Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, raises an interesting point in his blog today.
He feels that the age of a presidential candidate should be fair game for his/her opponents:
Old Presidents:I think that he actually may be on to something. I know that it is not politically correct to discuss the age of a candidate, but we are talking about the President of the United States. The job itself is stressful enough, add age and the potential health factors that come with old age, and you are dramatically increasing the likelihood that the Veep would move into the Oval Office.
How old is too old for a president? Candidate John McCain will be 72 by the time of the election. The worst case scenario is that he gets elected, does a good job, and gets reelected. He’ll be 80 by the end of his second term.
Imagine you’re a presidential advisor and you notice him starting to lose it. Do you tell the media, and set in motion a chain of events that will end in you losing your own job and power? Or do you schedule fewer public appearances for your boss and hope no one figures it out?
Every person is different, of course. But I’d like to see some statistics on the mental and physical risks to an average 75-year old. If there’s a 30% chance of a major health problem for a 75-year old, but far less for someone the age of John Edwards, I’d like to see those stats. But I doubt the media will spend much time on that sort of thing because their customers skew older. It’s bad business to remind your customers that they are likely to lose it any minute.
I’d like to see a younger candidate address the issue directly in a debate. I think it could be done without cruelty, as in “My opponent is in excellent health. But realistically, you have to ask yourself if it’s wise to vote for a man in his seventies. At his age, his mental faculties will be declining quickly. By the end of his first term, he won’t be the same person you voted for. It’s one factor among many, but it can’t be ignored.”
We have one recent experience with an old president. Ronald Reagan was in his seventies when he served as president. Regardless of what you think of his overall performance, does anyone think his age had no impact on his decisions?
Before you jump on the age discrimination angle, we are not hiring the greeter at the neighborhood Wal-Mart. This is the person we expect (current prez excluded) to make critical decisions that impact the world. We need someone with full control of his faculties and bladder (again, current prez excluded).
If someone can be too young or too green, as many feel that Obama is, someone can be too old.