The Presidential Voice,Part Two: A Question of Age

I’ve been developing an idea for a novel for years now wherein the central character wakes up on his 35th birthday with a neurotic borderline psychotic obsession with the idea that he’s now eligible to be President of the United States. 35 is the minimum age, though the youngest president to be sworn in was Theodore Roosevelt at 42. It’s a common misconception that John Kennedy was the youngest president, but he was the youngest elected president. Teddy was VP and took over office when McKinley was killed. Why is it that anyone 35, or 42 for that matter would be laughed out of the race? Well the average age of a POTUS (President of the United States) sworn in is 54.9 years old, and the average age of a POTUS leaving office is 60, which takes into account the 1 term Presidents and those that left office prematurely for whatever reason. The oldest president to take office was Ronald Reagan who was 70 when he was inaugurated in 1981. The next oldest was William Harrison, who was sworn in at 68, but died a month later. To look at the field of candidates for the 2008 election, something that immediately stands out is that if elected, John McCain would surpass Ronald Reagan as the oldest president to take office. McCain will be 72 on Inauguration day, January 20, 2009. McCain would also become the first president born in the 1930’s to become president (the 30’s are the only decade between 1810-1819 decade to not produce a president). Does age set him, and perhaps his party, back in the race for the Oval Office? I think it plays a part. Hillary Clinton will be 61 on the next Inauguration day, whereas Barack Obama will be a spry 47 and John Edwards will be right in the median range with 56. On the other side of the aisle, Rudy Guliani will be 65 and Huckabee will be 53. If you’re a stickler for averages, your candidate that will battle it out in the 2008 election will be John Edwards and Mike Huckabee. Joseph Biden who just entered the race, is the oldest Democrat in the conversation at this point and would be 66 on that January day in 2009. Someone anonymously commented on my last Presidential Voice post asking about Mitt Romney and why I left him out of my post (I won’t reveal where their IP address came from). I’m willing to include him (he’ll be 62 in 2009, btw), but I don’t think his religious affiliation will play well nationally. The religion question is a big one for Huckabee and Brownback, too. 2004 proved that the religious right still had a big influence on the election, but 2006, though not a Presidential election, showed that there’s a shift happening, even in traditionally conservative districts. Religion is a whole big topic that can easily be a separate post, but I will point out that the traditional religious right has pretty strong negative feelings about Hillary, whereas Edwards and Obama have strong connections with the red states.

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