Smartphones and social media have made it nearly impossible for politicians to hide their flaws or cover their “senior moments” these days, as evidenced — much to the chagrin of the White House — by the nearly endless stream of viral videos in which the president of the United States looks lost, sounds confused or makes statements that have White House press secretary Jen Psaki racing to walk back.
The fact is, the nation’s long-serving leaders are getting old — too old, according to many, to continue making tough decisions under unfathomable pressures that directly affect the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans.
It’s time, according to an increasing number of political pundits, to have a serious conversation about age limits for politicians.
“A YouGov poll from January shows that 58% of Americans want an age limit for elected officials — forcible retirement at age 70,” journalist Maureen Callahan writes in an opinion piece for the New York Post. “If something like that passed now, 71% of U.S. Senators would be out of a job.”
Callahan points to other professions which cap the age of their workers and makes the argument that we need the same in D.C.
“Commercial airline pilots are forced to retire at age 65. Air traffic controllers must retire at age 56,” writes Callahan. “Yet we have a 79-year-old in the White House who, on any given day, thinks that his VP is his wife, or that his wife is his sister and his sister is the first lady, or that Michelle Obama is the vice president or that Barack Obama is Donald Trump and vice versa.”
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) April 15, 2022
And the problem isn’t contained to the Oval Office, or even to this administration.
“Strom Thurmond retired at 100 years of age, his complete out-to-lunch-ness an open secret on Capitol Hill,” Callahan writes. “By the end of his second term, Ronald Reagan was falling asleep in cabinet meetings and so inattentive that his aides broached invoking the 25th Amendment with Reagan’s chief of staff.”
At age 88, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) appears to be struggling with similar problems.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, in a recent extended conversation with the senator, lawmakers “had to reintroduce themselves to Feinstein multiple times during an interaction that lasted several hours.”
Citing an anonymous “California Democrat in Congress,” the Chronicle details the noticeable decline in Feinstein’s cognitive abilities.
“Rather than delve into policy, Feinstein, 88, repeated the same small-talk questions, like asking the lawmaker what mattered to voters in their district, the member of Congress said, with no apparent recognition the two had already had a similar conversation,” the Chronicle recounts.
“I have worked with her for a long time and long enough to know what she was like just a few years ago: always in command, always in charge, on top of the details, basically couldn’t resist a conversation where she was driving some bill or some idea,” the lawmaker said. “All of that is gone.”
“She was an intellectual and political force not that long ago, and that’s why my encounter with her was so jarring,” the lawmaker continued, adding, “Because there was just no trace of that.”
In an update to the story, editorial board leaders at the Chronicle spoke to Feinstein, Thursday, and the senator stood her ground.
“I meet regularly with leaders,” Feinstein said. “I’m not isolated. I see people. My attendance is good. I put in the hours.”
“We represent a huge state,” Feinstein continued. “And so I’m rather puzzled by all of this.”
Sen. Feinstein, pushing 90 next term, says she will NOT go away, despite fellow Dems’ fears she’s not fit https://t.co/3KlScG8i6e
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) April 15, 2022
But for Callahan, it’s hardly a mystery.
“Does it shock anyone, really, to learn that 88-year-old veteran US Sen. Diane Feinstein is exhibiting signs of dementia?” Callahan asked her readers.
And in an age dominated by Big Tech, Callahan wonders if the current Congressional crowd is the best group to handle the many problems and challenges social media adds to our global community.
“Who really thinks that a cohort of 70- and 80-somethings — led by Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Grassley, Mitch McConnell, Pat Leahy, Jim Inhofe and Richard Shelby — are best equipped to deal with this?” Callahan writes.
“Pelosi, Grassley and Shelby are fast approaching age 90,” she continues. “It’s not healthy — nor fair to the generations behind them — for the nation to remain in these arthritic clutches.”
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