The post about John McCain’s troubling performance during the Comey testimony inspired this thoughtful comment by dragin_dragon, a self-professed senior citizen (although I had no idea), on the related topic f officials knowing when age and/or infirmity create an ethical obligation to step down and retire in the interests of society.
The confounding factor, and one that becomes a powerful rationalization for those who want to stay on in important positions long after their metaphorical pull-date, is that many of them can truthfully argue that their age-ravaged abilities are still better than most of the younger alternatives. Or, as my sister said during a discussion on this topic, “I’d rather have Justice Ginsberg with half her marbles than anyone Trump would nominate.” I bet that’s how Justice Ginsberg is thinking too. Then there was that attorney with a drinking problem who everyone in the firm agreed was twice as good as any attorney in the firm when sober, and 50% better when drunk as a skunk.
Does that mean the firm should be satisfied if he’s drunk all the time? Isn’t this the same as the age diminished once-brilliant judge?
A topic for another time. Meanwhile, here is dragin_dragon’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Public Servant Ethics, Employment Ethics, Baseball Fan Ethics, And Senator John McCain”:
There comes a time in anyone’s life when it should be obvious that it is time to “Hang up the guns”. In my own life, I am but 71, and I am seeing numerous anomalies in my behavior (walking into a room and wondering why I am here) and in my rational thought (I suspect most who have read my comments sometimes have the same question). I am getting to where I lose debates to my wife on a regular basis (she’ll tell you I’ve always done that). More to the point, I am AWARE of the beginning deterioration. I am wondering if John McCain and Ruth Ginsberg are.
Another thought had occurred to me, however. After realizing that there was some slippage, I have refused an opportunity to run for Alderman and for Mayor of our little newly-incorporated city, because I honestly did not feel I would be able to do the job, either of them, justice, either mentally (what’d you say my name was again?) or physically. I’m winded some mornings after tying my shoe-laces. However, I am reasonably certain that narcissism plays little part in my personality. I suspect it is a BIG part of most elected officials (city, county, state, national) personalities. The idea being “Nobody but ME can do this job properly”, or in some cases, “Nobody but me can do this job, period, well or poorly.”
I suspect that this is where John McCain, Ruth Ginsburg and I part company. I KNOW I’m a ‘senior citizen’ and cannot do many of the things I did many years ago (win bar fights, win debates with my wife, remember what I was saying…I have been known to forget what I was saying in mid-sentence). I don’t think they ARE aware of it. And this worries me a little. In so far as I am aware, and this was never my field of practice, there have never been any longitudinal studies on the attitudes of either narcissists or sociopaths as they grow older. I believe that needs to happen, if for no other reason so that we can point to some hard data when trying to limit the damage done by someone who refuses to retire when he/she should.
Yes, as evidenced by his rambling, nearly incoherent questioning, and Ruth’s refusal to recuse after admitting bias both need to retire, today. My guess, the framers never expected anybody to live long enough to get this senile. But it is happening, and we need to take some steps to deal with it. One Senator might not gum up the works too badly; one SCOTUS Justice…much more likely.