McCain Is Too Old?

Had I not taught a psychology course focused on geriatric changes in one’s mental functions, I would be worried now about the fact that I have to pause on occasions to recall a name or fact that would have been instantly in mind only a few years ago. I happen to be the same age — 75 — as Representative John Murtha who yesterday suggested that John McCain is too old to take on the pressures of the presidency:

Murtha is dead right. My own experience as a professional philosopher now just retired tells me so.

Several decades back I was delighted to hear that the retirement age of 65 — an accident of the Depression years when we were trying to open up scarce jobs for younger people — would no more be imposed. I had seen too many fine academics (and others) tossed prematurely on the scrap heap of history precisely at the time when they were hitting their peak in performance. I greatly enjoyed teaching and was good at it. I had a manageable schedule of two days a week with an occasional extra day for a meeting or other event. I had no heavy physical demands placed on my body that could have ended my working life. So I sailed on happily doing my things until last year. Then during the semesters following my 73rd birthday I found myself tiring earlier in the afternoons and evenings when my classes were scheduled, waking early each morning at dawn, and frankly not doing such a good job as a teacher later in the day as I had throughout my teaching career. I realized that it was time for me to retire and so took the final sabbatical semester during the spring last year and entered retirement this past September 1.

I am keeping busy with other things such as this blog — it is marvelous to be able to communicate with email friends daily at all corners of the earth ranging from the West Bank to Scotland. But I am aware that I taper off during the course of the day and find myself weary towards the end of it and slower by far in recollecting facts and making decisions. I am good for a four hour day rather than an eight hour one and use the non working hours for other things that seem to crop up regularly — doctors’ appointments, errands, time with children and grand children or whatever comes my way.

In addition to mental slow downs the body presents its problems, too. Arthritis and other conditions cause a bit of pain and resulting irritation with the world and friends and family on occasions. I know my judgment is not at its best at such times.

In short — John McCain IS too old to take on the incredible rigors of the most demanding and critical job in the world today. He is a nice guy. Not a genius by all reports. He lacks some basic information and will be facing a slowdown in his capacity to learn and to stay fully alert during critical briefings on this and that. There is no assurance that he would be alert for a 3 a.m. phone call demanding an instant decision, say, as to whether to launch a nuclear attack on Iran!

Hopefully Senator McCain will pass through the election process okay and be returned to the Senate where he can continue to make a contribution at his own pace. If a nice guy, he is a bit wobbly in his stands on this and that, not too clear on domestic or foreign policy as well — who are the Sunnis and who are Shias? His blic on life is through the eyes of his military training — far too narrow for the current world situation.

Murtha is right, as he and I know from our own experiences with aging past 70 — McCain is too old!

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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