“At 79, Joe Biden is the oldest president in American history. Concerns about his age top the list for why Democratic voters want the party to find an alternative for 2024.
I don’t think this reflects an “ageist” prejudice against those who have reached such withering heights so much as an understanding that people in their late 70s and 80s wither.
I speak with some authority. I’m now a spritely 76 — light years younger than our president. I feel fit, I swing dance and salsa, and can do 20 pushups in a row. Yet I confess to a certain loss of, shall we say, fizz.
Joe Biden could easily make it until 86, when he’d conclude his second term. After all, it’s now thought a bit disappointing if a person dies before 85. Three score and ten is the lifespan set out in the Bible. Modern technology and Big Pharma add at least a decade and a half. “After 80, it’s gravy,” my father used to say.
Joe will be on the cusp of the gravy train.
Where will it end? There’s only one possibility. I find myself reading the obituary pages with ever greater interest, noting “Older Than Me” or “Younger Than Me.”
Most of the time I forget my age. The other day, after lunch with some of my graduate students, I caught our reflection in a store window and for an instant wondered about the identity of the short old man in our midst.
It’s not death that’s the worrying thing about a second Biden term. It’s the dwindling capacities that go with aging.
When I get together with old friends, our first ritual is an “organ recital” — how’s your back? heart? hip? eyesight? hearing? prostate? hemorrhoids? The recital can run (and ruin) an entire lunch.
The question my friends and I jokingly (and brutishly) asked one other in college — “getting much?” — now refers not to sex but to sleep. I don’t know anyone over 75 who sleeps through the night.
When he was president, Bill Clinton prided himself on getting only about four hours. But he was in his forties then. (I also recall cabinet meetings where he dozed off.) How does Biden manage?
My memory for names is horrible. I once asked Ted Kennedy how he recalled names and he advised that if a man is over 50, just ask “how’s the back?” and he’ll think you know him.
I often can’t remember where I put my wallet and keys. Certain proper nouns have disappeared altogether. Even when rediscovered, they have a diabolical way of disappearing again.” Reich