A Senior In The White House: Health An Issue?

The Super Tuesday primary results suggest that our next President will almost certainly be a senior. Hillary Clinton is 68 and will be 69 on inauguration day.  Donald Trump is 69 already, and will be well into his seventieth year on January 20 — older than Ronald Reagan, the current record holder for age on taking office.

It’s difficult to say exactly when “old age” begins, but if either Clinton or Trump serves two terms, they will have entered that period of life by most definitions. At a time of life when most seniors are slowing down and starting to feel their aches and pains, the senior in the White House will be bearing the immense responsibilities of the world’s most powerful office.

There will be compensations, of course. The President will have plenty of help with the house cleaning. Aides will be on hand to remind her or him of doctor appointments and to discreetly whisper the name of that familiar person who just came in the door. If it comes time to give up driving at night — no problem.  A chauffeured limousine is always available.

Cicero, in De Senectute (On Old Age), wrote that the advanced years can, in fact, be quite tolerable, provided one has made the proper investments earlier in life. The young should invest in friends, so that when old, they will have companionship and support.  The young should invest in learning and the arts, so that their minds can remain active and engaged in old age. Most important, a young person should invest in health.

From the look of them, Hillary has taken this last bit of advice more seriously than Donald, but she was forced to take time off back in 2012-1013 after a fainting spell and concussion. Her physician has said she is fit to serve as President, but Trump is certain to bring up her health during the campaign.

Trump’s physician has also issued a statement, this one claiming that “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”  The doctor added that Trump’s blood pressure and lab results were “astonishingly excellent.”  The candidate himself says his health is “perfection” But then, there has always been a touch of hyperbole associated with the Trump campaign. The candidate’s skin tone make’s one wonder if he’s hiding something. I won’t mention his hair — except I just did. Meanwhile, if I had to choose a new doctor, I think I’d go for Bernie Sanders’, who has issued a letter saying Sanders is “overall in very good health. That’s a little more down to earth.

At any rate, here’s hoping that each candidate invests wisely in the future by choosing a vice presidential running mate who is not only competent, but also fit and healthy. This would be the common-sense thing to do. Video clips of Governor Christie at Trump’s elbow do not inspire confidence.

We haven’t had to worry much about the President’s health these past eight years. President Obama (now 54) used to be a smoker, and Vice President Biden (73) underwent surgery for brain aneurisms in 1988, but they’ve kept themselves in shape. We’ll miss them when they’re gone — and not just for reasons of health.




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