This is not about presidential politics. This is about the politics of aging.
We begin with the quote of the day:
“Expect open season in the coming campaign for implicitly bashing the elderly as McCain’s political foes and some media personalities stereotype him in ways that are justifiably considered off limits regarding Barack Obama’s race. Still, there is a silver lining for McCain if Clinton’s experience is any guide. Women voters rallied to Clinton in response to the rampant sexism... Democrats and media commentators who relentlessly mock his age could end up rallying elder votes to his side,” Congressional Quarterly political analyst Craig Crawford.
I like Craig Crawford.
But he is too young to understand the older generation. We largely poll against John McCain because we know things. Each of us who has reached a certain age understands the way aging diminishes the playing field. We acknowledge that we’ve lost a step – and we fret that McCain has, too. The White House ages the occupant fast.
The late night comics and some Democrats will not be able to resist pin-cushioning McCain about his age. That’s an opportunity for AARP to step up as our defender and knock down ageism. But AARP doesn’t seem to have the brass. AARP should mount an assault. But they won't. Too cowardly. Just lip service.
So night after night Leno and Letterman will freely mock this genuine American hero. In doing so, the comics mock us all. There is a delicate line between fun and ridicule.
Understand. I’m not voting for McCain. Not for president. But I am pulling for him to overcome the assaults of ageism. McCain could become a symbol for all older Americans if he can figure out how to kick some comedian’s butt rather than playing along with the jokes about being old.
Sure, humor has its place. But try this simple little test tonight when Leno and Letterman do their monologues. Every time they make an old person joke, change "old" to terrible, hurtful, off-limit words like nigger, or kike, or wetback.
Get the point? Stereotyping diminishes us all.