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I yearn for the days when a whipper-snapper like Ronald Reagan would run for president.
Reagan was sworn in the first time at 69 years of age, our nation’s oldest president at the time, and again four years later at 73.
It’s hard to believe we worried about Reagan’s age in 1980, because here we are with a presidential race shaping up between two men older than the nation of Israel.
President Joe Biden is our oldest president yet. He is 80 and would be 82 if sworn in a second time in 2025.
If he wins, Donald Trump would be 78.
Think about this. If Biden wins, he’d be 86 at the end of his term. How do you connect to the average American at an age when the average American has been dead for several years?
Life expectancy today in the United States is 73 for men and 79 for women.
An aura of, ‘Can someone remind me why I’m here?’
It seems to me many politicians are serving when they no longer have the mental acuity and physical stamina to perform the job.
Is there no one on staff to tell the emperor that he’s doddering?
Of course, I worry about Biden’s age.
But Trump is old, too.
If Trump wins — and he’s not in the slammer somewhere — he would be slightly older than Biden when Biden took office in January 2021.
But age is the least of my worries with Trump.
In addition, we have two U.S. senators older and more teetering.
Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is 81 and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California is 90.
They both are confused at times. They emit an aura of, “Can someone remind me why I’m here?”
McConnell has fallen often, and has twice frozen speechless during interviews; Feinstein has battled shingles this year, and seems frail and in a mental fog.
I hope they are not planning to take a run at South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond’s record of serving in the U.S. Senate until age 100.
Who’s older? Biden or Mick Jagger?
As a nation, we have set the minimums.
We require our presidents be at least 35. Our senators must be at least 30 and our House representatives need to be 25 or older.
But how old is too old? Where do we set the cap?
Are federal lawmakers like U.S. Supreme Court justices? Service until death?
The problem is this: How do you exclude the exception to the rule — the vigorous and sharp 80-year-old.
After all, look at the entertainment world. There are such people.
Willie Nelson is 90; Bob Dylan is 82; Paul McCartney is 81.
Quick trivia question: Who’s older? Joe Biden or Mick Jagger? It’s Jagger, by four months.
Springfield’s own Ned Reynolds is a robust 81.
Dolly Parton and Cher are both 77 — Trump’s age.
Bruce Springsteen is a force at 73 and Sting is vibrant at 71.
I don’t believe we should set age limits. Neither should we require a mental sharpness test like, say, making them take the ACT:
You need a composite score of 16 to serve in the House.
18 or higher to serve in the Senate.
At least a 20 to be president.
Why do they stay so long? The answer is simple
The greatest incentive to stay in a powerful office is that you’re already in that powerful office. With rare exceptions, incumbents win.
Prior to the 2022 midterm elections, there was much talk about how many seats Republicans would gain in the House and Senate.
But red and blue matters far less than incumbent versus challenger.
- All 29 Senate incumbents won.
- Of the 36 governors up for re-election, 35 won.
- Of the 419 House members who sought re-election, 410 won.
Political power comes with tenure. Incumbency matters.
Get used to it. It won’t be long before the White House has a stair lift going to the second-floor bedroom.
I can already imagine the the Secret Service agents walking alongside it.
This is Pokin Around column No. 133.