Is Ageism A Factor in the U.S Presidential Race?

Sunday, October 19th 2008, 11:10 am
By: News 9

Throughout the entire campaign, questions have been raised about John McCain's ability to serve as Commander In Chief. But the most common criticism I've heard in recent weeks has nothing to do about his initial support of the war in Iraq or his so-called "maverick" status. It's about his age.

Everyone I've spoken to seems to think that John McCain is too old to be President. "He's going to die in office," one said.  "He's going to be senile, "chimed in another.

I'm not the biggest John McCain fan, but in the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a big fan of politicians on either side of the aisle. Anyone who read my previous blogs on the financial bailout could figure that out.

But I take issue that a 72-year old person is too old to serve in the nation's highest office.  McCain is about the same age as former Senator Bob Dole was when Dole ran for office back in 1996. Even his opponent, President Bill Clinton said Dole wasn't too old for the job.

I have several members of my family who are older than 70 and are in possession of all o their faculties.  My great-aunt (my grandmother's sister) is 94 years old and she has a mind like a steel trap. My mother is in her late 60s and is doing just fine.

Not to say that McCain hasn't had several health bouts. He has a 15-year history of skin cancer and struggled with precancerous polyps in his colon. Yet, his doctor gave him a clean bill of health this past May. If voters are concerned as to whether McCain's health would be a factor in his ability to serve effectively in the White House, then that is a valid argument. But to suggest that his age -and just his age - automatically knocks him out of the running is ignorant and just plain wrong.

A lot has been said about the roles sexism (Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin) and racism (Barack Obama) are having on this campaign. Perhaps it's time we give ageism the same consideration.