It’s possible that John McCain’s High-Water Mark is around 72. John Heilemann has an interesting piece in New York magazine, Is John McCain Bob Dole? that focuses on many of the candidate’s weaknesses, including his old age. In the article the age issue is referred to as “Bob Dole”
So if McCain is no longer the bracing iconoclast he was in 2000, who the hell is he?“I’ll tell you,” this person says. “He’s morphed into Bob Dole.”
But few of the other likenesses between McCain and Dole can be spun so benignly. There’s the septuagenarian-ness (McCain is 71; Dole was 72 when he ran). There’s the physical frailty, courageously earned in war, that nevertheless serves as a constant reminder of his advanced years. There’s the legendary shortness of his fuse. (McCain has yet to have a full-on “Stop lying about my record” moment on the trail, but his testiness was on display the other day in a widely YouTubed confrontation on his campaign jet with the Times’s Elisabeth Bumiller.) There’s the firm conviction, as Time journalist Mark Halperin has noted, that “being on Meet the Press is more important than going to church—actually, that being on Meet the Press is going to church.”
And this conclusion:
And indeed, McCain’s age may prove as a big hurdle for him as Obama’s race is for him. According to Peter Hart’s polling, 29 percent of voters say that America isn’t ready to elect a president in his seventies. And among the groups who register even higher percentages of concern are women, midwesterners, and blue-collar voters. One of the central challenges that McCain will face is to prove that he isn’t past his sell-by date, just another doddering member of the shuffleboard set. Watching him move through the world—a rickety little man with tiny, clawlike hands, barking out staccato platitudes—I often think of the day in 1996 when I watched Bob Dole take an errant step and fall off a stage in California, an accident that sealed his image as more AARP than C-I-C. The same danger is forever lurking for McCain.
Back in New Hampshire, McCain announced one day that he might be just a one-term president—an utterance that was variously described as an unfortunate slip or another demonstration of his refreshing candor. Please. What McCain was doing—a risky move, but not a crazy one—was not just trying to assuage concerns about his age, but turn them to his advantage. “He’s got to position himself as the right guy for right now, the guy with the maturity to lead in an uncertain world,” says Castellanos. “He can’t be the candidate of the future, but he can be the candidate of the present who will keep you safe and give you a shot at the future.”
And, hey, who knows, it might even work, for history tells us that political contests between the present and the future are always close-run things. The trouble is that McCain is no longer a man of the moment we currently share—he’s an advertisement for the past. And in a contest between yesterday and tomorrow, tomorrow usually has the upper hand.
I do think that McCain’s age will kill him in this election, especially if he runs against Obama. A victim of Ageism?
And even if you don’t agree, you’ll could still enjoy How to Tell John McCain Jokes. Like this one:
“John McCain seems reinvigorated. He has a new campaign slogan, ‘He’ll lead you into the 21st century.’ I like it better than the old slogan, which was ‘He’ll lead you into assisted living.'”