November 29, 2021
News Opinion

MICHAEL WOLSEY: Time for these golden oldies to leave the stage

I am a couple of years younger than Donald Trump and a year older than Elizabeth Warren (70), who may replace him as US president at the next election.

Since we are at an age when every month counts, I am happy to declare myself considerably younger than Joe Biden (77), the leading Democrat contender, and Michael Bloomberg (also 77), the billionaire who has recently joined the race.

By this late-life reckoning, I am considerably younger than Bernie Sanders (78) who is making a second bid for the White House, despite the failure of his first attempt, a campaign which helped wreck the chances of Hilary Clinton (72).

And I am a positive youngster compared to Nancy Pelosi (79), Trump’s chief tormentor and, arguably, the most skilful politician in the USA.

Ms Pelosi and I have something in common – neither of us intends to fight the next US presidential election; we are too old for the job. In my case, there are a few other barriers,  but I am, most certainly, too old to run the most powerful country on earth, or any other country for that matter.

Some mornings I have trouble running a hot shower.

I lose my glasses and forget the times of trains. And those aren’t the only old-person traits I exhibit. I can’t work remote controls, I dislike social media and I shun self-service counters in supermarkets.

Clearly President Trump has no trouble working social media but I have not the slightest doubt that he, and the rest of the wrinkly band, share similar symptoms of age.

I’m not looking for sympathy. I am well and perfectly happy. I like to walk and I swim every day. I like to cook and to eat, to travel and to meet, to chat with friends, read books and drink wine.

I am happy to inflict my wit, wisdom and experience on you, dear reader – and I hope I still have something to contribute to the national debate. But, while my experience is useful, it was shaped in another era. It should add to the debate, not lead it.

I love politics and arguments that centre on current affairs, but the idea that I would spend all day, every day, on crucial matters of state, with lives hanging on my word, is simply ludicrous. Even if I had the inclination, I do not have the energy.

I am too old. And so are all the people I have named. They are all too old to be President of the United States – and that includes the man who is now doing the job and who hopes still to be doing it when he is almost 80.

This refusal to leave the stage was once the mark of dictators. Stalin died in office at the age of 75, Mao Zedong at 83 and the Emperor Hirohito at 88.

American presidents have tended to be a little older than their European counterparts, but not by much. Ronald Reagan was 77 when he left office and Dwight Eisenhower was 70.

Until Trump came along, they were the only US leaders to serve into their seventies and I would be happy not see another.

These ancient Democrats, now preparing for the next televised primary debate, were once young radicals with something to say and plenty of attitude. When they were too young to even dream of the Oval Office, they probably mocked their elders with the words of Bob Dylan.

I know I did.

“Don’t criticise what you don’t understand,” we warned them. “Your old road is rapidly aging. Please get out of our new one if you can’t lend a hand.”

Like Dylan himself, these political golden oldies give us great memories but few new ideas. It’s time they took his advice and left the stage.
















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