Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Are Bernie and Biden Too Old to Run for President?

A NEW GERONTOCRACY?

ARE Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden too old to run for President?

Bernie was born September 8, 1941, which makes him 78 years old as of this writing. He'll be 79 when he takes office, if he wins.

Joe Biden was born November 20, 1942. He's 77, will be 78 when/if he takes office. Either would be the oldest President ever-- and it wouldn't be close.

(Both men pre-date Baby Boomers.)

By point of comparison, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are five years younger now than Sanders, many years after they left office.

Bill Clinton first won election for President in 1992. Bush, in 2000. (A more recent former President, Barack Obama, who also served two terms, is a full twenty years younger than Bernie Sanders.)

The oldest President ever was Ronald Reagan, who was closing in on 78 years of age the day he left office, after a full two terms as President. Which was younger than Bernie Sanders is today.

If Bernie wins, he'll be 83 after one term; 87 after two. Unexplored territory for the most stressful job on the planet.

ANOTHER GERONTOCRACY

The most notorious recent gerontocracy was that during the latter days of the Soviet Union. Decrepit men running a decrepit empire.

How old were they?

Brezhnev died in office at age 75. Andropov died in office at age 69. Chernenko died in office at age 73. All younger than both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are now.

THE COUNTER ARGUMENT

Then again, maybe Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are the Tom Brady and Drew Brees of the political world. Have to give them credit for ignoring mere numbers and chronology.

Moses, after all, lived to 120.

ANALOGIES

Joe Biden, in this person's opinion, was pushed out there as an alternative to Bernie Sanders, whose Marxist beliefs scare many people. The support for Sanders, especially from young people-- particularly college-type young people; the lumpen intelligentsia-- seems genuine.

Which strikes me as one of history's hopeless causes, propelled by emotion, not facts or logic. (Which is ironic about self-designated hard-eyed materialists.)

One could call it "The Collective Dream." Movements that are beyond quixotic.

Examples from history include the later Crusades, or the several Polish rebellions in the 18th and 19th centuries, or the Sioux Ghost Dance at Wounded Knee in 1890. All fights against overwhelming odds. All doomed to failure.

Another example comes from sports, in the doomed comeback of former Heavyweight Boxing Champion James J. Jeffries out of soft retirement, as the "Great White Hope" pushed in the ring against Jack Johnson.


Even though Jeffries hadn't had a fight in five years, and had ballooned to over 300 pounds before beginning training for the match, and had not one tune-up fight, his optimistic backers (including Jack London) assured themselves he was unbeatable, and would surely win. They saw what they wanted to see in the former champ-- a campaign based on hope-- not what was actually there. (Jeffries was knocked out.)

I see the same phenomenon in the current campaign of Bernie Sanders. But I could be wrong.

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