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No Country for Old Men

Posted on Apr 29, 2008
AP photo / Mary Altaffer

By Robert Scheer

Would President John McCain forget who made that 3 a.m. call to the special White House phone? I suspect that his aides would not just let him nod off back to sleep, even if they were intimidated by the prospect of one of his alleged intemperate outbursts, but might our septuagenarian president be less than fully focused?

Most likely he would be, although as someone born in the same year as the senator, I too bristle at suggestions that age has made me less perfect than I once was. But it has. Sadly, those brain cells do go, and “senior moments” of befuddlement are more than a joke. But that shouldn’t automatically disqualify one of us still-agile silver foxes from the White House, as few of my contemporaries are likely to turn in a worse performance than the much younger current occupant. However, looking at the top two men in the present administration,  the age question does make a compelling case for very carefully evaluating McCain’s vice-presidential choice.

That was my point when I raised the age issue on a Los Angeles Times Book Festival panel last Sunday, and my sparring partner, right-wing radio pundit Hugh Hewitt, wanted me instantly voted off the island of constant noise. He compared my “ageist” comment to someone making a racist charge against Barack Obama.

I take his point, as absurd as it first appeared. Absurd because it is obviously true that aging, as opposed to skin color or gender, does have a deleterious effect on one’s physical and mental functioning, and to deny this evident biological reality is as nonsensical as denying evolution itself. The species survives when each generation burns out and is replaced by a hopefully superior one, and while it is natural to want to linger on the scene as long as possible, we cannot insist on our personal indispensability to the continuation of the human experience.

Of course Hewitt was not doing anything of the sort, any more than he would genuinely embrace creationism, summarily dismiss fears of global warming or otherwise honestly endorse the tenet of the sort of phony science that right-wing pundits must from time to time condone. They do so for opportunistic reasons, and that is why the significance of McCain’s age must be denied by those eager to maintain the GOP’s hold on the presidency. They will hold their noses and vote for him despite the sensible positions he has at times had the temerity to advance, impervious to their blackmail. Impervious, that is, until he decided to make a second run for the presidency, leading him to sharply reverse his past principled stances and accommodate torture, tax cuts for the rich, Pat Robertson and other favored fetishes of the Republican base. The right-wing talk show bully boys still don’t trust him, but he’s the only horse left to ride.


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While they continue to loathe him for his fatal flaw of occasionally embracing a moderate thought, they are dependent upon his electoral victory to extend their vastly disproportionate political power. They fully expect McCain to betray key points of their cryogenic agenda; on Sunday, Hewitt condemned most of McCain’s Senate performance and in particular his reasonable stance on immigration.

Their hope of retaining influence rests on saddling McCain with a proven rightist as his vice-presidential choice. The hunt is now on for the new Cheney, but such a candidate has to be brought in under the radar because the public is for the first time in modern history keenly aware that the vice president can play an enormously destructive role. That is particularly true if the potential president himself is, actuarially speaking, more likely to kick the bucket. Or, less dramatically, simply underperforms.

Let’s not kid any longer. Age is a factor in this race and nowhere is it so important as in McCain’s vice-presidential choice. If he picks from the very thin ranks of reasonable Republicans, it will be reassuring to more moderate voters attracted to McCain for his independence of thought as reflected in support of campaign finance reform and his opposition to some outrageously bloated military weapons expenditures that he has on occasion done much to expose. But if he turns to the loony wing for a running mate, we must become very concerned about the ability of a man in his 70s to fully perform in the world’s most important office. Is there another Cheney lurking in the wings?

Robert Scheer’s new book is “The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America.”

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By Tom Doff, May 5, 2008 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment

Anyone calling the White House at 3AM during a Clinton administration, would likely be a tipsy Jennifer, or Paula, or Monica, or Mitzi, or Charlotte. or…..

Anyway, nothing the voice mail couldn’t handle.

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., May 5, 2008 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment

I am an expert on that subject. I am 80 years old and know the school system from the time I was 6 in 1934 to now with a 19 year old daughter in college. My father failed to negotiate an 8th grade diploma in 1910. The rural school he attended was taught by a recent high school graduate from a “Normal School”. There was a final exam in Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. He failed math, but could calculate how many tons of hay in a stack of any shape or dimension. He could determine the age of a horse by looking at the teeth. He could lasso a steer and brand a calf. But he could not answer the test questions of 8th grade to the standards of the day. Neither could 75% of high school graduates of today. I have some. I have been one, and I knew my father.

Every American cannot qualify by ability or stamina to negotiate a high school diploma, let alone a college degree. Forget it and turn to real work for a living. Real work does not require a piece of stiff paper to verify ability on or off the job.

BTW I have a Master’s in Health Care Administration.

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By Lee, May 5, 2008 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

RE: Tom Doff

Your derogatory comments regarding young citizens
and McCain’s age are cute, but the fact
is that the dumbing down of American youth is nothing
to boast about, as reflected in this N.Y. Times article:

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By Tom Doff, May 5, 2008 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

The problem with McCain, at his age, is that every time he tries to take a pee, he needs a ‘Do Over’.
Every time he tries to take a crap, he needs a ‘Do Over’.
Every time he opens his mouth, he needs a ‘Do Over’.

When you push the Nuke button, you don’t get a ‘Do Over’.

Think of that when you cast your ballot.

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By Tom Doff, May 5, 2008 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

I was talking to a young citizen the other day, and he said ‘I just heard that McCain used to be a pilot’.

I said ‘That’s true, he considered himself a pilot, but he never learned how to land safely’.

He said, ‘I’ll be damned. Did they really have flying machines way back when he was young enough to fly?’

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By dale Headley, May 4, 2008 at 10:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I find McCain’s non-sequitur ramblings reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s in his second term.  Whether it is age, alzheimer’s, or just plain cluelessness does not matter;  McCain is clearly not equipped to be our leader in what is the most potentially catastrophic period in our history.

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By Robert Collette, May 3, 2008 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

President Eisenhower stated that no one over 70 should hold the office of the president. He should know. Republicans should listen to one of the few decent Republican presidents we have had.

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By great_satan, May 2, 2008 at 12:36 am Link to this comment

What is the retirement age for federal employees?

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By felicity, May 1, 2008 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

When Harry Truman’s term was up he was offered a number of high-paying positions in the private sector.  He said that they didn’t want him, they wanted the president and he wasn’t that anymore.  In other words he told them to go fly a kite. How refreshing and how, unfortunately, out of date.

The president of the United States is supposed to be one among many - not a king, an emperor, a god, a savior - an individual who steps into a job, holds it for a while, and leaves. McCain’s age, Hillary’s third term, Obama’s inspiration should be of little consequence because individually, as president, they are still constitutionally supposed to be one among many.

As long as we anoint them, give them power above and beyond the laws of our land, we are in danger of losing our democracy.

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By Nino, May 1, 2008 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

its not age,its character..McCain is a traitor…so what is the big deal…oil is out of sight because he is owned by the corporate is hannity,rush (stoned as usual) ORielly..)harvard grad from levitown yet) and so it goes….it cant happen here…all the best…remember,dont question the ruling class they hate that..we are the masses and thus are like pavlovs dogs…bow wow…Nino

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By Expat, May 1, 2008 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

^ planned.  My comment was for Jackpine Savage below.

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By Expat, May 1, 2008 at 7:12 am Link to this comment

^ things may not be as they seem…..........

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By TDoff, May 1, 2008 at 4:30 am Link to this comment

With a little luck, by the time McCain remembered where he put the phone, around 4 AM, the crisis will have passed.

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By TDoff, May 1, 2008 at 1:42 am Link to this comment

McCain’s team has asked Dick Cheney to search for a suitable running mate for John, specifying ‘Ideally, he should be a televangelist with a warped sense of values, bi- or homo-sexual, who hooks on the side, young enough to be unafflicted with alzheimers, with a female wife, exceedingly rich, who’d be ready to take over the presidency within six months, so we’ll have a ticket republicans can wholeheartedly support’.
Cheney reportedly replied, ‘Give me a couple of months to build up my congregation, and I’ll be perfect for the job’.

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By TDoff, May 1, 2008 at 1:25 am Link to this comment

This morning, while taking a morning pee, Lindsay Graham looked down and a flash of recognition hit him.
He rushed to his wife with a big smile and declared, ‘My god, my dick looks just like John McCain’.
‘Now don’t go getting all prideful, Honey’, she said, ‘Everyone’s dick looks just like John McCain’.
‘Besides’, she continued, ‘Come here and let me get most of the wrinkles out of it, and it’ll look just like Hillary’.

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By jane, April 30, 2008 at 9:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Old men always send young men to the front to die.AT

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By Jane, April 30, 2008 at 9:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As my late friend Andy Truskier would have said: ” how true”. We miss you Andy.

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By Ella in NM, April 30, 2008 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t give a flying f**k how old John McCain is.  Whatever McCain’s problems or deficiencies, it is not his age.  Age will be no more than something that his staff will make “reasonable accommodation” for , as if it were just a physical difference that had to be adjusted to.  All I know is he has been a Republican since day one, and he will always be one so his views will rarely, if ever, be even a tiny bit amenable to me.  THAT IS WHY I WOULD NEVER VOTE FOR HIM.  NOT HIS AGE.

I would like to remind EVERYONE that we are all going to live—on average—way, way longer than our predecessors.  A few people will die young, unfortunately, due to things they cannot control.  Some will succumb to family histories of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimers, etc—but we will know about them before they are 70.  However, the majority of us will live to be healthy, vigorous, and intellectually sharp well into our 80’s.  We’ll get bored, we’ll want to contribute our incredible wisdom and experience, and many of us will want to maintian full employment until the day we croak—-specially those of us who have maintained a high level of physical and mental activity in our middle age, like McCain.  No one should expect to retire at 62, and die a peaceful death in their sleep a few years later.

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By Hammo, April 30, 2008 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

Speaking of “old men,” including those who were in the military like McCain, let’s take a fresh look at guys like Jeremiah Wright and Jesse Ventura.

Food for thought in the article:

“Marine Jeremiah Wright, SEAL Jesse Ventura speak bluntly” 

Joint Recon Study Group blog
April 30, 2008

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By jackpine savage, April 30, 2008 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

I know that the meme we’re supposed to accept is that McCain is going to be another Bush…or worse.  But it’s hard to say.

He’s pandering to the base that he knows doesn’t like him.  What we see now may be the real McCain, but it might not.  Should he make it into the Oval Office, what could anyone hold over him?  Sure, he might think about a second term…but unlike younger presidents, i’m not so sure that it would be the first thing on his mind.

We might all be surprised by President McCain.  He did almost become a Democrat once (not that long ago).  And given his personality, he might just make his party pay for all that it’s made him do to get to the presidency.

Or he might turn out to be a crazy war-monger.

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By Don Stivers, April 30, 2008 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

It is not age.  It is whether the person wants to be a big stud and wage war.  McCain still thinks things are rosy in Iraq.  After 5 years of warfare, how can things be rosy?  How can we vote to put someone in office who voted to go to war over false pretenses?  I am amazed at how everyone forgets this.  How could we reward someone who is partially responsible for the misery of hundreds of thousands or even millions of people?  How can people be so GOD DAMNED BLIND or forgetful???  McCain could be brilliant.  But he is guilty of waging an illegal war.  This makes him a war criminal and undeserving of being the leader of the United States.  The children who are suffering in Iraq today, because of actions by the United States Military, are the ones who are going to be bringing so called terrorism to United States soil because of revenge that they have for the loss of their parents in an illegal war of occupation.

We, as citizens of the United States, should instantly reject anybody who has participated in waging or supporting the war of occupation in Iraq no matter the qualifications of the individual running for office to REPRESENT the people of the United States.

