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Presidential Qualifications: The Age Test

Presidential Qualifications: The Age Test

A lot has been said in the last few weeks about which Democratic candidate is or isn’t “qualified” to be president. But in assessing the qualifications for the nation’s highest and most demanding office, one has to look at physical qualifications as well as professional ones.

I’m sorry if this post isn’t Politically Correct or offends someone’s delicate sensibilities, but watching Sen. Bernie Sanders in last night’s Democratic debate, I couldn’t help but feel he looks too elderly and frail to take on the likes of Putin or Assad. We know what happened to FDR and Woodrow Wilson under the stress of the job, and they were much younger men than Sanders is now. And as pleasant and articulate as Jane Sanders is, I’m not sure she’s ready to run the country in her husband’s place.

I think the optimum age for a president is 50-64…old enough to be wise, but young enough to have the stamina the job requires. My preferred candidate this year, Hillary Clinton, is 68…a bit outside my parameters. If elected, then 69-year-old Clinton would become the second oldest president. Yes, that concerns me.

But at 75, Bernie Sanders would far eclipse both Hillary and Ronald Reagan, who was just shy of 70 the day he took office.

Why the country would consider putting a 75-year-old man in the one of the world’s most stressful jobs is beyond me. It’s simply too physically and mentally demanding a job for a person of that age, no matter how wonderful you think his ideas are. When we looked at Fidel Castro in his final years in power or Ayatollah Khomeini, we all thought how ridiculous it was for an old man to be running a country. Even Ronald Reagan was too old in his second term, and everyone (including his own staff and closest supporters) knew it.

I’m not saying anyone should vote for Ted Cruz or John Kasich simply because they are younger. Obviously, ideology, experience and temperament are equally important considerations. But you have to factor in the person’s physical ability to handle the job as well. Kobe Bryant can still knock down 60 points at thirty-seven, but you wouldn’t want him doing that job in his 40s or 50s. There are natural physical limitations for every job. And POTUS is not a job for a man ten years past retirement age. Bernie Sanders brings an important voice to our political discourse. But no one is immune to the physics of aging, even a guy who can whip 27,000 screaming college students into a frenzy.

At 75, he is simply too elderly to start a four year term as the leader of the free world. A new president needs to have the capacity to run for a second term, lest he be a lame duck from day one. And I don’t want my 2020 candidate poised to run the country well into his 80s.

So, yes, I wish Hillary Clinton were younger, too. But in a choice between these two Democratic candidates, who had a 93% identical voting record during their mutual senate years, I lean toward the one who not only has superior qualifications for the job, but is physically up to it as well. Clinton may not be as spry as she was eight years ago when she first ran for president, and clearly she’s had her health concerns, but all reports are that her health is good for her age and she comes across as robust and energized for the job ahead.

Is Sanders an impressive man for his age? Of course. But is he up to the most stressful job in government? After viewing last night’s debate, only a diehard Bernie Bro or a starry-eyed millennial would argue in the affirmative.

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