Contributor Post Created with Sketch. No Country For Old Men

 

TrumpOldRepublicans have youth on their side. That’s one of the many arguments offered for why the GOP may have a bit of an advantage in the next presidential election cycle. For the past quarter-century, we’ve abjured sexagenarian (stop laughing!) commanders-in-chief. Bill Clinton was 46 when he took the oath of office. George W. Bush was 54. Barack Obama was 47. There definitely seems to be a sweet spot.

Now compare the two presidential fields. Let us assume for a moment — “assume” understood here as “acknowledge the obvious reality” — that there are only three major potential candidates on the Democratic side: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden. Average age of that group? 71.

Now consider the Republican field. While there are plenty of entrants in their 60s (given the size of this field, there are plenty of entrants from every demographic), there is also a surplus of youth. Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and the recently departed Scott Walker are all in their 40s. Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and Rick Santorum are in their 50s.

On this measure (as, really, on every other) you’d rather be picking off the GOP menu than the progressive alternative. Fewer leftovers.

Here’s what I find a bit odd: conservatives have gotten a lot of mileage out of the notion that the 67-year-old Hillary Clinton is old and tired. And she’s the youngest of the major Democratic candidates. The one actuarial point that no one has bothered to make: at 70 years of age in January 2017, Donald Trump would be older on the date of his inauguration than any president in American history.

Now, granted, Trump presents a far more vigorous image than the “I have a 4:30 reservation at Denny’s” former Secretary of State. But wouldn’t this at least be a point of discussion with just about any other candidate?

Like a lot of other people, I thought Trump faded into the background during much of the last debate. I still suspect that owed primarily to the fact that the policy waters got too deep. But Trump was complaining the next day that the event went on far too long. Now, to be fair, he’s totally right about that — but If Hillary or Joe Biden responded that way, we’d be distributing photoshops of them using walkers the next day.

Maybe Trump was bored. Maybe he was in over his head. Or maybe — just maybe — he was running out of gas. After all, his campaign isn’t real sweat-intensive. This is a guy who does the sunday shows via telephone (I’m sure Fred Thompson is kicking himself for not realizing that was an option).

Does it matter? Well, perhaps, insofar as I think it’s safe to say that an older Trump will likely be an even coarser, less restrained Trump (getting old is like getting drunk: whether you intend to or not, you’re going to show people who you really are). But, thinking back to the days when the media was obsessed over the John McCain death pool, it’s a little curious that no one seems to raise this, no?

 

 

 

 

There are 40 comments.

  1. Mike Rapkoch Moderator

    (getting old is like getting drunk: whether you intend to or not, you’re going to show people who you really are).

    Yes, but I’m showing just how charming I am.

    But seriously. I’m a Rubio enthusiast, and one reason is his youthfulness and enormous energy. I used to be concerned that he looked too young to be credible. Now I see such conviction that he seems wise beyond his years. Which may indicate that wisdom is not just for the old.

    • #1
    • September 24, 2015, at 12:57 PM PDT
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  2. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    We need more debates where the Donald can embarrass himself and lose more support. Perhaps then he’ll lose interest and move on to the next shiny object.

    • #2
    • September 24, 2015, at 1:03 PM PDT
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  3. HeartofFLA Inactive

    Look at that face….

    No, seriously Troy…Donald’s hair looks a tad grayer today in the above picture. Did that happen overnight because he lost his…umm…mind due to Lowry’s comments?

    • #3
    • September 24, 2015, at 1:23 PM PDT
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  4. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    The King Prawn:We need more debates where the Donald can embarrass himself and lose more support. Perhaps then he’ll lose interest and move on to the next shiny object.

    For all the flack he’s getting I think Rich Lowry hit on the correct strategy. Donald Trump is a high school bully and when confronted they have a tendency to flounder and lash out. Let The Donald continue to beclown himself.

