the two guys a generation older than she. I hope neither Biden nor Sanders runs.

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