The Rolling Stones played in Glendale last week, and though a friend offered me a ticket, I passed. Don’t get me wrong: The Stones are terrific and by all accounts put on a helluva show. However, septuagenarian rockers aren’t my thing. The thought of 76-year-old Mick Jagger preening about while bemoaning his inability to “get no girl reaction?”
The jokes write themselves.
In sum, certain professions come with an expiration date after which we ought to gracefully step aside in favor of new blood. Rock stars, porn stars, Starbucks baristas — these jobs favor the young.
The same goes for prizefighting and fighting fires. I don’t care if you compete in Ironman. If I’m trapped in a burning high rise in some awful redo of “Towering Inferno,” please send Crossfit-trained 20- or 30-somethings to the rescue, not anyone inspired to become a first responder by watching “Emergency!” with Randolph Mantooth back in 1972.
Which brings me to Joe Arpaio, 87, again running for Maricopa County sheriff.
Critics may say Arpaio’s age is the least disqualifying thing about the man once described as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” but I beg to differ.
Time having passed Arpaio by represents one of the most pathetic things about his run, which he announced late last month. In an interview with another publication, candidate Arpaio talked up his plan to “hit the bars” and “the streets” to get votes from “the Hispanics” and “the blacks.”
Maybe because I’ve known Arpaio for 25 years and have long found him to be a fascinating stew of ego, braggadocio, ignorance and cunning, I read such remarks less as malevolent racism and more as political incorrectness begat by age.
Arpaio simply no longer understands the rules of public discourse in the same way many folks approaching 90 years old can’t operate an iPhone or a smart thermostat. I get that Arpaio’s past has branded him evil in a wide swath of Maricopa County. I don’t mean to apologize for his conduct — much of it was reprehensible — but I continue to see him as less Klan, more clown.
I haven’t caught a rerun of “Bozo the Clown” lately, but that old kiddie show surely hasn’t aged well. Neither do politicians.
Perhaps you haven’t watched the Democratic presidential debates over the past few months, but I’ve paid some attention.
Four decades separate the field’s youngest guns — 37-year-old Mayor Pete Buttigieg and 38-year-old Rep. Tulsi Gabbard — from the eldest of the bunch, former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who turns 78 in early September.
My thought: Candidates at both ends of the age spectrum seem to suffer in comparison to those in the middle. Whereas younger candidates feel insufficiently “life smart” to hold the highest office in the land, their elders can come across as detached from the concerns plaguing the 90% of Americans younger than they are.
And yes, I include 73-year-old Donald Trump in this calculus as well.
Our Constitution sets various age limits for the American political process. We must be 18 to vote, 25 to serve in the House, 30 to serve in the Senate and 35 years old to run for president. Perhaps it’s time to affix an age maximum to run for elected office. I’m thinking 70 years old sounds about right.
Of course, age is an advantage in some professions. Would you take advice from a 24-year-old marriage counselor? Me neither.
I want my attorney to have gray hair and war stories. The same goes for my psychiatrist and my investment advisor. But I prefer my presidents, sheriffs and rock stars to have read about Methuselah, rather than considering him a peer.
David Leibowitz has called the Valley home since 1995. Contact email@example.com.