Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Canard of Tragic Presidential Aging

The presidency doesn't age people. Age ages people.

In 2011, I wrote about how it was the hippest time in history to be 48. Being the same age (give or take a year or so) as Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Obama, all of whom (whatever you think of their politics) seemed like cool dudes, felt like gravity defied.

But a mere four years later, we were all around 52, and Jon Stewart was saying that people frequently come up to him to ask "if he's okay," Colbert began using an awful lot of makeup, and I reported that I look like I have one foot in the grave.

But people naturally pay a lot more attention to the president:

This is simply what happens in your early 50s. Though you feel exactly the same, there's a bizarrely rapid plunge in outward appearance. It strikes others as meaningful; they attribute it to your cumulative pressures and defeats. And, non-coincidentally, that's what we say about presidents. That poor man! Look at how the burdens weigh upon him!

The saving grace is that we ourselves can go on feeling like the same people, because we, blessedly, don't need to look at ourselves! As I wrote at that last link:
Aging isn't tough; the hard part is people having more and more trouble seeing who I actually am. But I can't blame them. Appearances, after all, are the main thing they have to go on. If I had to look at me all the time (instead of existing obliviously nestled behind my own eyeballs), I'd surely have the same impression!

I'll save you the trouble of googling presidential ages.

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