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Alex Beam

No country for old men (or women)

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, ranking member Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, and Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont before a Judiciary Committee meeting on Sept. 28.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

The vast and powerful oldsters’ lobby, the American Association of Retired Persons, plans to launch a new advertising campaign decrying ageism. The AARP, which claims almost 40 million members, already sponsors a “Disrupt Aging” campaign, featuring an 86-year-old artist/app designer, a 77-year-old CrossFit competitor, blah blah blah.

After witnessing the disgraceful Brett Kavanaugh spectacle, I am pro-ageism, plain and simple. Who are these decrepit codgers purporting to run our country? Let’s name names: Senators Chuck Grassley (85), Orrin Hatch (84), Dianne Feinstein (85), Patrick Leahy (78), and Mitch McConnell (76).

How could anyone watch these geezers puzzle their way through their own prepared statements, as if they were ransom notes written in Farsi, and take them seriously? I love it when a young staffer leans over one of these senators’ shoulders to reassure them that yes, a bathroom break is coming right up.


Picking a new Supreme Court justice is an important job. To think that we’ve entrusted it to these doddering schmoes, who deliberate with all the gravity of Morty Seinfeld’s co-op board in the fictional Florida retirement community of Del Boca Vista on “Seinfield,” is disgraceful.

This is worse than a gerontocracy. This is more like a gaga-cracy.

Can you imagine visiting America from a normal country and watching our politicians in action? Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, arguably the most powerful woman in the world, is 64, eight years younger than Donald Trump. Prime Minister Theresa May of Great Britain, who is also the legislative leader of the Conservative Party, just turned 62. Nancy Pelosi, May’s opposite number in the Democratic Party, is 78.

Sixty-six-year-old Vladimir (Not Your Dad’s Bod) Putin is still wrestling tigers, or whatever they do over there in Russia. His Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, is 65.


Then there are the leaders of countries you might actually want to live in. Iceland, which actually jailed crooked bankers after the 2008 financial meltdown, just installed a 42-year-old Left-Green party leader, environmentalist-pacifist Katrin Jakobsdottir, as prime minister. Canada’s 46-year-old Justin Trudeau needs no introduction, and Denmark’s energetic prime minister, 50-year-old Moderate Birgitte Nyborg , does an amazing job balancing demands of family and state in Copenhagen.

Oh, wait. Nyborg is the fictional star of “Borgen,” the fantastic Danish TV series you can stream on iTunes or YouTube. Lars Rasmussen is Denmark’s actual prime minister. He is a ripe old fellow of 54.

I’ve got nothing against senior citizens. I’m a year away from collecting Medicare. I’m ecstatic that the 80-year-old Jerry Brown is running California, and that the 85-year-old Chita Rivera will be performing in Boston this Saturday.

But these clownball politicians need to heed the example of novelist Philip Roth, who retired from writing seven years before his death, at age 85. Roth told The New Yorker in 2012: “I am 78 years old, I don’t know anything anymore about America today. . . . If I write a new book it will probably be a failure. Who needs to read one more mediocre book?”

Who needs one more display of mediocre, subpar leadership by America’s superannuated solons? Vote often and vote young. I certainly plan to.

Alex Beam’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @imalexbeamyrnot.