Gary Horton | Biden, Trump, Old Age and Sensibility

Gary Horton

Age is a hot topic right now. Especially, “older, old age.”  

President Joe Biden is getting hit with more than his fair share of rotten tomatoes on this one. He stumbles over words. He gets lost in thought every now and again. He relies on Teleprompters. Oh, how the critics howl about being TOO old, or senile, or incapacitated … 

Yet, that old man travels all around and leads the Free World. Hey, the dude took a midnight train from Poland to Kiev and spent the day walking the town square in Kiev with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Yes, Biden – that “senile” guy — beat Putin for a mid-day stroll through Kiev. That old man has assembled a high-quality cabinet that can cover for his deficiencies. He’s old enough and wise enough to know where his shortcomings and increasing weaknesses are, and he’s got a good team behind him to execute on his wisdom. 

And yes, we did see Biden fall on his bicycle. But hey, he was out there riding it at 79! (My wife and doctor also fell, about 30 years younger when it happened, but we’re not calling them “senile.”) Biden is wise enough to know he’s got to throw himself into exercise and staying in shape if he’s to remain vital over time. 

Old-age wisdom. Don’t sell it short. 

The other old guy 30% of Americans would kill the rest of us to have for president is also aged and showing it. Donald Trump is already the age Biden was when Biden first took the presidency. Should Trump emerge from his insurrectionist trash heap victoriously, he will be older than Biden was at assuming No. 46, when Trump would ascend to No. 47. Trump uses a fourth-grade vocabulary. He mixes thoughts and gets lost. He’s also married to a Teleprompter. Trump requires both hands to hold a glass of water. 

So, let’s stop playing agism when old age is all around us. We have Biden at 80, Trump at 77 (will be Biden’s age 80 when and if he again became president) and Mitch McConnell at 81 right now. Like old Windows computers, Mitch freezes up like the Blue Screen of Death, only he’s the Red Screen of Death – and Mitch must be rebooted from time to time to get to run again … only to freeze once more. 

We’re a nation of old people being led by older people. 

Biden and McConnell each have the advantage and wisdom of age and of decades in the Senate. They’ve both seen every angle of government and governing. Trump is a bit different here. Wisdom, he has in spades – but it’s old gangster “wisdom.” The street smarts of Al Capone. He knows just what to do as a populist gangster, and no one is going to take that away from him. He’s exceptional at his populist gangsterism. Whether that is good for America, no matter: You must respect the schtick he’s constructed around his persona. Disregard old man Trump at our peril. 

So here in America, regardless of your party, we’re the old led by the older. 

At 67, I can’t imagine I would have the energy to do either what Trump or Biden do. God knows how they hang in there, each with their own respective stresses and daily challenges. 

But they pull it off, and each day they’re in the news and making news, each in their own way. I couldn’t keep up with either of them and I’m sure most of us can’t. 

Would I like to see some younger blood in our national politics? Yes, as most Americans agree on this one. But in “young blood” we must be cautious. 

“Young” often means “unproven” and the wisdom thing is missing in many of them. Marjorie Taylor Green? Lauren Boebert? Matt Gaetz? George Santos? Ilhan Omar? These guys? They’re built for the Influencer Age. Social media mavens, they’ve coiffed a following sufficient in size to wield power, without the wisdom to use it wisely. 

So, be careful what you wish for. Kevin McCarthy is relatively young and demonstrated zero wisdom … What a tightrope we walk between old wisdom and youthful impetuousness.  

Yes, time can pass older folks by. Technology moves lightning fast. Knowledge is doubling exponentially. It takes an entire giant team and more to manage the presidency and everything that is thrown at it. 

More than ever, real wisdom, that well-earned “gut” knowledge on how things work and how they will turn out – oh that’s priceless in key leadership rolls. Now, more than ever. 

So, let’s stop banging on the age thing. Instead, let’s value more enduring things over youth. Wisdom, empathy, intuition – all earned with age, vastly beats out jet-black hair, shiny skin and the bounce in a step. 

If you’re like me, you’re a little older than you wish you were. But like me, I bet you wouldn’t give up your accumulated wisdom for youth only. I don’t want to make all those mistakes again.  

And I sure don’t want youthful mistakes from an unproven national leader.  

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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