In today’s Opinion Journal, Peggy Noonan rebuts a Novak slam on Senator McCain:
Bob Novak did a column this week saying John McCain’s fund-raising has been slowed because of the concern of potential donors that he’s too old to run for president in 2008. I don’t believe it. In a solid year of hearing people talk about the ’08 possibles, I have never heard anyone say McCain is too old. Nor have I heard anyone do the weaselly I have a feeling people think he’s too old. McCain is 69. He always seems bouncy and bantamy, in part because of the tight way he holds his mouth, like someone who’s trying to keep something wildly interesting from popping out of it.
But he is also not too old because every adult in America seems to have decided over the past 10 years that everyone’s age has been officially pushed back a decade. Decades have been redefined. When we were kids, 50 was old. Now it’s not. Sixty was even older; now it’s the beginning of age. Seventy was semiancient, now it’s hale maturity. Eighty is still antique, but that will change.
I have been thinking lately, by the way, of this: When they ran against each other for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, George W. Bush was the conservative and McCain the moderate maverick. Now, five years later, who looks more conservative? McCain, who worries about spending, regulation and immigration, or Bush? Funny how things change.
Noonan is correct to dismiss concerns about McCain’s age, but she doesn’t deal with his almost compulsive need to distance himself from the base –voting this week against exploration in ANWR, leading the Gang of 14 instead of leading the fight to confirm Judge Alito, refusing to bring up the obvious disaster that was his masterpiece of campaign finance reform. McCain’s candidacy will not survive a string of GOP-only primaries, and anyone who pretends shock at that result in ’08 will have refused to collect or study the obvious data.