Jamil Smith and Steve Kornacki are probably correct that yet again the liberal-of-the-moment will be touted as a potential presidential candidate:
It’s fair to point out that recently the same kind of rush to make a previously unknown politician in to a presidential candidate before he had even been elected to statewide office worked out OK for Barack Obama. But the odds that someone who hadn’t worked for years to build up political capital, gain experience and position herself for a national campaign would actually become president are quite slim. Compared to the historical record, Obama’s success is an exception.
But even if we concede that a person who’s never won an election, does not have tremendous personal wealth, and isn’t even currently polling ahead of her incumbent opponent could be a viable candidate for president, there’s a more mundane reason that the odds are against Elizabeth Warren becoming president: her age.
People live significantly longer lives today than they did in the first 150 years or so of our history. Medical advances have also helped people in their 60’s and 70’s live healthier and more vigorous lives. And several recent presidents lived long lives: Richard Nixon stayed angry for 81 years, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford lived until they were 93, and Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush are still active at 87 years old.
But look at that list: of the five oldest president upon taking office, only one–Bush–lived more than a few months in to his presidency and didn’t leave office a disaster. Historians consider Buchanan our second worst president. Other than Garfield, who was assassinated, Taylor and Harrison had the shortest presidential terms; Taylor died in the second year of his presidency, and Harrison famously made it only 41 mostly bed-ridden days as chief executive. And the onset of Reagan’s Alzheimer’s probably began well before he left office.
The list of reasons why anyone could become president are always longer than the obvious reasons why they might prevail. Seldom is one, like age, determinative. But whenever anyone’s name is put forward as a presidential contender, their age and health should be one of the first things to assess before deciding they could be a viable candidate. And on inaugural day in 2017 Elizabeth Warren will be two years older than Bill Clinton and George W Bush are today.
Besides, how ’bout we help Elizabeth Warren win what will probably be a tough Senate campaign, see how she does as a Senator, and also get Barack Obama a second term before getting too excited about 2016, OK?