Time Takes Its Toll, Regardless of Your Place on the Totem Pole
I was being driven around the countryside of the County of Essex one day by my English friend, Richard Milton, when we passed a large, level field with some slender airplanes sitting in a line. “What’s that?” I asked him. “Oh, they’re gliders, waiting to be launched by a tow plane.” “Do we have time to stop and watch them a bit?” “Sure,” he said, turning the car around and pulling into the edge of the field with the other cars.
As we approached the line of gliders on foot Richard spotted the cutest pilot in the line and went straight to chat her up. I tagged along. When he had struck out I said to her. “Could you please tell me approximately how long it takes to learn to pilot a glider?” She seemed relieved to hear a non-predatory question and replied, “The conventional wisdom maintains that it takes you the same time in hours as your age in years.”
“Wait a minute,” I blubbered, “do you mean to say that my 18-year-old son would take only 18 hours to learn, but it would take me 50?”
“Yes,” she said nonchalantly, “that’s it.”
The Case of the American President
Donald Trump was 70 years old when he was sworn in last January, the oldest president ever to take office. Just six months ago he began his first governing experience–at the top of the pyramid. There’s a lot to learn, especially for a beginner in politics. It’s like sitting down for the first time in the pilot’s seat of a jumbo jet at the age of 70 and being expected to fly it. It’s only natural that he should have learning issues. Granted there have been distinguished elder statesmen who functioned at very high levels, but all of them began in government or diplomacy when they were much younger. None of them tried to initiate their careers at the age of 70. It’s unthinkable.
As well as learning problems in a man’s eighth decade there are health issues. This is when his coronary arteries begin to rebel, along with his prostate. Type 2 diabetes tends to appear. Early signs of senile dementia like short-term memory failure creep up. Weight problems are aggravated. The risk of stroke increases. Hip joints go. All of these afflictions affect one’s energy level, morale and, inevitably, work capability. It can’t be a simple matter to face a diplomatic crisis while undergoing a urinary obstruction. None of this, of course, is a man’s fault, but it happens as inevitably as sunset.
This is the situation that President Trump finds himself approaching right now at a high rate of speed.