FLOTSAM & JETSAM: Why I'm not running for president

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Why I'm not running for president

Sam Smith – I won’t be running for president next year. The reasons are mostly the same that have kept me from running in the past: Nobody has asked me to run, I couldn’t raise the money or the votes to win, and I would hate the job. 

This year, however, there’s an added reason: I’m old.  

I turned 81 back in November and the thought of even running for my town council seems absurd. This despite the fact that I have lived a exceptionally healthy life, interrupted only by a weight lifting accident some decades back and prostate cancer in the early 1990s

But a couple of years ago, as I was moving a portable generator around, I did something to my back that set off irreversible signs that my days of doing whatever I wanted, such as regularly pumping iron or bouncing around in a small boat, were over. I had already “swallowed the anchor,” a term for those of the sea no longer comfortable there. I had sold my boat because of my lack of predictable balance and adequately fast response. 

Since then I have become a slow moving, slow step climbing arthritic careful of what I do next. 

Why am I bothering you with this? Simply because this personal transition has occurred in precisely the same time period that would represent the administration of a Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders if they were elected next year. Sanders would turn 80 in 2021 and Biden in 2022. 

Admittedly neither I nor they suffer from amnesia or other gross mental deficiencies of the present younger White House incumbent, but the changes that have occurred in my energy, balance, enthusiasm and drive in the past few years makes me wary of trusting the whole nation to someone of my ilk. 

I recognize the statistical inaccuracy of using my experience as a formula and I realize, for example, that Raymond Kelly, New York’s police commissioner, was born four days before Bernie Sanders. Nevertheless, it’s a fair issue to raise and see what the candidates do about it. Clearly picking the right vice president is at the top of the list. 

I admire Sanders and Biden for their efforts – in Sanders’ case back to the 1980s when he was mayor of Burlington Vermont for four terms - and hope I am no prediction of their future condition. But it’s something worth mentioning  and thinking about.