April 25 2014

National Journal: Why You Can’t Compare Hillary Clinton’s Age to Ronald Reagan’s

Charlotte Hays

We know that the media largely is going to be almost as supportive of Hillary Clinton as it was of President Obama. But this story is absurd:

Why You Can’t Compare Hillary Clinton’s Age to Ronald Reagan’s

One reason you might be tempted to compare the ages of Mrs. Clinton and Ronald Reagan is that Clinton, if elected, would be the same age at the time of her inauguration as Reagan was at his first inauguration in 1981. But don't be fooled by that artificial similarity!

An article in the National Journal explains why you shouldn't compare Hillary's age to Reagan's:

A combination of federal data and a more nuanced approach to calculating Clinton's life expectancy—one that includes her gender, era, and other factors—projects the would-be president living to age 86. That means Clinton would live a full 17 years after taking office, more than enough time to serve out two terms.

Under the same criteria used to calculate Clinton's life expectancy, Reagan upon inauguration was projected to live to 81—12 projected years after taking the oath to Clinton's 17.

I don’t get it. We need to know how long after serving as president and leaving office the candidate, according to actuarial charts, is projected to live?

From a brutally honest perspective, the voter need only consider if the candidate is good to go for the next 4 to eight years. That Reagan had 12 projected years to live at his first inauguration and Hillary would have 17 is relevant because...? The story goes on:

Before Clinton's name entered the conversation, the most recent candidate to face age questions was 2008's unsuccessful Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain. Had he won, McCain would have taken office at 72 and was projected to live another 13 years—four fewer than Clinton.

If McCain, who appears still hale and hearty, has a lifespan of four fewer years than Mrs. Clinton, this matters because…?

I suspect that the real reason that we can’t compare Mrs. Clinton’s age to Ronald Reagan’s is that he was a Republican and she is a Democrat. We don’t need actuarial charts to know that.

Septuagenarian Joe Biden, by the way, has been floating a presidential candidacy. His age has not been mentioned. I suspect part of that is that few take a run by Old Joe seriously. But I also suspect the other reason is that he is a Democrat.

Reagan, by the way, lived into his nineties but suffered from Alzheimer’s. He was a great president, even if the actuarial charts gave him only a dozen years to live after his first inauguration.

Obviously, the mental health of a candidate is an important consideration. I have always thought the emphasis on a candidate’s medical records is overblown. President John F. Kennedy, who was a sicker man than his vigorous public image let on, hid his records. FDR was dying the last time he was elected. He probably knew this and provided the nation with Harry S. Truman as his replacement, one of the great presidents.

The age issue is important when the media and Democrats (but I repeat myself) can use it against a Republican. This article resorts to arcane actuarial data--almost irrelevent in predicting an individual's lifespan--to banish the age issue for Hillary. Still, a sage older president might be nice after President Obama. Unfortunately, I don’t see anybody of that description in the race yet.

 

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