There is much discussion these days about the age of candidates for president, particularly as it applies to former Vice President Joe Biden. For heaven’s sake, he’s a mere 76. I’ve celebrated 12 birthdays since I was at that tender and vibrant age. And I ain’t finished yet!

I propose another question: How young is too young to take on what could be the toughest job on earth, especially in these fraught times? How much experience, wisdom, calmness under pressure, thoughtfulness does it take to handle this position? How much ability to reflect, to consider the opponent’s point of view? How much experience has one had being knocked on one’s backside, to have experienced failure and had to get up and start over again?

When I was a kid, my parents told me that when an older person entered the room I was to stand.

They taught that when a group of grown-ups was having a discussion, I was to listen and learn. If I had something to say, it should only be after I had thought and learned about the subject under discussion.

It wasn’t that all older people were smarter, but rather it was that the very experience of living, with all its bumps and tragedies, provided balance and perspective. It gave them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, to grow and mature. (That the current White House occupant may not represent these qualities does not detract from the truth of them.)

Being in one’s 70s hardly disqualifies a person to lead. And neither does being young necessarily make one a better candidate to occupy the Oval Office. The measure shouldn’t be whether you live long enough to finish a term; it should be what you are able to accomplish, and the grace of your leadership in the time you are given.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (79) is second in line of succession for president. Sen. Chuck Grassley (85) is third. Maine’s own Sen. Angus King is 75 years old. Whatever political view one might have of them, they worked hard, gained experience in their chosen field, and earned their elections and their positions.

The Constitution sets 35 as the minimum age for the presidency. It does not set a maximum.



Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.