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Opinion/Editorial: Age has benefits in leadership

Opinion/Editorial: Age has benefits in leadership

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What do Queen Elizabeth (95), Janet Yellen (74), our president (78) and the pope (84) have in common?

How about (Ohio governor) Mike DeWine (74), Jerry Brown (83) and Lamar Alexander (80)?

They are all public men and women who are making major contributions in what once would have been thought their dotage.

They are not “hanging on” or “still going strong,” but, arguably, doing their best work.

The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died at 87, but was working full tilt, fully employing her little gray cells, up until almost the very end.

George Will is 80 and better than ever.

Mark Shields, 84, is much missed as a weekly news analyst. He could say more off the cuff than most commentators could after extended study and preparation. Why? Accumulated memory. He’s seen it all in politics.

All this is not only cheering news for geezers themselves, but it suggests that a special contribution can be made by the veterans among us.

A geezer has often honed his or her knowledge, his or her passions, and his or her anxieties and insecurities.

What historian Jon Meacham has said about Mr. Biden is that this is a man who has known tragedy and who thought his political career was over. He no longer sweats the small stuff.

Brown was 73 when returned to the governor’s mansion in California after 28 years. He and got into politics in his 20s. He is 83 now and left office just two years ago.

Mr. Brown learned from his youthful errors and had grown relaxed and wise. He didn’t need a pollster or a handler to tell him what to say in a press conference or how to cut his hair. And he did a fine job on his second tour of duty.

Europeans, traditionally, have had more respect for the elders of their culture and politics and were more willing to invest them with power. Think Konrad Adenauer in post-World War II Germany. He became chancellor at 73 and held office for almost 17 years.

Charles de Gaulle was president of France from 1959 to 1969. He was 69 when he took office and was viewed as an old man. He had long been a national legend after leading the Free French in the war. His greatest chapter was to come.

Churchill was returned to No. 10 Downing Street at the age of 77. He was not in great shape physically. But Churchill at 50% was worth most men at 500%.

Mr. Biden understands the Republicans, and the Hill, and the shelf life of a presidency. And he can talk to a cop or a factory worker. What gave him those gifts? Simply his years.

Look at Willie Nelson (88) or Bob Dylan (80). Both are still recording.

And is there a better, or more prolific, film director than Clint Eastwood? At 91, he is about to release a new film he also stars in. Clint is looking around for his next project.

John Huston made his final, and best, film “The Dead” as a dying man on oxygen. The tank did not interfere with eye or ear.

No finer cellist ever existed than Pablo Casals at the end of his days.

Here is what the old may offer: A certain calm. Fewer fluctuations of the mind. Less likelihood of going down rabbit holes. An ability to focus on the long view and things that really matter. Winnowed learning. A true aim.

Excerpted from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP. Editorials published from other sources are offered in an effort to share additional opinion and information.

This editorial was corrected on June 14 to reflect that Mike Dwine is governor of Ohio.

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