    • #4
    • September 24, 2015, at 1:35 PM PDT
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  5. Dave Sussman Contributor

    Not related but kinda: Fox Business Channel would not survive without catheters, walk-in baths, gold or any ad featuring Chuck Woolery.
    #funnybecauseitstrue

    • #5
    • September 24, 2015, at 1:39 PM PDT
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  6. Doctor Bass Monkey Inactive

    Trump is a oner in that none of the normal rules apply to him because of his celebrity. Whether that continues as the reality of a Trump presidency starts to sink in is another matter. His core seems to be low-information voters attracted by his celebrity, single-issue voters attracted by his stance on immigration, and protest voters tired of being taken for granted by the GOP. His age would not factor into any of their considerations. If the alternative is Harridan Hillary or #feelthebern, a number of the protest voters will realize the other protest options (Fiorina or Carson for outsiders, Cruz for insiders) are much better than the circus that would be a Trump presidency. Does anyone really want to see four years of that headache after eight years of Obama’s inanity? Fiorina or Cruz would actually shake things up. Trump would just make everyone miserable. If one of the protest options co-opted his immigration stance, he’d be left with LIVs which isn’t enough to win the nomination or general election.

    • #6
    • September 24, 2015, at 2:13 PM PDT
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  7. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Once Carly passes Trump up in the polls then the Donald will find a reason that he will have to leave. He is fine with being the leader, not sure how he would do being second place.

    • #7
    • September 24, 2015, at 2:14 PM PDT
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  8. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    My KPI (key performance indicator) for a candidate is “takes it to the Press”. Donald does that, so does Carly. Everyone else needs to do it too.

    • #8
    • September 24, 2015, at 2:42 PM PDT
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  9. Garret Hobart Inactive

    Mike Rapkoch:But seriously. I’m a Rubio enthusiast …

    Yesterday, I engaged a politically-connected, fiercely-committed Clinton supporter (he named his daughter “Hillary” … ) in serious debate about the 2016 presidential candidates.

    Well, “serious” might be overstating matters a bit: I was watching a baseball game and he is patently demented. Let’s just say we grunted back and forth about politics between chicken wings.

    Anyway, when the “conversation” turned to Marco Rubio, I was informed by this Clinton insider that the problem with Rubio is that he lacks the requisite ethics to hold high public office. I laughed for a solid half hour.

    • #9
    • September 24, 2015, at 2:45 PM PDT
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  10. SpiritO'78 Member

    I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s [age] and inexperience.

    –Hilary Clinton

    • #10
    • September 24, 2015, at 2:50 PM PDT
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  11. MarciN Member

    I understand the objections to candidates’ being in their sixties, but the working lifespan has changed such that it lasts until a person is 70. That’s why there is so much impetus to push up the retirement age. Seventies is not that old today. That’s a good thing.

    Life is like baseball. The more times you try to hit the incoming ball with your bat, the easier it gets to predict where the ball and your bat will connect, and the easier it gets to gauge how hard you need to hit the ball to get it out of the park.

    There is a great deal of truth to the notion that people become more efficient as they get older.

    As I got older, I began to realize that age was one of Reagan’s strengths. It gave him a confidence in being able to predict correctly the moves the Left would make. A younger person watching the Democrats might think, “That’s totally stupid. They aren’t going to do that.” An older person watching the Democrats thinks, “Here they go again. I need to stop them before they succeed.”

    Reagan had a been-there-done-that, you-can-trust-a-Democrat-to-be-a-Democrat attitude that was, I believe, a strength.

    I think Rubio might be too slow, might be too apt to give the opponent the benefit of the doubt in a spirit of respect that I think an older president might not.

    • #11
    • September 24, 2015, at 3:37 PM PDT
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  12. Misthiocracy ingeniously Member
    Misthiocracy ingeniously Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    At the risk of over-using one of my favourite infographics…

    Current US Population Pyramid

    … those two bulges are almost everything you need to know about political preferences right now.

    The bottom bulge is loud and aggressive, but has a pretty low voter turnout.

    The top bulge is obsessed with retirement and their own mortality, and has a high voter turnout.

    An elderly candidate that is vigorous and healthful helps to reassure them about their own impending decrepitude.

    • #12
    • September 24, 2015, at 3:38 PM PDT
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  13. MarciN Member

    Misthiocracy: The top bulge is obsessed with retirement and their own mortality, and has a high voter turnout. An elderly candidate that is vigorous and healthful helps to reassure them about their own impending decrepitude.

    There’s a lot of inaccurate stereotyping in that statement.

    Geesh.

    • #13
    • September 24, 2015, at 3:40 PM PDT
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  14. jetstream Inactive

    Whisky -overheard weekend at a hotel while drinking coffee at breakfast, a large table talking about Trump, paraphrase .. what I like about Trump is his determination to make America great again, said with the approval of the rest of the table.

