The other day, Donald Trump was filmed yelling in a crowded Dairy Queen ice-cream shop in Iowa: “What the hell is a Blizzard?”
The answer is that it’s a popular selection at one of America’s favourite fast-food chains, and it’s a bit like the McFlurry at McDonald’s – soft ice cream with other sugary stuff mixed in. So popular in the US are Blizzards that the news anchors watching the clip burst out laughing. They then started talking about their favourite toppings and mix-ins: Oreo cookies; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup; M&Ms.
A few may have thought that this lack of knowledge of Dairy Queen culture proved that while Trump likes to position himself as a regular guy who relates, he’s actually a grifter who knows and cares nothing about the lives of ordinary people.
Others might have thought that Trump – who was 40 when Blizzards were introduced – is just acting like anybody 77 years of age in asking “what the hell is that?”
A better question than “what the hell is a Blizzard?” is “why the hell is the US being governed by a gerontocracy?”
Example: the median age of senators is 65. Don The Con is 77 years old. Joe Biden is 80. Five of the Supreme Court justices are 75, 73, 69, 68 and 63.
When I was a baby boom teen, back in the 1960s, we had a saying: “Never trust anyone over 30”. A 30-year-old was seen as out of it, past it. Not relevant. Dead. Now the US is being led by us. The boomers. The elders.
On a recent panel, I heard myself yell to the assembled throng: “Where the hell are Generation X?” Forgetting that I was on stage with a Gen Xer. And, as the person attempted to explain why he and his cohort were largely absent on the field of leadership – in the US at least – the audience (majority boomers, and yelling back) asked the same question.
Back in the day, 50 was when you were on top of your game, in your prime, running the whole thing. Now? Not so much. Why?
In the US, Generation X is considered to have been born between the beginning of 1965 and about 1980. President Barack Obama, who some assume to be Gen X, was born in 1961, so is really a late boomer. Vice-president Kamala Harris, born in 1964, is considered Generation Jones, as in “keeping up with the Joneses”. These kids always had TV; a phone in the house. Gen X are the MTV generation; the “ET go home” folks; the latchkey kids who let themselves in after school because mom was at work.
We have not had a Gen X president yet and we may never have one. Among Democrats, Gen Xers like Martin O’Malley, Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker have run and failed and, as Booker said last year, a millennial like Pete Buttigieg might get to the White House before Gen X does.
There is some Gen X on the Republican presidential candidate slate: for example Florida governor Ron DeSantis, 46. His poll ratings are low, but his campaign funds are high. He would, if elected, be the youngest POTUS since JFK.
But he won’t be nominated as the Republican candidate for president, and neither will former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, age 51; senator Tim Scott, 57, or anybody else. The candidate will be a boomer: Donald Trump.
If Trump is not on trial, next year will be a rematch between him and Biden. I think I can say that the majority of Americans are not looking forward to a battle between a cult leader and a guy who mixes up names and places, and trips on stage.
Haley has called for age limits for candidates for the presidency. You have to be 35 to serve. But there is no top end. Biden is asking voters to keep him in the White House until he is 86.
But there are two Joe Bidens. There is the one awakened at 3am on a trip to Asia and told that a missile had struck Poland. Knowing that if this was a Russian strike, an attack on a Nato ally might expand the war in Ukraine, he gathered together his top advisers, got the Nato secretary general on the phone, called the president of Poland, and rallied other world leaders.
Then there is the other Joe, who can’t remember his grandkids’ names or where they are. Yet speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, admitted that Biden was on top of his brief during default negotiations.
We all mess up from time to time, but a person almost 80 raises questions. What is the truth of who Biden is – is it the stumbling, bumbling “foggy Joe”, or is he “Dark Brandon” – the hip old guy grinning in shades as seen in a million memes; a play on the slogan coined two years ago when a racing commentator said he could hear the crowd chanting “Let’s Go Brandon” (they were actually chanting “Fuck Joe Biden”).
The truth, of course, is that Biden is very different from the man he was half a century ago. But unlike Trump, he exercises every day, is trim and neat, and jokes about his age and his gaffes. Trump, who is more erratic and more prone to weirdness than Biden even though he is four years younger, would never do that.
Regular readers will know that my name is Bonnie because I was born 48 hours after the second “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, now Charles III. Do I think I’m still young enough to be POTUS? No, and this is the reason why: technology.
The Apple Store is down the street from me. I live in there. They all know me, with my phone and my questions, as I gingerly hold this lifeline like a lethal eel. This device is alien to me.
I have a friend whose granddaughter used her phone without her knowledge. My friend then saw some guy on her phone who had sent the granddaughter a message. And the way he talked is not the way a grown man should speak to a 10-year-old.
She reported him, they found him. They found out her granddaughter had managed to reset the phone’s password, using her fingerprint.
Technology is a new generation gap. AI is the dividing line. A new country. And this new country needs leaders who understand technology and are a part of it.
In this new world, I think 65 is old enough to have the wisdom of age and the youth to still grasp what needs to be understood. It should now be the limit for president of the United States. Old enough to have a bit of life under your belt; and young enough to give a damn about how AI works.