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Column: Age Gap A Big Factor In Election

This story was written by Corey Martin, Daily Mississippian

The gap between some things is amazing. Gas prices three years ago. Gas prices now. The credibility of a babysitter on "Jon & Kate Plus 8." The credibility of Michael Jackson as your neighborhood nanny. You get the point.

By the time you cast your vote in the November election, both presidential candidates will have celebrated their August birthdays. Sen. Barack Obama (Aug. 4) will turn 47, and Sen. John McCain (Aug. 29) will turn 72. Now that's a gap.

Plenty of stuff gets dragged into politics' mainstream, but little of it helps the public make an informed decision: "W" the President didn't want to be in the military. Clinton got blazed and kept a mistress in addition to the missus as if he's the only president to perform an illegal search and seizure on a female. (Theory: Bill may have been high that day and got a little sloppy in covering his tracks, but whatever. If he's in town for the debate, keep extra security at the marijuana fields and Sorority Row.)

You don't hear much about the candidates' ages, but it's very easy to see why both candidates want to be president. McCain and his college roommate, Benjamin Franklin, reportedly spent many nights developing ground breaking governmental frameworks. As one of the original signers of the Constitution, he wants the country to head in the direction envisioned by him and the rest of America's forefathers. He also takes issue with the accuracy of "National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets."

Obama, for whom McCain was a regular babysitter, has wanted to be in the Oval Office since he was a young boy. He even spoke about it last week at his high school's Future Leaders of America meeting. I have to say that it was very moving.

In all seriousness, age can add to or subtract from the candidates' popularity. A USA Today/Gallup Poll reveals that Obama is a 2-to-1 favorite in the 18-to-29 demographic. McCain leads Obama 49 percent to 40 percent with seniors 65 and older.

CNN and several other news outlets report Obama brushed over the subject at a Jacksonville fundraiser.

"They're going to try to make you afraid of me," Obama said. "He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name."

In terms of absolute experience, there is nothing that can prepare a person for becoming the United States president. Becoming president is probably like driving a Chevy Aveo for a few years and then being expected to hop in Jimmie Johnson's car and win a NASCAR race.

Obama went on to say, "And did I mention he's black?"

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Obama is being portrayed as an agent of change, because that's what young people are all about. How many 70-year-olds can you see saying, "Let's shake things up?"

Obama's flashy speeches, charisma and energy are at least partly attributed to his age. To keep up with Obama, McCain would have to drink a few Red Bulls, the result of which would be his staff spending the next few hours worrying about his heart.

In January, The Boston Globe reported McCain cited his age as a primary reason he might not run for a second term. "If I said I was running for eight years, I'm not sure that would be a vote-getter," McCain said.

He's right. If the future president gives us a great four years, wouldn't we want him to come back? Wouldn't we want him to have the mental and physical wherewithal to do so?

I'm not saying age will be this election's determining factor, but it's obvious the country needs change, and it'd be nice for the architect to stick around to oversee it. I'll admit it, the idea of having prsidential dinners at 3:30 p.m. and hearing the president saying stuff like "Wilford Brimley is my homeboy" is different.

It might just trickle down to one question: Do you want Matlock to be the next attorney general?

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