"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Old Guys Running Things - Joe Biden And The Geriatric Merry-Go-Round

Bob Mellor was in what probably would be his last decade on earth, although the actuarial tables compiled by the IRS suggested that he might have more years than expected.  The IRS, said his wife, was a good source of data because they wanted to know with a good degree of accuracy how many people would be alive paying taxes. 

"You are only as old as you feel", said his doctor pronouncing him in good health; but Bob replied that numbers don't lie and the IRS, God bless them, gave him only a scant few.  "Look at President Biden", the doctor said; but Harry Phillips, an old man himself but stuck in his traces, still seeing patients, couldn't have picked a worse example.  The poor president couldn't string two sentences together without getting lost in the weeds or tangled in the briars.  

Just yesterday in a speech about diversity, he talked about the lovely Puerto Rican maid who cleaned his Wilmington home.  "She was so neat and clean", the President had said, "a model for her people"; and before the gasps had subsided, he was hustled off stage by his handlers. Try as they might, they couldn't get him to stay on message, read from the teleprompter, and pay attention to Letitia's voice in his ear. 

So Bob wanted nothing to do with old age if the President was any example.  What he - Mellor - wanted was a sweet young thing beside him in bed.  God's greatest irony was to have created men with a short sexual shelf life but long years of desire; and so it was with Bob who thought of sex all day long then looked in the mirror and saw the horrible disconnect.  Unless you were Al Pacino or Robert DeNiro, fathers at 80; or Donald Trump squire of starlets and beauty queens - all men of money and reputation - you were consigned to the chaise lounge only dreaming of sex. 

The Coleman Silk character in Phillip Roth's The Human Stain, an older man having an affair with a woman half his age, is warned by his friend of the hazards of such random encounters.  The woman, not only much younger than he, but a working class, abused divorcee with a promiscuous past, is not in his league, advises the friend to which Silk replies, "Granted, she's not my first love. Granted, she's not my great love.  But she sure as hell is my last love. Doesn't that count for something?" 

On the other hand, thought Bob, there is Peter Levin a man sailing into old age without a thought of women, only God.  "Too soon old, too late schmart", Levin advised him; and it was about time that Bob got women off his mind and paid attention to the back of the beyond.  "Remember Ivan Ilyich", he said.  The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Dostoevsky's story about a man who realizes almost too late that we all die alone, was Levin's go-to, the reference for a man who worried more about what's what than sex with Patricia Jean. 

So what was Joe Biden doing?  Why on earth would he want to run again for president when a) he couldn't string two thoughts together; b) he couldn't figure out what's what if it were staring him in the face; and c) he could have any young thing in bed with him with just a few phone calls by his Secret Service detail, just like LBJ did?

When most men his age are ready to hang 'em up, move to Florida, and spend their days on a chaise lounge on the beach, this doddering old man still won't move over and get out of the way of younger men.  Stubborn son-of-a-bitch, Bob concluded.  The same all over the world.  The big men of Africa, presidents for life, leave office only feet first.  

Even the beloved Roosevelt would have kept on going for a fifth term had he, too, not died in office. Absolute power not only corrupts absolutely but nails you to the seat of power.  "How can I leave when there is so much more to do", Joe Biden's refrain, has been the mantra of every long-serving, entitled leader. 

"Where am I?", asked the President of his wife one morning as he was getting out of bed.  "Why you're in the White House, Joe", Jill answered. 

"Let me brush my teeth first". 

Now, imagine Joe Biden toe-to-toe with Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping over some nuclear issue or war.  Imagine him stepping between Putin and Kim Jong-Un as they negotiate an arms-security deal; or between Xi and Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen over Chinese sovereignty over the island. Impossible. For starters Biden is no Trump, Reagan, or Nixon; then add to this his dementia, and you've got disaster in the making. 

Too soon old, too late schmart belies the notion of wisdom coming with age.  No such thing.  Cynicism, perhaps, history being nothing more than a predictable repetition of the past; but how did such understanding ever stop nukes pointed our way?  Given our hardwired human nature - aggressive, territorial, self-interested, and defensive - behavior by an international bully towards a weakling is not surprising at all, so what's the point of wisdom about it. 

Apparently the mental switch to control temper and rage doesn't get finally set until the age of 25; so a president not much older is far readier to get into and win playground fights than an old man, tottering on his wisdom cane. 

So it's time for Old Joe to leave office.  It has been fun riding on the political merry-go-round for sixty years; but even then, attached as he might be to the fastest, most beautiful horse on the carousel, dismount and go home. 

Old age is overrated and never has been more than ambulatory alte kockers  making their way to the senior center. 


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