A Different Way of Thinking About Older Candidates for President

As humans live longer, Stephen L. Carter argues, we need to redefine “elderly”.

“Reagan, when he won his second term, became the oldest president ever relative to life expectancy, at 88%. This year’s leading Democratic candidates would indeed be older, but not by that much. On Election Day 2020, Bernie Sanders would just have turned 79, and Joe Biden would be just short of 78. For a 78-year-old male in the U.S., life expectancy is about 87.43, according to the Social Security Administration. For a 79-year-old male, the figure is 87.88. This means that Biden, if elected, would be at around 89.2% of his age-adjusted life expectancy; Sanders would be at around 89.9%. Either of them would beat Ronald Reagan’s record of 88% — but just barely.”

Provocative, even compelling argument, but I do not agree with his conclusion in part because he fails to mention Sander’s heart attack. Furthermore, why eliminate the pool by half by eliminating a gender? And then again by half by eliminating middle aged candidates in their physical and mental prime?

You Can’t Handle The Truth—No One Peaks In Their Late 70’s

No one. Nada. Zilch. Not writers, not mystics, not philosophers, most especially not politicians seeking the highest office in the land.

But our current political crisis is such that tens of millions of us will turn out to vote for lesser versions of whichever old candidate wins the Democratic primary.

Grading the Demos

Biden. “C-“. Came across as desperate. Clearly “his people” told him it’s now or never. Kept saying, “I’m the only guy who. . . ” Once referred to the Obama Administration as “My administration”. The repeated references to the past, coupled with his age, makes one wonder why we should put our future in his hands. Peeved at the moderators for slighting him. Reminded me of a once great athlete unable to walk away from the game.

Bloomberg. “D”. What a waste of $419m, the amount he’s spent on on t.v. ads so far. Of course, to him, that’s parking ticket money. I would love to see him debate Trump because he’s so good at trolling him and he’s clearly not afraid of him, but after he was eviscerated by Warren, the odds of him winning the nomination are about the same as me. His not crying or disappearing during one of the commercial breaks saved him from an “F”.

Buttigieg. “C”. Seemed resigned to not winning the nomination, but continued trying to position himself as the sensible alternative. Did a good job of repeating the $29,000 line, the amount at which people who support Sanders “Medicare For All” will see their taxes increase. Smiled a fair amount. His line about “living in his one house” in Indiana was excellent. Obviously thinks his geography is a distinct advantage, but has not acknowledged how it might limit his appeal to people of color. Tried to be mean to Klobuchar on her Mexico faux pax, but he’s not a natural cabrón. Should’ve shaved beforehand. Reminded me of a young athlete who may be great some day.

Klobuchar. “C”. Seemed resigned to not winning the nomination, but continued trying to position herself as the only person who can beat Trump because of her winning record. Came across like a car in a Minnesota blizzard with its back wheels spinning, spinning, spinning. Displayed an impressive array of “Oh shit, you did NOT just say that” facial expressions when attacked by Buttigieg and Warren. Gets credit for a sense of humor (“Post-it notes were invented in my State”) and poise when under attack. Sadly, she is the one candidate who is consistently cut off by moderators.

Sanders. “B”. Didn’t do anything obvious to slow his momentum. Sticked to his now predictable talking points. Handled the Culinary Workers Union controversy adequately. Avoided front-runner attacks thanks to Bloomberg’s presence. Someone from his team should send Bloomberg a $25 Starbucks gift certificate. How many people, like me, googled his age mid-way through? He’ll be 79 on election day. His campaign is an interesting political science experiment. Can people handle the truth about our country’s decline? About how social mobility has grinded to a halt? About how the quality of life is better in some other countries? That we’re lagging behind Denmark? Sadly, I don’t think so.

Warren. “A”. Yeah, I’m biased since I’ve thought she would make the best President all along. I loved the FIREY comeback. Her evisceration of Bloomberg had to make Trump nervous. She was the most prepared, most intelligent, most detailed, most focused of the candidates. But she wasn’t just flame throwing. Her defense of Klobuchar for not knowing Mexico’s president’s name (Andrés Manuel López Obrador) was one of her strongest moments. Girl power and all that. Reminded me of a great athlete in her prime.

 

Thank You For Being Late—Buyer Beware

Excellent take down of Thomas Friedman’s newest NY Times best seller by Justin Peters of Slate.

Fav pgraph:

“Thank You for Being Late was put to bed well before the presidential election, and throughout the text Friedman makes occasional dismissive references to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. (Ha ha, remember those clowns? Good thing technocratic rationality prevailed!) Near the end of the book, Friedman presents an earnest 18-point plan for governmental reform in the age of accelerations; a platform for the “Making the Future Work for Everybody” party, as he puts it. Thomas Friedman doesn’t know a damn thing about the future. Despite all of his self-serving rhetoric about necessities and inevitabilities, he still couldn’t recognize that Trumpism is in part a consequence of thought leadership, of rampant globalization with blithe disregard for its domestic casualties, of having your head jammed so far up the future’s ass that you’ve completely lost touch with the present.”

If you’re looking for something better to read, I recommend Hillbilly Elegy: Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by JD Vance. In this day and age, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it has become a political beach ball, batted around by Republicans and Democrats to argue for conservative and liberal social and economic policies. It’s Vance’s story of growing up in a dysfunctional family in Kentucky and Ohio, two states I grew up in. Here’s an idea, you can’t tell a person their story is “wrong”. Yes, if you must, you can tell them the conclusions they draw from it are misguided, but how about waiting awhile.

Alibaba, can I count Hillbilly Elegy as a 2017 book if I started it in the final days of 2016? What do your “book list” rules say about that? I also just finished the sup short collection of essays by Oliver Sacks that you gave me for Christmas. Does the fact that I enjoy reading and thinking about how people approach the end of life mean I’m old? How ’bout waiting awhile to answer that.

I just started a bruiser, Empire of Things by Frank Trentmann. Hoping to finish before UCLA cuts down the nets in Phoenix and/or JSpieth birdies #12 at Augusta National on Sunday. Also hoping everyone forgets I’m reading this so no one asks how it’s coming. #toomuchpressure

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