Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sen. Frank Lautenberg is not running again and Hillary Clinton will be just the right age to be president

By Richard K. Barry

New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg made it official this past week, announcing that he would not seek re-election in 2014. A Democrat, Lautenberg is 89 years old. 

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has been sniffing around the seat likely after concluding that Gov. Christie would be too hard to beat. 

Even at Lautenberg's advanced age, it must be hard to get pushed aside. Even if he had no intention of seeking reelection, one has to assume that capitulating to lame-duck status a moment before it is absolutely necessary must be difficult.

In a statement, Lautenberg said this:

I am not announcing the end of anything. I am announcing the beginning of a two-year mission to pass new gun safety laws, protect children from toxic chemicals and create more opportunities for working families in New Jersey.

Speaking about Booker's ambition for the Senate seat, Lautenberg has said, "I’d encourage him to finish the job that has to be done in Newark. We still have a lot of violence, we still have a lot of inconvenience."

Still, a recent Monmouth University poll has Booker well out in front of the incumbent in a hypothetical contest with a 40 to 25 percent lead and with more and more voters considering Lautenberg's age a liability.

Age is becoming a tricky thing in politics. Perhaps it has always been. The only issue ought to be the extent to which a person is healthy enough to do the job. 

It may be true that age doesn't always suggest wisdom, or relative youth debilitating inexperience, but they are not the worst measures. 

Okay, I won't make any friends saying this, but I'd rather national politicians have some miles on them. Consider that the age required to be president is 35 and 30 for a senator. Consider then that the average life expectancy in the 18th century, when the U.S. Constitution was written and ratified,  was probably 40ish.  That would certainly suggest that the Framers expected presidents and senators to potentially be nearer to the end of their life when they served. 

The average life expectancy now is about 78, which I think means that 68 should be the required age to be president (based on some quick math and ratios and stuff) -- more or less precisely the age Hillary Clinton will be in 2016.

Just a thought. 

Anyway, good luck Sen. Lautenberg with the time you have left to serve and any other projects you choose to pursue after that.

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