Frankly, I don’t think so. Much has been made about John McCain’s age (which is just the adjunct to “not conservative enough, too tempermental, unhinged by his POW years, etc., blah de blah blah blah”). I am turning 62 this year, and I’m discovering (as people my age inevitably do) that all my youth-oriented biases were just so much ignorance and misunderstanding. Not that I claim to be all-wise and stateshiplike at this point, but just that I’m finding out, as my parents and grandparents did, that I really didn’t know shit when I was young. Kind of like when you leave your college years and get a job and find out you didn’t know everything after all. It’s a humiliating process, and unfortunately for the ego, it doesn’t stop when you move into middle age and after.
Whatever you think about McCain’s political philosophy (and I certaintly don’t agree with all that either), let’s put to rest his age. At 72, in this day and age, he’s unlikely to die in office. My mother-in-law, bless her heart, is 80, and still spry and self-sufficient, and not at all stupid. But, if our worst fears are realized, McCain will still be surrounded by the advisers and government functionaries whose job it is to keep the Office Of The Presidency operating at maximum, and if he has chosen wisely, a responsible second who will step in to take over. Let us all remember Ronald Reagan, who even in his presidential heyday was no doubt showing the initial signs of Alzheimers, and yet the Republic did not fall and did not falter.
The fiction is that we elect a man we think will save us all. The truth is, he will set in motion processes that will, if nor guarantee, at least lend momentum, to the political direction we, the American people, desire. The man is not important. The office, and its guiding principle, is.
My mother in law turned 80 this year. She’s still sharp as a tack when it comes to what matters. She doesn’t like McCain. She likes Obama even less. She lived through the Great Depression, WWII, the Cold War, Vietnam, and now the Great Middle East Mess. She is the daughter and granddaughter of German immigrants. She’s never lost sight of American values. So what makes her irrelevant because of her age?
Same deal when you’re choosing a president. Crusty old warrior, or clueless metrosexual?
September 11, 2008, 2:57 am at 2:57 am
I suspect the biggest risk of death for a US president is assassination, which is something that a 72 year old is no more susceptible to than anyone else. So the system has to be able to cope with the removal of the President in any case.
September 11, 2008, 5:50 am at 5:50 am
One of the “jokes” going around:
Lefty: “But, what if McCain dies in office and Palin becomes president?!”
Righty: “Don’t tease me, bro.”
September 11, 2008, 9:02 am at 9:02 am
excellent post, rebeccah.
September 11, 2008, 10:09 am at 10:09 am
Great post, Rebecca. I don’t see why Lefties would want to keep bringing up the “health” card anyway. Since 47-year-old Barack’s dad died at 46 and his mom at 52. Seeing as how genetics (and lifestyle – remember Barack is a long-time smoker in a family with heart disease and cancer) plays a big part in longevity, that’s probably not a real smart card to play.
September 11, 2008, 2:01 pm at 2:01 pm
And how long would it be since either party looked at their VP and though of the president dying without a shudder of fear??
Unless Palin buggers up somehow the “he might die in office” meme wont get much traction…for some it might be seen as a positive.