When leaders are really, really, really old

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Since I posted about John McCain being too old—if not to work, then to lead—I feel it’s only sporting for me to add what I think about the upcoming Senate elections in my home state of New Jersey.

Frank Lautenberg is a Senator up for reelection. After serving for 18 years, he retired in 2000…only to run again in 2002. At age 78.

Lautenberg seems like a good-enough pol. He plays on my team, and over the years he’s demonstrated his commitment to issues important to my state. Lately he’s legislated on global warming and tightening the security on the porous ports of our shoreline. He’s the son of immigrants, a veteran, and a former corporate warrior (he was CEO of a company called Automatic Data Processing).

He’s also 84. Let me repeat that. He was born in 1924.

Yes, yes, I know everyone ages differently. It’s not like I’ve played chess with the guy; he may well be sharper than a switchblade, for all I know. But that’s just it. I’m a voter, and all I have access to is the data: his voting record, his history, his age. And I think 84 is too old to take up one of only two seats in a governmental body that decides about the welfare of my state and my country. Thing is, Lautenberg’s not even the oldest geezer in the Senate. Older still are Robert Byrd of West Virginia (age 90) and Ted Stevens of Alaska (who’ll be 85 later this year).

So tell me: am I practicing age discrimination by factoring in the age of my governmental representative? And how come all the old pols are male? Does McCain’s age bother you? Here’s McCain on SNL making the case for electing a president based on, not despite, his age: