Get the kids off John’s dang lawn (Forum)

Jeremy Gordon

Tuesday Column

The other day my co-workers and I were sitting in Sleepy Hollow (the lounge where production staff employees at Norris hang out), and politics came up. Everyone gradually became involved in the conversation. Reader, I’m not going to go into something cliché like how it became a melting pot of conflicting ideas, or how working with people gets you to see other perspectives or how I emerged from the conversation a better man. Rather, the conversation was about something I hadn’t thought about before: whether or not a grandpa can be president.

John McCain is something like a billion years old (actually 71, but same difference). Should he be elected in the fall (an increasingly likely possibility as he continues to rock the GOP caucuses), he will be the oldest person to ever be elected president, either finishing his presidency at the ripe age of 76 or running for another term. One of my co-workers had a serious problem with this, which could be summed up as: Should the leader of the free world be prone to death by falling? What’s more, should it matter?

My initial answer was no, it shouldn’t. Even though I’m theoretically a liberal (I support marriage for gays, I think we should get out of Iraq, I take Keith Olbermann seriously, etc.), John McCain seems on the level. If age is the biggest concern about McCain, then that’s far preferable to a rat like Giuliani (who did not stay the course and dropped out) or a slicker rat like Romney in the White House. You have to respect a guy who was held in a Vietnamese prison camp for five years and refused to leave his fellow soldiers behind. Plus, Ann Coulter hates him. That has to count for something.

But as we kept debating, another thought came up: If McCain did die in office, the office would pass to the vice president. Even though running mates haven’t been chosen, rumor of Mike Huckabee vying to be such for McCain has popped up in the political blogosphere. To me, that would be terrifying: an evangelical, pro-creation minister in the White House. Compared to McCain, Huckabee is not alright. So the possibility of someone like Huckabee (or more generally, any other shady running mate) ascending to the most powerful position in America would be enough for me to pull the lever for the Democrat (even if Mike Gravel got the nomination … alright, maybe not).

Ultimately though, ageism shouldn’t be a giant factor. My columnist colleague, Nausheen Shaikh, brought up the possibility of Obama being assassinated in office, and why we should vote for him anyway. Even though his age is enough to raise eyebrows, Ronald Reagan was only three years younger than McCain when he was first elected, and he was way more senile. If you believe McCain is the right man for the job, you should vote for him, even if you are afraid he might die in office. At the very least, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you voted for your favorite candidate, not just the healthiest one.

Medill sophomore Jeremy Gordon can be reached at [email protected]