The Power of the Old (COLUMN BY DAVID NEESE) – Trentonian
“Old Guys Rule!”
So says the T-shirt an old man wears as he stands in front of the bar.
“And you?” it is asked. “Do you govern under your own roof? Now tell the truth.
“Well no.” said the old man thinking. “I’m number three, actually. Behind the woman and the dog…. A distant number three, ”he adds after reflection.
The old guys might not exactly be in power, but they’re certainly prevalent in the news, with Joe Biden nearing 80 and falling down the stairs from Air Force I and his bike.
Old maids are also making headlines. Don’t forget the Machiavellian ditz, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, second in the line of presidential succession, four points plus two, because Abe Lincoln could politely count his age.
Republicans like to point to Biden as a cataclysmic codger, but they’ve also had their elders with challenges.
Indeed, you could say they pioneered the concept of Old Guys Rule, first with former general, Ike Eisenhower, and then with former Gipper, Ronald Reagan. The two must have wondered as president if their fastball had lost its zip.
Wherever you look in Washington today, you see men getting out of big black chauffeured vehicles. Today’s top Republican on Capitol Hill, Senator Mitch “The Turtle” McConnell, is on his 81st lap around the sun.
Then there’s the Great Orange Menace, at 76, not spring chicken itself, as they say.
Abundant in girth, the hyperactive, pugnacious, insult-throwing Trump, scolding Big Macs and guzzling sodas contrary to all health advice, seems to defy actuarial charts.
“If only the aging process imposed constraints on this fool,” says one detractor.
But alas, the years only seem to make Trump more obnoxious and combative – something like how the Greek mythological figure Antaeus grew stronger in battle when he was knocked to the ground.
The call of the elders clearly indicates a kind of geezerarchy or gerontocracy.
The nation’s law enforcement chief, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, is heading towards 70, and the Senate’s top dog, Democrat Chuck Schumer, isn’t a puppy either at 71 .
Grandmother-like Treasury Secretary Janet Yelin, 76, is given the mission of slaying the dragon of inflation and financing the gargantuan national debt.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell knocks on the 70-year-old’s door. Senior Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is 74.
Former President Jimmy Carter, 97, and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, 99, are on the sidelines but prone, as the old are, to ring the bell whenever the mood strikes them.
Bill Clinton, soon to be 76, and his wife Hillary, 74, also like to pop in occasionally, reminding people they still exist. (Obama,
still wet behind the ears, comparatively speaking, is old enough for AARP at 60 but not quite eminence-grie status yet.)
Old age is a subject on which I have some personal knowledge, should I say in full transparency.
The year I was born, the Reds won the World Series from the Tigers in seven years, Indiana beat Kansas for the college basketball national championship, Hemingway released his novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls, and the hot names on Broadway was Cole Porter and Irving Berlin.
In the years since, the elderly have become a powerful political demographic, and I include myself in the ranks of the most feared interest groups – the “seniors”. No one dares play a joke on us.
Uh, well, at least so far they haven’t.
Joe Biden with his squinty Mr. Magoo routine and his nose-dived poll numbers may be changing all that. There are open grumblings now that Biden’s tenure is starting to look like a dumpster fire and his age is a factor.
Being “an old man,” as Biden puts it of himself, he has numbers on his side — apparently. There are 49 million seniors in America, and their ranks are growing rapidly.
From 2010 to 2020, the ranks of people aged 65 to 74 increased by 34%, while whippersnappers aged 18 and under decreased by 1.5%.
Thanks to Social Security and Medicare, the elderly are by far the most voracious consumers of taxpayers’ money, although they are quick to point out that they have paid into these programs. for decades.
Having time off – not long-term, perhaps, but short-term – geezers vote. And they do it in large numbers. And they have, arguably, Washington’s most feared lobby — the 38 million-member AARP, which shrewdly enlists those over 50 to boost its ranks.
But do such numbers increase Joe Biden’s prospects? Or undermine them? Questionable.
Biden likes to take a quick jog across the White House lawn to the Marine 1 helicopter, just to show off his vigour. But are the president’s colleagues impressed?
Maybe not. One thing old people know well is being old. Many can see Biden taking his little jog and saying, “Boy, he’s going to be in pain tomorrow.”
Fox News avidly chronicles Biden’s blunders and fumbling, gleefully attributing his misrepresentations and missteps to his over-the-hill status. But even Democrats are starting to factor in Biden’s advanced mileage.
Offering a kind of compromise assessment on the age issue, Atlantic magazine, a reliable source of progressive doctrine, recently said that Biden is okay for now but definitely not for a second term.
“He’s too old,” writer Mark Leibovich said, cutting to the chase.
His Atlantic article waved a snarling finger at Republican “smears” regarding Biden’s age. Depictions of him as “a spoiled old puppet” are “rubbish” and best ignored, Leibovich advised.
Whereupon, however, the writer began ticking off a list of damning cognitive dysfunctions — barely a vote of confidence — including, he said, Biden’s propensity to blank names, lose his train of thought, to merge even with his teleprompter lines and deviate from the script to rambling nonsense.
It boils down to this: Democrats are in a difficult position that many American families know all too well. How to tell Grandpa that he has to stop driving?