Much has been written about whether presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama can overcome his race handicap. But his age may be just as big of a hurdle.
Though Senator Obama is 45 years old, his rail thin boyish figure makes him look much younger to many of us with, shall we say, more traditional middle age builds. His youthful appearance contributes to concerns about his level of experience vis a vis the Democratic field’s front-runner, Senator Hillary Clinton. [Though Senator Clinton’s time as First Lady is certainly relevant, it’s worth noting that Senator Obama has held elective office for 9 years (six state, three federal), while Senator Clinton has held elective office for 7 years (all federal).]
Have older Presidents been better Presidents? Well, I, with the aid of Wikipedia, looked at the top five Presidents in history. According to a consensus of scholars, they are Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Washington and Teddy Roosevelt. The average age of the Fab Five is 51. Then I looked at who the scholars regard as the worst five Presidents in history – Harding, Buchanan, Pierce, Johnson and Harrison. The average age of the Flop Five is seven years higher, 58.
The bronze medalist in this competition, Theodore Roosevelt, was three years younger than Obamba when he entered office. (With that whole walrus ‘stache thing going on, who knew Teddy was young?) And JFK, an enormously popular figure for the Democratic primary voters Obama needs, was a couple years younger than Senator Obama when he took office.
The point is, when it comes to Presidents, older does not seem to have correlated with better. Still, perception is reality in politics. Obama looks very young, and that hurts him in the debate about experience. So, at the end of the day I submit that the lack of wrinkles and jowls on his skin may be as big a problem as the color of his skin.
The solution for Obama? It’s quite obvious. Two words. Walrus mustache.