How old is too old?

Feb 19, 2024
Source: AP PHOTO.

If President Biden is re-elected in November, he will be 86 by the time he leaves the White House.

Right now, he looks almost certain to be the Democratic nominee for the 2024 US elections to face off against Donald Trump.

Biden is already the oldest-ever commander-in-chief and, at this stage, unless he decides not to run, the Democrats would have an extremely difficult task replacing him. Trump and Biden will be the oldest Presidential campaign combatants. They will break the record they set in the 2020 election.

My mother-in-law is 85 this year. She lives with us, and I can confirm that she has just added a morning nap to her already busy regime of afternoon naps, and pre-dinner naps. Apart from her struggling to make it up the 11 stairs in our house; having just had cataract surgery to fix her fading eyesight; and always having the television turned to 11 so she can hear it; she is in great shape. But would I be comfortable with her holding the most powerful position in the free world? No.

At times she struggles to work the buttons on the television remote control. Heaven forbid if she had her chubby arthritic fingers on the button of a nuclear weapon. Even she laughs at Biden and Trump’s multitude of very public gaffs. Especially when, as he did this month, Biden confuses Egypt with Mexico. Or when Biden gets the French leaders Macron and Mitterrand mixed up. Or when he told the world that he’d been recently chatting with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, despite the fact that Kohl died in 2017. He actually meant he’d been talking with Angela Merkel. How can we forget him mixing up the Iraq and Ukrainian wars; or calling British Primer Minister Rishi Sunak “Mr President”; or him falling asleep at COP26 in Scotland in 2021.

Maybe, like my mother-in-law, he doesn’t believe climate change is a real thing, so he just thought he would catch up on some sleep, rather than listen to that “save the planet” garbage. It seems that America also now thinks Biden is too old. A new ABC/Ipsos poll showed that nine out of 10 Americans believe that President Biden is too old to serve a second term.

Amongst all Americans, more than 86 per cent who were surveyed, said they thought Biden was too old for four more years. In the poll, 73 per cent of people who identified as Democrats, said his age was a barrier to re-election. The only good news was that poll respondents also thought that Trump, the most likely (or soon the only) Republican nominee, was also too old. Trump is 77, born in 1946. The words Trump and controversy have almost been interchangeable throughout his entire life. If he’s not making outrageous statements about science, he’s putting his hands in inappropriate places.

Trump currently faces 91 felony counts across two state courts and two different federal districts, any of which could send him to jail if successfully prosecuted. He’s also involved in a civil suit in New York that could force drastic changes to his business empire, including closing down its operations in his home state. The Supreme Court has heard a case seeking to disqualify him. In most likelihood, the criminal and civil cases will play out during the final days of his 2024 election campaign.

Trump and Biden are two of the three oldest men to have ever served as President of the United States. The other person in this trio is Ronald Reagan, who was 77 when he left the Oval Office.

America’s Teen Vogue magazine recently explained to its readers that the country was governed by a gerontocracy – which means governed by the elderly. Other countries that fit this description include The Vatican, Iran, and those countries that are ruled by communists. The median age in America is 38.9. The median age of those elected to the House of Representatives is 58 and The Senate is 64. There are 20 people in Congress older than 80, and a local Capitol Hill pharmacist caused some waves recently when he told reporters that he was dispensing Alzheimer’s medication to several sitting members.

There have been calls in America to limit the age at which politicians can stay in the job. After all, federal law enforcement officers can only work until they are 57. Park rangers have an upper limit of the age to which they can work. But politicians, those people who are making important decisions about the country and the world’s future, can go on forever. So why do politicians think they can go on forever when they voted to set an age limit for serving federal law enforcement officers? And why do they want to stay in power? Surely, it’s not the money.

Is it ego? Or is it a bid to stay relevant to the conversation? Perhaps they are somehow trying to defy the ageing process. However, I think the bigger question at the moment is: How can these two be the best candidates available to run the free world? Surely, in a country of almost 332 million people Biden and Trump can’t be the cream that has risen to the top. American talk show hosts make jokes about the frailties of Trump and Biden each and every night on their shows. Surely Americans realise that the rest of the world is also now laughing at you over your political choices.

We used to look to America for leadership, now we look on for comic relief. As one of my golf mates said the other day, we could be witnessing the fall of a superpower. Hopefully, we enjoy the show!

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