This war should never have been conceived of in any body’s mind.  Even one life lost should bring dishonor to the leader who lead the invasion of Iraq.  And there are many, who hide behind the curtain of the power of government, who should be ashamed and dishonored. 

I could go on and on but it all falls on deaf ears.  None of the people who are currently in the position to be nominated to run for President are honorable.  McCain and Clinton voted to give Bush the power to give the command to go to war at Bush’s whim and Obama has voted to fund this war of occupation.

So, someone tell me why these people are the only ones who are in a position to be President of the United States!

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By G.Anderson, April 30, 2008 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

No matter how good McCain appears to be, how youthful, how long lived his family is. There is one issue that makes all of his qualifications unimportant, he is after all a Republican.

The Republican party’s only mission in life is to loot this country and roll back The New Deal so they can loot it some more.

The Republican party should not be trusted with any public office from dog catcher on up, there’s just too much temptation for them to steal.

And even if McCain is elected president with all sorts of sincere hopes and dreams for America, he will not be able to supervise that horde of lying thieving robber barons,that go by the name of The Republican party.

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By Allan Scheer, April 30, 2008 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Age = Wisdom

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By Lee, April 30, 2008 at 10:38 am Link to this comment

McCain might have momentary attention deficit, but Obama apparently had attention deficit for 20 years!

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By Duris Maxwell, April 30, 2008 at 10:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Somehow the fact that Mr. McCain thinks that running for president is the same thing as being president should tell you something.

And his idea that you can speak about the war in Iraq in WWII terms.

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By Amerikagulag, April 30, 2008 at 9:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Doesn’t matter if he’d forget, Lieberman will handle things and Israel will be all the better off.

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By bc41, April 30, 2008 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

I think he could handle the job of president given his family trait of longevity.  What you loose in metal quickness, you gain in overall perspective.  Think stability in somewhat uncertain times, rational and reserved ideology be favored, recognition of the working people like 8 and $10/hr would be refreshing, not the latte 200k types so much.  I guess they’re Mercedes needs an upgrade.  I Like Mc Cain as a person, liked his support of Wright’s free speech, definitely the pastor had the right to speak and should be applauded for his pugnaciousness I believe.  Mc Cain needs a moderate vice presidential running mate for a possible vote, a good renouncing of the conservatives’ hate also be in order.  He’s played to Bush to be in the running—who knows if any of them will get invasion fever.

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By mister_god, April 30, 2008 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

McCain seems like a Republican Party shoe-in this election. According to the script, one person from each major party must be running. So Republicans look around and say, Hey, we have this guy, put him on the race-track. He he he. Oooops, but wait, he might have a chance.

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By GrammaConcept, April 30, 2008 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

Frankly, I can tell, you’re a GoodMan, Senor…..........Funny, too.
Thanks for the morning chuckles…..think I’ll just stop right here and go out into the garden, grinning…

PS….By the way, “senior moments” is a phrase I simply refuse to propagate…..
I have a very full file and will shortly retrieve the desired data…
This is a train of thought I have scientifically proven…
As we think, so we become….....

The sad subject of this article also seems to illustrate that…

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By jatihoon, April 30, 2008 at 8:01 am Link to this comment

McCain age with Bush brain,Let’s “VOTERS DECIDE”.

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By John Hanks, April 30, 2008 at 7:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I would rather know if anything was done to cause or prevent the call. Liebermann is a paranoid megalomaniac and totally incapable of judgement.

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., April 30, 2008 at 6:52 am Link to this comment

Thanks for that fellow geezer. Long life and joi de vivre!

