A common statement I have heard, begun first by Chuck Norris in his campaign endorsement for Mike Huckabee, is that John McCain is simply too old to become president. I have thought about this a lot since I am aging myself. I sure hope, if my health is as good as McCain’s at 71, that I can still produce good work and be a leader in my own context. Aging does slow one down, certainly, but experience and age both offer many positive benefits not respected enough in the West. History bears out the fact that some of our greatest leaders were beyond 70 years of age when they did their finest work.
Today a column in the Wall Street Journal by Ryan Cole, a DC based writer, raised this question and answered it better than anything I have read to this point. Whether you like John McCain or not this kind of thinking should put to rest the age question if you have an open mind. If age is a real issue here then it works in reverse and Obama is just too young! I do not think Obama being 46 or McCain being 71 is a real issue at all and I hope we avoid this one as we get nearer the election. I doubt, however, that some can avoid trying to make this a political issue, given the way campaigns are run these days. And I doubt that we will not hear that Obama is not ready for prime time since he is too young. (This was used against JFK and worked to help him. Once in office the Russians tested him and found out he was a strong leader who would not flinch!) Frankly, we do not know who is and who isn’t a great leader until they lead and that is what it is. With McCain we have more of a public record, than with Obama, but age is not the real issue in the end.