Lindstrom: A letter from one old guy to another


Ray Lindstrom is a member of the Arizona Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame and a retired writer and lecturer. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Dear Joe Biden,

I hope you will forgive the informal greeting here. I realize it would be proper to address you as Mr. President or perhaps Mr. Biden. But, today, since I am older than you, I think I will use a more familiar tone. Old-age privilege, I guess.

I have been a supporter of yours for years. I remember putting a kernel of corn in your jar at the Iowa State Fair during the Democratic primary in 2008. You got my vote three times for national office.

I have not been disappointed in your achievements. You did what I expected. First, you were clever enough to win against an incumbent president. That, in itself, was a big deal. Next, you did plenty that I agreed with — rebuilding our infrastructure, lowering prescription prices, managing the lowest unemployment rate in history, getting us back to respect on the world stage. I could go on and on.

But now, it is time to look at the future. I am 81; you are a year younger. I know the signs of old age. It’s not the years; it’s how one appears. The years take their toll physically and mentally. It’s all about how we look, how we sound.

Harrison Ford and Mick Jagger are right here with us. It looks like they are doing the same energetic things they have been doing their whole lives. No problem. They still have it. Al McCoy, the voice of the Phoenix Suns for 51 years, just retired last spring. He was 89. I heard his last broadcast. It was as good as his first one in 1972. Amazingly, he didn’t miss a beat. He knew when to quit. For him, it was 89, and he only had to sit in front of a microphone three or four times a week. He didn’t have the responsibility of running the world’s most important country.

The great comedian Jerry Seinfeld knew when it was time to end his great sitcom. He was only 44 years old, and the network even offered him $100 million for one more year. He turned it down. He knew when it was time to leave.

Joe, I see you walk, and I hear you talk. Don’t be like Willie Mays and embarrass yourself by trying to add one more term to a brilliant career. It’s time to hang up the cleats, while you’re on top. You’ve done the job. You’ve reached the pinnacle of success. You’ve accomplished so much. It’s time to retire and let the young folks take over.

I know some will say I am practicing “ageism.” Yes, I am, but because I am old myself, I am entitled to do this. It is not “appropriation.” One old guy to another; that’s what this is.

Even the person who probably will run against you, Donald Trump, seems younger, though the difference is just three years.

What I am saying is, everybody is different. The number of years is not the point. In my eyes, when I look at you, I see a man who is fragile, who looks older than his years.

In a few weeks, you will be in another brutal race for the presidency. It is an important election. Oh, and of course, you will be doing that besides leading our nation as chief executive. Tough for anybody at any age. Mix in some family problems, and I just don’t see how you can do it.

Finish on top. Walk away from the microphone. Hang up the cleats. It’s time.

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