Is 80 the new 70?
It was kind of curious when someone in popular culture a while back suggested that people reaching a milestone birthday were seemingly getting younger rather than advancing in the other direction as had been the case for eons. I don’t exactly recall when folks began using the rationalization, but 40 was suddenly deemed the new 30, then 50 became the new 40, 60 was said to be the new 50 and so on. While it’s true that life expectancy has increased dramatically over the past century -- except until recently, when longevity in the United States actually declined by a couple years -- there was no scientific basis whatsoever for claiming that a forty-year-old turned ten years younger in an instant.
But it felt good to say so nonetheless, and definitely made the recipient of the compliment feel better as well.
When it comes to politics, however, the newly realized youth concept is being sorely tested these days. Similar to the jump in life expectancy, with politicians in Washington running for office and being reelected for decades, the average age of those serving in both chambers of Congress has seemingly increased dramatically. Peruse the accumulated years of the leadership of both parties and you’ll see what I mean. Everyone knows senile president Joe Biden is 79-years-old (and acts like he’s twenty years older). Vice President cackling Kamala Harris is 57. Former president Donald Trump is 75 and will turn 76 in less than a month. Meanwhile, Mike Pence will turn 63 in a few weeks.
In Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi turned 82 years young two months ago. The Democrats’ second in party command, Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, is over half a year older than Pelosi and will reach 83 next month (for what it’s worth, Hoyer is pretty spry for his number, much more so than the feisty but frail San Fran Nan). Third in party line, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, will turn 82 in July.
On the Senate side, Majority Leader “Chucky” Schumer is “only” 71. But Majority Whip Dick Durbin is 77. President pro tempore of the senate, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, is 82, but he’s been in the old boys’ club since January of 1975. Leahy’s retiring this year, probably because he sees the upcoming GOP wave forming and doesn’t want to go back to being in the minority again. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is 80. Senate Minority Whip, John Thune of South Dakota, is the youngster of the upper chamber leadership at 61. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is 57. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise is a year younger than McCarthy at 56.
In other words, every single one of them could’ve retired at 55 like some “normal” people with means to do so choose to do.
I present the leadership’s ages to prove a point more than make an argument that most of them are too old to function in their jobs. It’s arguable that all but Biden and Pelosi and McConnell qualify for a ten year “the new” xx designation. But still there are those in the nation’s capital who suggest it’s time for an actuarial changing of the guard.
“Former White House adviser David Gergen said … that he does not believe President Biden should run for president again, noting his age.
“’We have an election coming up in 2024, in which is very possible that we will have Donald Trump facing off against Joe Biden. If one of those people wins the presidency, he will be governing while he’s in his 80 year … age,’ Gergen, a senior political analyst for CNN, said on CNN’s ‘New Day.’
“’We’ve never seen anything like that before. And frankly, I think it’s a real risk. You know, I just turned 80, and I can just tell you John, you lose a step. Your judgment is not quite as clear as it was. There’s a variety of other things you can’t do much about and to put somebody in that office with those kinds of vulnerabilities and giving them four years, we don’t know where things will go.’”
By the sound of it, Gergen doesn’t quite believe that 80 is the new 70. Ronald Reagan was 69 (granted, for a couple more weeks) when he recited his oath of office in January of 1981 and transferred power at age 77, noticeably aged in those eight years of intense stress where he took on Democrats and Soviets (the same thing these days?) and set in motion the events that ended the Cold War without a shot being fired.
But Reagan was cut from different cloth than the current generation of leaders, many if not most of whom started their political journey in their relative youth (or at least middle age). Joe Biden, for example, was into his eighth year as a Delaware senator when Reagan was inaugurated. As alluded to above, Patrick Leahy was only two years behind Biden. Nancy Pelosi didn’t head to Washington until deep into The Gipper’s second term (she assumed office on June 2, 1987), but she also was from a political family and knew the workings of the swamp quite well. Nancy’s father had served in Congress and also had been mayor of Baltimore, Pelosi’s home city. Therefore, the woman was innately well-versed in what it took to be a sleazebag liberal politician.