    • #14
    • September 24, 2015, at 3:49 PM PDT
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  15. Misthiocracy ingeniously Member
    Misthiocracy ingeniously Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MarciN:

    Misthiocracy: The top bulge is obsessed with retirement and their own mortality, and has a high voter turnout. An elderly candidate that is vigorous and healthful helps to reassure them about their own impending decrepitude.

    There’s a lot of inaccurate stereotyping in that statement.

    Geesh.

    “Dad, you’ve done a lot of great things, but you’re a very old man, and old people are useless .” – Homer Simpson

    • #15
    • September 24, 2015, at 3:52 PM PDT
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  16. MarciN Member

    Misthiocracy:

    MarciN:

    Misthiocracy: The top bulge is obsessed with retirement and their own mortality, and has a high voter turnout. An elderly candidate that is vigorous and healthful helps to reassure them about their own impending decrepitude.

    There’s a lot of inaccurate stereotyping in that statement.

    Geesh.

    “Dad, you’ve done a lot of great things, but you’re a very old man, and old people are useless .” – Homer Simpson

    That’s a nice thing to say to someone.

    • #16
    • September 24, 2015, at 3:55 PM PDT
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  17. Dietlbomb Inactive

    Troy Senik, Ed.: The one actuarial point that no one has bothered to make: at 70 years of age in January 2017, Donald Trump would be older on the date of his inauguration than any president in American history.

    The greatest president of the last 40 years is the current record holder.

    • #17
    • September 24, 2015, at 3:56 PM PDT
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  18. HeartofFLA Inactive

    Whiskey Sam: His core seems to be low-information voters attracted by his celebrity, single-issue voters attracted by his stance on immigration, and protest voters tired of being taken for granted by the GOP.

    You nailed it. Unfortunately, for the GOP, the above summary represents a lot of people. That’s what happens when you ignore and anger your voters.

    What did Dubya say…fool me once, shame on me…don’t get fooled again.

    …or something like that.

    • #18
    • September 24, 2015, at 4:24 PM PDT
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  19. Leigh Member

    MarciN: I think Rubio might be too slow, might be too apt to give the opponent the benefit of the doubt in a spirit of respect that I think an older president might not.

    Incidentally, that’s one thing that I would say was absolutely not a weakness of Walker’s. I don’t think the three or whatever extra years made the difference, Milwaukee did.

    Quality and variety of experience matters too, and so does a person’s basic wisdom — their ability to make that experience profitable. And so does a knowledge of history.

    MarciN: Life is like baseball. The more times you try to hit the incoming ball with your bat, the easier it gets to predict where the ball and your bat will connect and the easier it gets to gauge how hard you need to hit the ball to get it out of the park.

    Absolutely. As spoken by one of those much younger people… but far enough removed from the defiant independence of early adulthood to see the truth of it. I just recently had a discussion with the little ones I teach about wisdom… about how a wise young person respects the wisdom of their elders.

    • #19
    • September 24, 2015, at 4:26 PM PDT
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  20. MarciN Member

    Sometimes I think that what younger people think of as sixties and seventies is actually more like eighties and nineties now. One of my neighbors is 75, and he gets more done each day than I do. He is such a nice guy that I can’t imagine our neighborhood without him or his wife, who is 75 also.

    When World War II came about, the military drafted all the young doctors, and all of the retired doctors in the United States went back to work.

    PS: Biden, Kerry, and the Clintons were amoral idiots at thirty and forty.

    • #20
    • September 24, 2015, at 4:50 PM PDT
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  21. Vald the Misspeller Inactive

    MarciN:

    Misthiocracy:

    MarciN:

    Misthiocracy: The top bulge is obsessed with retirement and their own mortality, and has a high voter turnout. An elderly candidate that is vigorous and healthful helps to reassure them about their own impending decrepitude.

    There’s a lot of inaccurate stereotyping in that statement.

    Geesh.

    “Dad, you’ve done a lot of great things, but you’re a very old man, and old people are useless .” – Homer Simpson

    That’s a nice thing to say to someone.

    Apparently Homer never heard of Soylent Green.

    • #21
    • September 24, 2015, at 5:01 PM PDT
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  22. Valiuth Member
    Valiuth Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Troy Senik, Ed.:Now, granted, Trump presents a far more vigorous image than the “I have a 4:30 reservation at Denny’s” former Secretary of State. But wouldn’t this at least be a point of discussion with just about any other candidate?

