An old friend of mine who lives in California sent this to me this morning and while it's six weeks after McCain's birthday, I thought it brought up some worthwhile thoughts that were worth sharing. All of us who have stepped, jumped, stumbled, limped or crept into our 70s can recognize the things he talks about, but if we "ordinary" folks can recognize how these things affect us and whatever tasks we take on, why is it that John McCain has so much difficulty recognizing them?
Happy Birthday Wishes to John McCain
As we celebrate our respective 72nd birthdays it is apparent that we have a lot in common. You were born on August 29, 1936; I was born two days later on August 31st. While you went to the Naval Academy, I attended Stanford and we both graduated near the bottom of our respective classes. We were commissioned as Naval Officers in 1958 and each of us failed in our first marriages. Luckily, however, we both are now happily married to successful women who each are over 18 years younger than we - quite a challenge to keep up with them, and a real incentive to enjoy life after 72.
While I cannot claim an experience comparable to five years in captivity in Vietnam, it is apparent that our Navy service has substantially affected our lives. You recovered from your captivity to become a lobbyist for the Navy and then a Congressman and Senator. After the Navy, I "grew up," applied myself, headed the University of Chicago Law Review and became a trial lawyer. We both have been life-long Republicans and we both personally knew and were influenced by Barry Goldwater. We both believe in service to our country, but have we learned to recognize our limitations?
Where we differ - John - is that I know that I am too old to be President of the United States. From every indication, you are too.
There is a reason that nobody our age has previously run for the highest office in the land. I am much too old to be a CEO of a major corporation. How many captains of industry have assumed the helm at age 72? And, as you more than I know, by 72 virtually all of the Generals and Admirals have been sent off into retirement. What I absolutely do know John is that I am now too old to run a major law firm or to try a major case as lead counsel. Where I used to bill over 2,000 hours a year and work late into the night and on weekends, now I am awake late at night contemplating my prostrate. It's not a complaint, John - just a fact of life - I just don't have the stamina anymore to work the hours required of a chief executive much less as our nation's President.
While unlike you, I regularly use the internet, I recognize that technology is passing me by and I must rely upon others to do things I used to do well myself. While I have been in good health, exercise strenuously and play hardball in a league with players as young as 30 year olds, I am just not what I used to be when it comes to dealing with a crisis or working long hours. Each morning as I climb out of bed my aching limbs remind me of my age and mortality. Given your POW experience and medical history, I cannot imagine that you are not experiencing the same.
I also find that my memory is slipping. I have always had excellent recall, but now and again I am frustrated by the fact that I am occasionally drawing a blank when seeking to remember a name or event. I can still come up with the information, just not as quickly or as accurately. In that connection, I often find myself either embellishing or confabulating events of my past life. Those old stories just keep getting better and I find myself telling them over and over again to the point of tedium. I also find that I am less diplomatic and more prickly than before, so I fully understand your frustration in dealing with that Time writer who wanted to know your definition of "honor." From observing you throughout this campaign I know that you are sharing my experiences. At 72 we should not have to explain ourselves and we have earned the right to lose it occasionally. That said, however, John I am not sure that approach works in diplomacy or that it is appropriate for the President of the United States.
John, we both have a wealth of experience in our chosen areas of endeavor and we have much to contribute based upon our age and experience-but I know that given our age we both have blind spots in dealing with the challenges of the 21st Century. Our experience can only take us so far - at some point we must pay our respect to father time. That is the reason why, in business, law and politics, age matters.
John, on our 72nd birthdays I wish you well for a long and distinguished career in a role that is appropriate for our age - the United States Senate.
With all best wishes and Happy Birthday,
William A. Wineberg
Stanford, Class of 58
Attorney at Law
150 Post Street, Suite 742
San Francisco, Ca. 94108
Phone: 415 434 1200
Fax: 415 296 8552
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