Words Between The Lines Of Age; where “The Daily Show” got it wrong

Words Between The Lines Of Age; where “The Daily Show” got it wrong

First of all, I don’t consider Jon Stewart one of the best political commentators of our time. I consider him thee best political commentator of our time. His mind is uniquely suited to frame complex issues with logical deductions from a common sense perspective and bring into focus the shortcomings and hypocrisies of policies and politicians.

He dials up information from his oversized brain and compares outcomes faster than a bullet on a speeding train. I’d hate to be in an argument with him and fortunately I’ve never disagreed with any premise I’ve heard him espouse.

Not until last week. I believe it was his debut back with The Daily Show and I watched, as I did years ago, to compare talking points I’d probably be using myself on current issues. The topic was age. Specifically the age of the two men running for President (are there others?), Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Stewart pointed out, very humorously, how they were the two oldest candidates in history- FOUR YEARS AGO!! And here they are running again.

No one could possibly assume that Stewart was softening on the horror of a Trump presidency, but his editorial was pointing the finger at the Democratic Party for not cultivating a candidate who wasn’t within 10 years of death (that was not a Jon Stewart comment).

Stewart’s editorial expounded on recent assessments of Biden as losing cognitive function and questioned the President’s fluff appearance before the Super Bowl instead of taking the opportunity to speak as the leader of the free world to the free world.

The implication being, of course, that the President’s staff doesn’t have confidence in him. Many Democrats have come out since to criticize Stewart for making the President even more vulnerable to Trump, who Stewart and any other sentient human being, despises. Stewart defended himself by making it clear that his intention, and his obligation, is to tell the truth and the President is clearly showing the effects of advanced years. Stewart’s intention, I gathered, is to champion the naked truth as the best salvation of our democracy.

And if that is his directive, he is right. What I don’t believe, however, is that he found the truth.

I believe that most of America has become convinced, hypnotized, or seduced with a false belief. And this mass indoctrination perfectly fits into the narrative of a young nation lacking in the substantive philosophies procured from thousands of years of cultural existence. And what we are convinced of is the irrelevance of experience; the wisdom unique to age. America’s obsession with youth has elevated physical reflexes to an importance above moral acuity.

This was from last week’s issue of Slate: “Governance is not an action film. There is no minute-to-minute psychodrama involving someone in a tight black T-shirt mincing along the outdoor ledge of a skyscraper, ninja-kicking his lonely way down to the stairwell, where he karate-chops the well-armed baddies and then commando crawls his way into an empty vault with the glass chest where the nuclear reactor sits. No. Despite our fascination with the Great Man theory of American lawmaking, the presidency is an office that largely turns on superb staffing, visionary planning, deft political negotiation, and artful execution. Joe Biden doesn’t actually have to remember every single detail himself—he has to use his judgment to employ and empower a large contingent of skilled experts to execute upon their agreed-upon vision.”

We are a culture (if we can claim one at all) that stands in opposition to most cultures around the world. In China, age is revered. It is the reward of living and is honored for the wisdom years provide. A proverb in Gambia says: “When an old person dies, a library burns to the ground.” On this soil there is the culture of Native Americans who view the elderly as protectors, mentors, teachers, keepers of wisdom, and intergenerational transmitters of cultural knowledge.

That sounds like what the job description of an American president should be.

Joe Biden is old by any measurement of a person who’s younger than a century. It is undeniable that his speech has become more cautious as age can diminish the ability to control his stutter. We’ve seen him less able to bound up stairs. And he probably forgets things, maybe names. I’m 66 and I forgot a close friend’s name the other day. Those mental mishaps can become more frequent as we age. And so what?

Does anyone think the President is going to accidentally pick up the “Red Phone to Russia” and order a pizza? Or mistake the briefcase with nuclear codes as his backgammon set?

Does Jon Stewart think that? I doubt it. But his diatribe about Biden’s age sets up that irrational fear that somehow Biden’s wisdom and experience have diminished into doddering mental mush evidenced by the fact that he forgot a name or stumbled up the stairs.

I don’t despise Donald Trump because he’s old or even because he rambles aimlessly. I despise his policies, his rhetoric and his despicable personality. I have not embraced every position of President Biden nor every policy directive, I choose to judge him for many accomplishments that align with my own ideology and for having the persona of a decent and wise human being.*

At 81.

*(I offer this postscript: President Biden must use that wisdom and counter political expediency with regard to the continued bombing of Gaza. His words that “Netanyahu’s response has been over the top” must be turned into action. An immediate and total cease fire is the moral course and is essential.

While that is only my opinion, I cannot forgive any president from the responsibility of saving lives)

Published by gary1164

I'm an advertising executive and former actor/producer