Category Archives: aarp

>REACT: Is McCain able?

>I rarely take political recommendations from movie stars, and other uninformed celebrities. So, when Chuck Norris said John McCain is too old to be president, I could care less about the action movie actor’s opinion. However, if posed as a question, it is a whole ‘nother thing.

Is a guy 71 years old too old for the rigors of the most powerful office in the world? After due deliberation, and slipping over 60 myself, I have to say a definite “maybe.”

I can already hear the AARP chorus bellowing “ageism!” and trotting out some genetic oddity who is an 80-year-old pole-vaulter. We are just not supposed to suggest that an older person is incapable of taking on any task – except maybe driving a car – even though we know getting up after falling down can be a challenge for a lot of folks McCain’s age.

Two issues that should encourage us to at least examine the question. We know that as even healthy people age, they change. They lose memory and some strategic thinking ability. As we age, we simply do not have the same energy level to maintain the mental and physical activity we did at 40. I have seen younger candidates become zombie-like at the end of a long busy day of meetings and speeches – their brains and bodies unable to function.

Another age factor is temperament. Stereotypically, we refer to older men as “grouchy” and older women as “cranky.” This is not without just cause. The pressures of aging, and the chemical and psychological changes, often make older people more short-tempered.

With McCain, the behind the scenes whispers already suggest a man with a volatile and sometime irrational temperament. I can speak from some experience with this. The only time I met McCain was when I was asked by a friend to pick him up at his hotel and bring him to a private fundraiser.

At the time, as a total McCain fan, I relished the thought of meeting him. For about forty-minutes I had the wannabe president in my car along with two of his aides. At about the half way point, I was ready to pull over to the curb and invite the senator to walk the rest of the way. His maniacal self-serving rant, his mistreatment of his aides, and his incessant gibberish was enough to turn my opinion of him 180 degrees.

I cannot say if he suffers from age-related issues, the affects of his Vietnam War confinement or just your run-of-the-mill mental issues, but from that day forward I could never feel comfortable with the thought of him in the Oval Office. (Least you make an erroneous assumption, his behavior toward me was normal. I did not draw my opinion from anything personal between us.)

Second is the issue of future health. McCain can look as vigorous and energetic today, but at his age, he is in the red zone of life. It is a time that you notice that most of the people in the obituaries are younger than you. Those in the 70-plus group are at high risk for heart attacks, strokes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other debilitating diseases. The prospect of an incapcitated president is even worse constitutionally than a dead president. In this age, we are not likely to allow a near dead president to govern through the First Lady, as was the case with Woodrow Wilson. The chances of McCain completing two terms in office without a major health crisis is on the slim side. Based on most calculations, his odds of surviving the office for eight years are less than 50-50.

He can get all the “permission slips” in the world from his spry 95-year-old mother. But her longevity has little bearing on McCain’s own prospects. It is a cute and charming campaign ploy, but tells us nothing.

Pointing to Reagan as an example is equally useless. The age difference of three years can be viewed as insignificant if they were 45 and 48 years old on Inauguration Day. But once you hit the seventies, a LOT changes in three years. Some, even fans, would argue that Reagan was starting to show signs of mental deterioration in the last years in office. A dotting staff and momentum kept it from showing in public – much like Franklin Roosevelt’s crippled legs and declining acuity. (Some argue that the Cold War was the result of Roosevelt’s lack of mental acuity at Yalta). And just because we got lucky with Reagan, does not mean we should tempt the fates a second time.

I know each individual is a unique case, and it is possible McCain will live to be a healthy 100. Just not likely. The only good thing about a McCain presidency is that he at least he would not be driving on the highway.