American Opinion: Nikki Haley's 'test' idea is a nonstarter, but America's aged leadership is an issue

From the editorial: In any case, the transparently self-serving proposal by (Nikki) Haley, 51, reportedly has already backfired with older Republican voters, a key block in the GOP.

Newly announced Republican candidate for President Nikki Haley during a town hall on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Exeter, New Hampshire.
Newly announced Republican candidate for President Nikki Haley during a town hall on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Exeter, New Hampshire.
(Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/TNS)

How convenient that presidential hopeful Nikki Haley’s proposed mental-competency test for politicians would kick in at age 75 — just below the age of her only other announced Republican opponent, former President Donald Trump, and a few years below incumbent Democrat Joe Biden. Since the Constitution already specifies age criteria for federal elective office (minimum of 25 years for the House, 30 years for the Senate and 35 years for the presidency, but with no upper limit for any of them), Haley’s idea presumably couldn’t go into effect without a constitutional amendment.

In any case, the transparently self-serving proposal by Haley, 51, reportedly has already backfired with older Republican voters, a key block in the GOP. If this is an example of her political instincts on the national stage, she shouldn’t expect to last long.

Still, Haley has raised an issue that voters in both parties may soon have to confront.

Biden, 80, is already the oldest president in U.S. history. If, as expected, he runs for reelection, he would be 86 by the end of a hypothetical second term. While there has been no medical prognosis indicating loss of cognitive ability, no one who watches Biden’s speeches today could honestly deny his age is already taking a toll. And Trump’s erratic behavior seems only to be getting worse with age.


American Opinion
American Opinion
Tribune graphic / Forum News Service
More American Opinion:
The Justice Department should ask Cannon to recuse herself, and if she refuses, it should appeal for reassignment of the case.
From the editorial: The right to marry whom you love should not be subject to the whims of an out-of-step conservative court or be left to a patchwork of state regulations. Congress must make the Respect for Marriage Act the law of the land.
From American Opinion editorial: Enter the Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force, a nationwide effort that’s being made to investigate and take legal action against companies who bring foreign robocalls into the United States. The coalition includes attorneys general from all 50 states.

There’s much to be said for the benefits of experience, but it does seem odd that the ages of so many in the nation’s political power structure are double or more the nation’s median age (38, according to the census). More than one-sixth of the U.S. Senate is 75 or older. The oldest, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., 89, plans to retire in January 2025. The second-oldest, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also 89, has filed for reelection in 2028.

We’re certainly not siding with CNN morning host Don Lemon, 56, who took a brief hiatus recently after opining that Haley’s idea made no sense because she’s in her 50s and “a woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s.” His female co-hosts looked on in astonishment.

On the other hand, America is currently under the yoke of a radical-right Supreme Court in part because octogenarian Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg refused demands from fellow liberals to retire during Barack Obama’s presidency so he could appoint her replacement, then died during Trump’s presidency. Her ill-timed death and replacement by a conservative also served as the death knell for abortion rights.

As for Trump, 76, we would argue that demonstrable concerns about his psychological stability and temperament long predate any concerns about his age — but he, too, will have crossed into his 80s by the end of the next presidential term. And it’s not like those additional years are going to make him more fit for office.

This American Opinion editorial is the view of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board. Send feedback to:

©2023 Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

More Opinion:
From the editorial:
Agweek publisher Katie Pinke writes how we could all use more of the traits that her father-in-law Eldon exudes.
This cartoon is the opinion of the cartoonist Kevin Siers. Send feedback to:
From the commentary: There is a way, meanwhile, politicians can put themselves in charge: They can buy the business.
From the commentary: Parents are witnessing the fallout from these political attacks on teachers as districts resort to substitutes and larger class sizes because they can’t hire enough staff.
From the editorial: "Competitive pay can ... (ensure that) badly needed, dedicated troopers can be recruited and retained to replace those who’ve left or are leaving, whether via retirement or for better opportunities."
Editorial cartoonist John Darkow draws on the groundhog's correct prediction for six more weeks of winter in 2023.
From the commentary: The divisive rhetoric permeating the political landscape today is even filtering down to what used to be less partisan areas — like official White House and congressional accounts.
From the commentary: As bystanders in the political farce consuming much of the Republican race for president, we can give thanks that DeSantis has decided to battle against the sinister forces of wokeness and leave the important issues pretty much alone.
From the commentary: The fact that most Americans speak only English puts our country at an economic disadvantage and threatens national security if we cannot understand and analyze potential threats such as terrorism or contagions.

What To Read Next
Get Local


Local Sports and News