Thursday, April 17, 2008

McCain’s Time Has Passed

National polls show that Americans are far more likely to vote for a black candidate or a female candidate for president than they are to cast their ballots for somebody as old as John “100 Years War” McCain. Were the angry Arizona senator actually elected in November, he’d be 72 years old--the most elderly person ever elected to the U.S. presidency. Heck, he’d be three years older than former Governor Ronald Reagan was when he entered the Oval Office, and just one year younger than former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole was when he ran for the presidency, and was thought too old to serve.

Yet the media, too busy pandering to McCain and too obsessed with insignificant controversies surrounding his far more able Democratic opponents to even put together a proper debate anymore, have tried not to mention McCain’s advanced age--in the same way that they’ve largely steered clear of discussing his health problems (McCain has undergone a running battle with melanoma--the principal cause of skin cancer deaths).

Now, though, comes U.S. Representative John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania), a member of the House leadership and a convert to the anti-Iraq war position, who is himself 75. Introducing Hillary Clinton during a Washington, D.C., appearance earlier this week, the blunt Murtha addressed McCain’s elderliness head-on:
“ ... [T]his one guy running is about as old as me. And let me tell you something, it’s not [an] old man'’ job. I mean the campaign, the stress, so forth.”
Naturally, McCain’s campaign staffers did their best to dismiss Murtha’s comments, insisting that their candidate is in fine shape, despite his being a cancer-prone septuagenarian. But the issue 0f age is likely to become a more serious one as time goes along and this campaign heats up, forcing McCain to run around the country begging for votes as he tries to carry on George W. Bush’s failed policies. The wear and tear is destined to show. And if--as seems likely--the more vital, 46-year-old Barack Obama becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, his youth can only hurt McCain as they appear together in photographs and debates. I’ve never bought into the characterization of Obama as some second-coming of John F. Kennedy, but on the television screen, they’re likely to look like the energetic Kennedy and a sweaty Richard M. Nixon from the 1960 presidential debates. That comparison will be unavoidable.

It’s no wonder, then, that discussion about the GOPer’s potential running mates next fall seems to have opened early. As the Raleigh, North Carolina, News & Observer observes, “Given McCain’s age--he’d be 72 on Inauguration Day--the presidency could come open sooner than eight years.”

READ MORE:Murtha Tackles McCain’s Age,” by Steve Benen (The Carpetbagger Report); “The Man Who Would Be Bush,” by Robert Scheer (The Huffington Post).

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