    Please, Clinton doesn’t eat at Denny’s. I don’t even think she has ever been in one if it wasn’t for a photo-op. She probably sups on a fine broth of vegetables and newt eyes before consuming the essence of a maiden to postpone death for another day.

    • #22
    • September 24, 2015, at 6:10 PM PDT
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  23. Hank Rearden Member

    Trump wins going away.

    The others will make good clerks in his admin.

    • #23
    • September 24, 2015, at 6:24 PM PDT
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  24. Man With the Axe Member

    Trump doesn’t seem old, because he doesn’t possess the wisdom that is supposed to come with age.

    • #24
    • September 24, 2015, at 8:41 PM PDT
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  25. MarciN Member

    This post has been bugging me all day.

    I would be a much president than Obama. I may be older than he is, but I am a whole lot smarter than he will ever be.

    So there. :) :)

    • #25
    • September 24, 2015, at 11:39 PM PDT
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  26. Troy Senik Contributor
    Troy Senik

    Just to be clear — because it feels like a few of you have been over-interpreting this post — this is analysis, not advocacy. I don’t find age (or, for that matter, any single variable) to be a terribly instructive metric in choosing presidents. But there is a clear penchant in recent years to elect younger candidates and a growing tendency to regard seniority as an electoral liability. I just find it curious that, for all the ink spilled about Trump, no one has brought this up.

    Also, while we’re clearing things up, I should probably cop to the fact that the title was totally Rob’s idea and that I stole it with his assent.

    • #26
    • September 24, 2015, at 11:47 PM PDT
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  27. Guruforhire Member

    Age is a strong but imperfect predictor of vitality.

    • #27
    • September 25, 2015, at 3:02 AM PDT
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  28. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    MarciN:I understand the objections to candidates’ being in their sixties, but the working lifespan has changed such that it lasts until a person is 70. That’s why there is so much impetus to push up the retirement age. Seventies is not that old today. That’s a good thing.

    Life is like baseball. The more times you try to hit the incoming ball with your bat, the easier it gets to predict where the ball and your bat will connect, and the easier it gets to gauge how hard you need to hit the ball to get it out of the park.

    There is a great deal of truth to the notion that people become more efficient as they get older.

    There is also the reality of aging. The baseball analogy shatters upon contact with reality, as you can pull up baseball stats and show that all hitters, at a certain point – some in their 20’s – start hitting less. Average and power drops, and then they stop playing. Most in their 30’s.

    I would also argue that the older you get, the less likely you are, in general, to try and learn new things. Being 70 might not be as “old” as it used to be; it does imply automatic vigor and good decision making ride along with gram-grams to the bingo hall.

    • #28
    • September 25, 2015, at 3:39 AM PDT
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  29. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    MarciN:Sometime I think that what younger people think of as sixties and seventies is actually more like eighties and nineties now. One of my neighbors is 75, and he gets more done each day than I do. He is such a nice guy that I can’t imagine our neighborhood without him or his wife, who is 75 also.

    When World War II came about, the military drafted all the young doctors, and all of the retired doctors in the United States went back to work.

    PS: Biden, Kerry, and the Clintons were amoral idiots at thirty and forty.

    And Hillary is a beacon of ethical excellence in her dotage?

    Wow. Also note that Biden, Kerry, and the Clintons are amoral idiots at their current ages, too.

    • #29
    • September 25, 2015, at 3:42 AM PDT
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  30. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    Troy Senik, Ed.:Just to be clear — because it feels like a few of you have been over-interpreting this post — this is analysis, not advocacy. I don’t find age (or, for that matter, any single variable) to be a terribly instructive metric in choosing presidents. But there is a clear penchant in recent years to elect younger candidates and a growing tendency to regard seniority as an electoral liability. I just find it curious that, for all the ink spilled about Trump, no one has brought this up.

    Also, while we’re clearing things up, I should probably cop to the fact that the title was totally Rob’s idea and that I stole it with his assent.

    It’s easier to steal things from older people. Once you get past the waving cane, they’re less likely to chase you.

    Trump’s age hasn’t come into play because he doesn’t appear to be that “old”, which seems to mean that we are less likely to consider someone as old if they display some level of vigor.

    It’s an intangible. Sanders is old but he usually projects something other than his actual age. I’m beginning to think Hillary does the full-bore smile all the time because if she’s not smiling, she looks like a Halloween decoration.

    • #30
    • September 25, 2015, at 3:47 AM PDT
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