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By Purple Girl, April 30, 2008 at 6:38 am Link to this comment

I’ve worked in Long term Care- Not everyone who is ‘old’ is senile. The majority of elderly live independently and without assistance and still retain their younger ideologies (who do you think led those fights for equality- didn’t start just in the 60’s & 70’s). You are pigeon holing a mass number of Americans who have spent their lives trying to bring about real justice- don’t be fooled just becasue their hair is Grey- there are still liberals among them.
Mac’s problem is not his age- it’s his life long ideology and ambition. Add to that his recent lapses of memeory and who must consider he has suffered either a Stroke (body mechanics look Rehab enhanced to me) or he is suffering with Alzheimers- Just like Ronny was when HE TOOK OFFICE! I saw it in his first term (just thouhgt him stupid during the campaign- but became undeniably evident esp during Iran Contra Scandal) Mac is being Propped up and Used by the same group who used Ronny as a ventriloquest Puppet- Cheney, Rummy & Wolf & ASSociates.
Adn should we not buy this stage show- they have their GIRL in the waiting in the Wings. Hillary is a Corporationist, indoctriated in to the Agenda, The Mission they’ve been working at for Decades!

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By Marta Kaye, April 30, 2008 at 6:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think the republicans are just useing McCain to keep the White House. The one who will run it will, no doubt be the VP-Huckabee! That is what they did with Reagan, Bush sr. ran the show.

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By Expat, April 30, 2008 at 6:29 am Link to this comment

^ of humor is still refreshingly young.  I’m just a kid of 63; but I agree with your conclusion.  May you live as long as you love the life you have.

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By G.Anderson, April 30, 2008 at 6:17 am Link to this comment

The key to McCains nomination will be his selection of V.P.

He will probably pick someone much too conservative to be accepted by the American people under normal curcumstances.

The whole thing has been orchestrated by Pappa Bush, in order to keep the neo con disembling of our country going.

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., April 30, 2008 at 6:09 am Link to this comment

Ontologically, brain and skin tissue develop from the same embryonic layer. I, too, am about 80 and know the problem of embarrassing gaps in memory strings. The wrinkles in young brain tissue derive from a different string of DNA. But, not so different after all, because brain tissue is quite old in the cellular sequence of ontology. Are brain cells just old skin cells, with enough memory to function for three fourths of a lifetime?

When I was younger, I did not have enough memory of things because I had not enough experience of things to remember. I did have history books to fill in my own lack of sensations. I even had aids to memory, such as note pads, and a desk blotter. I usually had a secretary to remind me of meetings and reports due. The business office clerk called me to pick up my pay check, and my wife reminded me to take out the garbage. A natural sensation of urgency tells me to go to the bath room, but even that fails on occasion, and seems to increase in frequency. Frequency and urgency seem to go together. I change my underwear more often than I change my mind. But then my mind is no longer dirty, so I don’t need to change it. I get my teeth cleaned twice a year, but my brain was washed just a few days ago, so it is not due for cleaning now.

Viva le geezer! But, vote for the kid.

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By Greg Bacon, April 30, 2008 at 4:17 am Link to this comment

June 20, 2009 by Binyamin Nerdfinkel

Los Angeles-President McCain was assassinated today in Los Angeles, while giving a speech to the “Friends of Israel” committee at a local synagogue. The president was rushed to Sinai Memorial Hospital, but by all accounts, is presumed to be dead.

The suspect was cornered at a local mosque, where a shootout ensued, ending with the death of the subject.  Police say that the Secret Service has found the sniper rifle, an Iranian made Steyr.

As this article was going to print, Vice-President Joe Lieberman was being sworn in as president and is said to be calling in the Joint Chiefs of Staff to choose what military response there will be to this heinous crime.

The White House issued a short press release, saying that “President Lieberman is aghast at this unprovoked act of terror, committed by elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. President Lieberman says Americans will take their grief and turn it into a mighty sword, to smite the enemies of this republic.”

The White House also stated that due to certain “terrorist” elements lurking on the web, the Internet will be shutdown, but only long enough for the Department of Homeland Security to install the protective “Overlord” software so that the Internet will cease to be breeding grounds for terror and insurrection.

Satire?  Not if John McCain receives the Republican nomination for president and is so desperate or so stupid as to have Joe LIeberman as his vice-presidential candidate.
For if the McCain-Lieberman ticket does win in November, within the year, John McCain will die a strange and sudden death, propelling Lieberman into the presidency.

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