With John McCain clinching the Republican presidential nomination last night, I have already heard three different studio “experts” on three different TV stations this morning question whether he might be too old to be president. McCain will turn 72 in August.
In fact, as Ryan Cole pointed out recently in The Wall Street Journal, some of the world’s greatest leaders have been around McCain’s age, or older. Among them:
Winston Churchill was 70 in 1945 when he defeated Nazism, and became British prime minister again in 1951 at age 76. He then took on the Soviets in Cold War battles until leaving office in 1955, aged 80.
Konrad Adenauer became the first postwar German chancellor in 1949 at the age of 73, remaining in office until his retirement at age 87. He helped forge a modern democratic Germany from the ashes of Nazism.
Charles de Gaulle was 68 when he assumed the French presidency and 78 when he left office. He oversaw the creation of modern France and reached a ceasefire with the Algerian National Liberation Front.
Golda Meir was 70 when she became Israel’s prime minister, serving until she was 76. She took on the PLO after the massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes, and presided over Israel’s victory in the Yom Kippur War.
In 1994, Nelson Mandela – after 27 years in prison – became South African president at the age of 75. He guided his nation’s transition from apartheid to democratic rule until his retirement aged 80.
Each of these leaders skillfully steered their respective countries through momentous times and each had a great impact that continues to this today. It is, of course, up to each individual to choose who they think would make the best president; but age should certainly not work against McCain, and may even work for him.