Mitch McConnell has also been in federal office since the mid-80’s when the Kentuckian was first elected to the senate (in 1984). But “Cocaine Mitch” has been a swamp dweller nearly as long as Joe Biden has. According to Wikipedia, “In October 1974, McConnell returned to Washington to fill a position as Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President Gerald Ford, where he worked alongside Robert Bork, Laurence Silberman, and Antonin Scalia.” One wonders why the liberty-centered philosophies of those great men didn’t rub off on Mitch, but the moral of the story is that he’s been around a LONG time. “Chucky” Schumer joined the House of Representatives in 1981, which means he technically was haunting Washington before Reagan moved into the White House. “Chucky” worked in the House for eighteen years before moving to the senate side in 1999 after defeating incumbent Republican senator Al D’Amato in 1998 in New York.
Of course, Donald Trump may be in the same or similar age group as the large contingent of DC establishment swamp reptiles, but he’s only been a politician for a relatively meager (almost) seven years. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, but the Trump name has been part of the American popular lexicon since the late 70’s, first as a wealthy real estate developer then as a tabloid celebrity and eventually, a reality TV star and host.
So, in essence, every last one of the top echelons of Washington political leaders today is more than well-known and… for lack of a better way to put it, old. Imagine if a baseball team kept its starting line-up for four (or more) decades. I’m guessing the season ticket holders and fans would be screaming and yelling for new blood to bat, run, pitch and catch.
Football Hall-of-famer-to-be quarterback Tom Brady retired earlier this year for about fifteen minutes -- or so it seemed, then un-retired -- but even he has “only” been around since the beginning of this century. To put things in perspective, Bill Clinton was president when Brady was drafted and the undisputed GOAT didn’t start his first NFL game until three weeks after the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
In contrast, when Joe Biden began his stint in Washington, NASA was still sending astronauts to the moon. (Note: the final Apollo mission, number 17, was in December of 1972, a month after Biden was elected but had not yet been sworn-in) Think about it -- senile Joe’s slithered in the DC swamp since well before the Vietnam war ended.
That’s a lot of memos, speeches, campaigning, fundraising, advisor meetings, consultants, patronage seekers, staffers, interns, a ton of plagiarizing and lying, public appearances and a lot of back slappin’, hair sniffin’, child repellin’, nude swimmin’, brain surgery recoverin’, excuse makin’ for Hunter, bashin’ opponents and smilin’ for the cameras, ain’t it?
No wonder senile Joe’s lost a step -- or three. The sheer boredom of staring out the window during his ultra-redundant AMTRAK commute from his Delaware home to DC and back all those years must have taken its toll somewhere along the line. What about all the monotonous committee work? Or the late nights waiting for votes? Or the tedious budget negotiations? Or the trips to the White House during boss “The Big O’s” presidency, scrapping for the slightest bit of attention and approval from the man at the top?
David Gergen is most definitely right -- Joe Biden shouldn’t run for reelection in 2024. His age and obvious cognitive deterioration are only one part of the equation, however. Senile Joe’s thousands of hours of idle (translation: dreary) thought have dulled his wits more than anything else. What has the man ever done besides push papers, criticize, complain and babble endlessly, ride trains or grovel to campaign contributors? Has he ever been involved in the management of a business or signed a paycheck for an employee (other than household servants or for someone to help Hunter run his sleazy scams)?
To Joe and most if not all of the DC swamp establishment elite ruling class, 80 is not the new 70. Nearly every single one of them has dullness of the brain because of the ceaseless hours of procedure and sloth, the offshoots of having too much time on their hands with too little to do but make substance-free conversation and read opinion pieces about themselves from liberal media sources.
To my keen eye and legal training, I’d say Joe’s got an acute case of “Swamp dulled brain syndrome”, for which there is no cure and eventually leads to advanced dementia and commitment to a care facility.
While it’s true that Donald Trump is a member of the same age group, his decades of stimulating brainwork have kept him “fresh” beyond his years. The man is so involved with thinking that he rarely sleeps and keeps his staff busy with a constant stream of new ideas and plans for the future.
Senile Joe Biden is so yesterday. His usefulness as a leader expired long ago. Joe is like a milk carton with a sell-by date from 1989. To him, 80 is definitely not the new 70. It’s more like 80 is the new 100. Here’s hoping that Biden and all of the Washington political class continues to live long lives -- but their retirement parties are long, long overdue.
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