Wednesday, during a press conference in Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, 81, again froze and stared silently for 30 seconds. He then seemed to have trouble understanding questions for another minute or so before shaking it off and finishing. Afterward, staffers attributed it to briefly feeling “lightheaded,” the same explanation they gave when it happened last month.
I’m sure we all wish Sen. McConnell the best and will pray for his good health, but these incidents, along with Sen. Diane Feinstein, 90, signing over her power of attorney and President Biden’s increasing incoherence, have fueled growing talk about the advanced age of our top leaders, and whether it's time for them to retire and pass power on to a younger generation, like people in their 60s and 70s.
This is a touchy subject for several reasons. First, of course, once people have that kind of power and prestige, it’s hard to give it up. Also, McConnell might be concerned about the future of the GOP with its slim Senate minority, an important election coming, and his state having a Democratic Governor to appoint his replacement. Then there are those office holders who simply aren’t able to see how badly they’re doing and seriously believe they can hang on for another, say, four years.
To be clear, this isn’t entirely about age. Piers Morgan noted that he recently talked to Mick Jagger, who is only a few months younger than Biden, but still runs around a stage for over two hours and never forgets a song lyric. He also mentioned that Queen Elizabeth II was sharp as a tack up until her death at 96. There are many such examples, but everyone ages differently, and some have accompanying health issues, like the fall Sen. McConnell took recently that put him in the hospital. Many wonder if these spells might be a lingering effect of that.
While I’ve long been a fan of term limits, I don’t think that should prevent someone who’s older from holding office (in fact, if you’re a 90-year-old Republican in good mental and physical health who would like to enter politics, and you can beat AOC, please run for Congress.) That’s more a matter of preventing career politicians. I don’t think older people shouldn’t hold office, but I don’t think they should stay in office until they’re incapable of holding office and then keep on holding office anyway, just to keep power in the Party. If nothing else, their families should love them too much to let that happen.
I also don’t like seeing how the left is trying to use this issue to push for mandatory retirement ages for Supreme Court Justices, which, like their endless, baseless ethics assaults on Clarence Thomas, is just a transparent attempt to force conservative Justices off the Court to be replaced with younger leftist activists. Thomas is 75, Samuel Alito is 73, and Ketanji Brown Jackson is only 52, but I know which ones I’d trust to have the best understanding of the law and the Constitution.
Speaking of the attacks on Justice Thomas, over 100 former law clerks of his have written an open letter refuting the recent “malicious” attacks on his character and integrity. They call him “a man of greatest intellect, of greatest faith, and of greatest patriotism," and say, "The picture (his critics) paint of the Court and the man for whom we worked bears no resemblance to reality."
To be fair, nothing that liberals say these days bears any resemblance to reality.