Do Presidential Candidates Confront Ageism?
When Ronald Reagan ran for President in 1980, media, pundits, and his opponents, constantly reminded voters that Reagan was probably too old to be President, because he would start his term at age 68. When John McCain ran in 2008, he faced pejorative remarks about his age, with added Viagra jokes and references to a fanciful Army term under Abraham Lincon. McCain would have started his term at age 72.
This year’s final three nomination candidates have been Hillary Clinton, who would start at age 69; Donald Trump, aiming to start at age 70; and Bernie Sanders, hoping to start at age 75. Two prominent politicians who were potential Clinton opponents, are VP Joe Biden, who would have started at age 74; and California Governor Jerry Brown, who will be 78 on Inauguration Day 2017.
Interestingly, we’ve heard little mention of candidate age in 2016. Roundly criticized daily for his age during the election runup, Ronald Reagan at 68 was younger than any current candidates will be. Except for Governor Brown, the oldest potential President by far, these candidates are all within the same age cohort, i.e., they all remember the Beatles.
Notably, Reagan and McCain, both Republicans, were the only candidates to undergo this odd form of ageism. Perhaps their opponents have studied the Republican genome and discovered that dementia occurs earlier in Republicans than in Democrats. Presumptive GOP nominee Trump has escaped criticism since he is so close in age to Hillary Clinton. Potential critics may also avoid Trump’s inevitable counter-punch since he may accidently stumble onto their real-world peccadillos.
To identify other reasons for concerns about age, we researched statements made by each candidate on their greatest fear if elected President, to determine whether age was a consideration. None of them mentioned the age issue, but here are responses from each candidate, when asked, “What is your greatest fear as a prospective president?”
Hillary Clinton: “My greatest fear is that I won’t be able to find a White House intern hook-up like Bill did.”
Donald Trump: “My greatest fear is that the Mexicans will build the wall first, and make me pay for it.”
Bernie Sanders: “My greatest fear is that the Secret Service won’t permit a Woodstock celebration redux on the Whitehouse grounds.”
Joe Biden: “My greatest fear is that when I utter any of my stupid gaffs, someone will pay attention.”
Jerry Brown: “My greatest fear is that Linda Ronstadt will tell the world the embarrassing story behind her song, “Silver Threads, and Golden Needles.”
Ronald Reagan: “I’m dead now, so please shut-up about the Alzheimer’s thing. It didn’t start until long after my term expired.”
Hillary’s Indictment Rumors
Rumors of a blockbuster news story began a few days ago. They were unsourced, so the media avoided embarrassment by not reporting details. The White House and DNC offered perfunctory “no comment” responses. The Trump campaign had little to say, though the presumed nominee’s spokesperson smiled, and displayed a “cat who swallowed the canary” demeanor.
Digging for verification, the Boston Globe uncovered a source who reported that the former Secretary of State had quietly disappeared for a few hours with her closest aides, Huma Abedin, and Cheryl Mills, to visit exclusive New York fashion designer, Donna Karan. According to this source, the three women were on a mission to order designer jumpsuits, for use in prison. TMZ reported that Secretary Clinton supposedly ordered a handmade beaded jumpsuit in a flattering shade of orange. Apparently, she plans to continue addressing America, even if incarcerated. If the rumors are correct, the trio charged all design and production costs to the Clinton Foundation.
In breaking news, however, Donald Trump phoned Matt Lauer of the Today Show later and reported that his organization had discovered the source of the indictment story.
“It was a man with a Muslim name who tweeted it, reported Trump. “On investigation, however, he stated, “I realized that I had taken an Ambien to get a good night’s sleep, and may have tweeted during the night without remembering. This situation illustrates a common problem in America today, caused by worries over Obama’s mismanagement of the economy. Many people tweet every night using Muslim names. Some are real Muslims that I’ll ban when elected. But anyway, it was only a dream. I kept wondering why the tune ‘You’re Off To See The Wizard’ kept playing in my head. I understand Hillary’s song is ‘If I Only Had a Brain!’”
Memo to Republicans: Yes, it’s only a dream. The President and former Secretary Clinton have probably made a backroom deal. Would the President endorse Hillary and campaign with her if he didn’t have everything already rigged? The only question is how they’ll spin it. Maybe the President will order FBI Director James Comey to keep investigating until the primaries in 2020.
Why Does the Media Give Some People A Pass?
The history of news media coverage indicates that some people get a pass, while reporters throw others under the proverbial bus. Regardless of partisan bias, there are other forces at work to decide who gets favorable treatment. In fact, a person virtually unknown to the public makes all decisions on who gets a pass from the media. He is called Mr. Nadie. Because of anger at some of his decisions, he keeps his identity secret and doesn’t permit photos of his face.
I received permission to interview Mr. Nadie, though I could only speak to the back of his head. He was generous with his time during our one-on-one interview, but I doubt that I could recognize him if I met him on the street. Following is a transcript.
Insights: Sir, thank you for speaking with me. I’m sure my readers will be very interested in what you can tell us.
Mr. Nadie: I’m sure they will. That’s why I’m talking with you. I want to reach the public through small publications and social media.
Insights: Few media people seem to know who you are, and you obviously want it that way. How did you get your job?
Mr. Nadie: As you can probably tell, I’m half African American and half Caucasian. The President likes that. And I can’t stand Mitt Romney, which also helped in my selection.
Mr. Nadie: He didn’t have to. He just used his pen and his phone.
Insights: Do you have a boss?
Mr. Nadie: I report to Valery Jarrett, though I’ve never met her. She only tells me who’s hot and who’s not. I receive instructions from encrypted email and a private server that destroys her messages as soon as I read them.
Insights: I’d like to understand your criteria for giving some people a pass, and permitting others to be eviscerated. For example, you gave Hillary Clinton a pass, for lying about being shot at in Bosnia. But Brian Williams lost his job after an ugly storm of criticism from media colleagues for lying about a similar event in Iraq. Why are your decisions different in these two similar cases?
Mr. Nadie: That’s simple. Brian should have realized that people believe him. But no one on earth believes Hillary, so the Bosnia lie was just one event among thousands of whoppers. As we’ve been speaking, she’s probably committed three or four more. That’s why her supporters love her.
Insights: Moving on, let’s compare Mitt Romney receiving harsh criticism for having a net worth of $250-million. One of his daily tormentors in 2012, David Letterman, has a net worth of $400-million. Romney apparently worked hard to earn his money, while Letterman only stood in front of a microphone and read un-funny lists created by grade-B writers. Why did you give Letterman a pass for years, and throw Romney to the wolves? Meanwhile, you gave Trump a pass, though he’s a billionaire.
Mr. Nadie: Romney’s an obnoxious goody-goody-two-shoes. Dave is obnoxious too, but he had a juicy extramarital affair and jokes about smoking pot. He’s my kind of guy. Trump only gets a half-pass. The media people give him my pass because he gives them new storylines every day. He’s money in the bank for the media bosses. But we take the pass away on the second day after each controversial statement. Then Democrats pile on, and Republicans cringe. Everybody’s happy.
Insights: Final question. How could you give a pass to the President, after he lied, saying “If you like your doctor, you’ll be able to keep your doctor; if you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan.”
Mr. Nadie: I like the president. And I think Michelle is a hottie. But your pass just expired. Get your annoying, truth-seeking butt out of my office!