Age and the Presidency

Is there such a thing as being too old to be President? Without coming out and saying so directly, Ronald Feinman says an argument can be made that the answer must be 'yes.' 

In his article, "Is Trump Too Old to be President," he points to a history of older presidents like Reagan, who allegedly left office showing signs of dementia, to argue that Trump is too old for the office. In fact, he suggests that some of Trump's more bizarre behavior, like his counterproductive tweets, could be signs of the same kind of mental decline Reagan may have experienced. 

Feinman writes, "But for the security and stability of Presidential leadership it would be wise if we had such an age limit – or at least established a norm that would discourage politicians outside the age parameters from running. It is simply common sense, based on history and the reality of the pressures of the job of being President of the United States." 

But doesn't this argument make assumptions about age that are difficult to prove? He cites William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor, both of whom died in office, as evidence of the problems of older president, but they served well over a hundred years ago and died of illnesses that are curable today--not as a result of their age. What can they tell us about the modern presidency?

I find Feinman's argument to be ageist and unconvincing. To use Mitt Romney as an example, had he won in 2012 and been re-elected in 2016, he would be 70 years old today. That makes him one year younger than our current President. I can't think of any reason that Romney would be physically or mentally unfit to serve his country. In fact, I imagine many of us would gladly see him sitting in the Oval Office these days.

Joking aside, I agree completely that an individual's health, in all respects, should be a factor in his or her serving as our president. But I disagree that we should institute a maximum age for service. In the event that a hypothetical president ever showed signs of dementia or an inability to perform the duties of the office, we have the 25th amendment to resolve the matter. If anything, we should insist on full disclosure of candidates' health records, rather than simply ruling them out because of their age.