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John McCain's age really does matter

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Any one of us who has had a friend or family member slip into the mental decline of age-related dementia or the early signs of Alzheimer's, recognize those alarming early symptoms, which are the predictors of what is to come. The victims often have a characteristic vacant look in their eyes and seem to avoid direct eye contact with others. As we all watched during the first presidential debate and in interviews later, John McCain has begun to exhibit these tell-tell symptoms, as well as other noticeable signs which include erratic behavior, a lack of judgment skills, barely controlled anger, memory lapses and even total confusion. These symptoms are tragic for anyone to have to deal with, yet most of those who are affected are already retired, or after the symptoms become noticeable to others are soon forced to retire. It is very unusual for one of these senior citizens to take on a more demanding job at this most precarious time in his or her life.

Those of us who closely follow politics have watched as the once quick-witted John McCain has become distracted and confused. He lacks the ability to think and respond quickly to even the most straight-forward questions. This should have American voters terribly concerned. McCain, once credited with being a foreign policy expert, can no longer claim that advantage, and chalking it all up to having an occasional "senior moment" just won't cut it any longer.

He has repeatedly confused the Sunni and Shia in Iraq and can't remember which group is helped by Iran or which would be potentially members of al Qaeda. He even thinks that Iraq and Pakistan share a common border. And he is constantly confused about how many American troops remain in Iraq after the "surge," and is rather unsure about whether the U.S. will be able to maintain a long-term presence in that country or not. He really isn't sure if we need more troops in Afghanistan, although the U.S. military seems to be very clear about that necessity.

In addition to this confusion, McCain thinks that the recent conflict between Georgia and Russia was probably the first serious crisis, internationally, since the Cold War. He believes that Czechoslovakia is still a country and says so. He does not know that there is a difference between Somalia and Sudan. After a recent trip to Germany, he referred to the leader there as President Putin of Germany.

He is also very confused about America's relationship with Spain and its current leader Zapatero. He was clearly oblivious to the fact that Spain is a U.S. ally, as well as a member of NATO. He didn't seem to realize that Spain is located in Europe and not in South America as he indicated that it was.

For John McCain to just make a few foreign policy gaffes as a presidential candidate is alarming enough, but when each day the list grows longer, it becomes more disturbing, and the reasons why we should question John McCain's qualifications to be president this time around becomes clearer and clearer.

On top of his obvious decline in cognitive skills, McCain over the last decade has suffered terribly from major health problems. He has had four separate bouts with the most deadly form of skin cancer-melanoma. The fact that he had surgeries to remove them each time doesn't preclude the fact that very often this type of cancer either recurs or spreads.

McCain always trots out his 95 year-old mother Roberta to try to validate his family history of longevity. He never mentions the fact that his father died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 61, or that his grandfather succumbed to the same fate at the age of 70, younger than he is today. These two latter examples may be more of an accurate predictor of his own health, since he is a male.

As people age, they typically are prone to more health problems and age-related memory and cognitive deficits get worse not better over time. The job of President is demanding and difficult and can be both mentally as well as physically challenging. At the age of 72, the elderly John McCain no longer possesses the required qualifications for office.

This moment in our country's history is not the time when we can take chances and hope for the best when choosing our next president, particularly when John McCain showed a total lack of judgment by putting the incompetent Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from taking over in the Oval Office.

 

I am a retired college English instructor, and retired weekly Op-Ed columnist for my local paper. I now spend my time as a political activist, occasionally writing for online progressive publications and working for candidates and causes that I (more...)
 

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McCain's age is a major concern, or should bec... by Dale Jensen on Monday, Oct 6, 2008 at 4:57:25 PM
How in God's name, did this man even end up in... by Linda Bailey on Monday, Oct 6, 2008 at 6:21:50 PM