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Contending with the issue of age

Susan Estrich on

Is there such a thing as being too old to be president? In the fall of 1984, in his closing statement in the first presidential debate, then-President Ronald Reagan seemed to lose his way on a California highway. That's right; he was talking on and on about this trip on a California highway, and it didn't end anywhere, except with the red buzzer. And for the first time in what seemed to be a landslide waiting to happen, The Wall Street Journal whispered what everyone else was thinking: Is Reagan too old to be president?

The story lasted until the next debate, when Reagan diffused the issue with his characteristic humor, pledging that he was not going to make an issue of his "opponent's youth or inexperience."

I doubt today's press corps would have been so forgiving.

Ronald Reagan was 73 years old, having been elected at age 69.

Bernie Sanders is 78.

Plenty of people have heart problems. Plenty of people live with stents. Stent procedures like Bernie has had are very common. They're not fatal, not dangerous, and people work for many years. You'll hear plenty of people from his campaign (and Joe Biden's) say this is nothing to worry about. Even so ...

 

Plenty of people live productive lives in their 70s and 80s and beyond.

What they don't do is run for president of the United States at the age of 78.

God bless him. Sanders looks old and sounds old and needs the kind of heart procedures older people need because -- God bless him -- he is old.

Which is not -- NOT -- the reason he won't be president.

...continued

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