John McCain Too Old?

Senator John McCain told off a kid who asked whether he was too old to be president.

An unflinching John McCain was told Tuesday by New Hampshire high school students he might be too old to be president and too conservative to be respected. McCain, the Arizona senator whose presidential bid has stumbled through the summer, countered the Concord High School students with humor.

“Thanks for the question, you little jerk,” McCain joked back to one student who asked the 71-year-old about his age. “You’re drafted.”

Actually, while his delivery on these things is always odd — he loves to call people “jerks” when joshing around — it was clearly lighthearted. Here’s the video:

And, truth be told, the kid was being a jerk.

“If elected, you’d be older than Ronald Reagan, making you the oldest president. Do you ever worry you might die in office or get Alzheimer’s or some other disease that might affect your judgment?” one student asked. The audience groaned; McCain slid into a joke. “I think it was one of my sons that alleged I’m getting to the point I hide my own Easter eggs,” McCain said to laughter. “When you saw my 95-year-old mother (on a video introduction), you saw the kind of genes I have.”


“I came here looking to see a good leader,” 16-year-old William Sleaster told McCain, earning himself boos from his classmates. “I don’t.” McCain, a veteran of such candid exchanges in New Hampshire, smoothly pushed forward and told the crowd not to disrespect its peer. “I understand. I thank you,” McCain said. “That’s what America is all about.”

Indeed. Although a little more respect might be appropriate when addressing a United States Senator 55 years your elder who spent five and a half years being tortured in the service of his country.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    As me auld mither says “Have respect for the cloth if not for the man”. I’m afraid those days are gone.

  2. James Joyner says:

    I’m afraid those days are gone.

    So it would seem.

  3. NoZe says:

    We can only hope this young jerk will be too young to vote next year! Maybe he’ll learn some manners by 2012!

  4. Steven Donegal says:

    While perhaps a little rude, the kid spoke the truth–McCain is too old. I suspect that is one of the unspoken reasons that his popularity has waned since 2000.

  5. anjin-san says:

    I am just stunned that a Republican went into a room that had not been scrubbed in advance.

  6. Anderson says:

    Weren’t the North Vietnamese just using enhanced interrogation techniques?

    If they *did* torture McCain, was it pursuant to a duly issued warrant?

  7. Tlaloc says:

    The kid was tactless in how he put the question, but then again apparently it was a high school kid. They aren’t know for tact in the first place.

    That said the question is both relevant and moot. Relevant because McCain would be very old, and the office is a stressful one. Despite the revisionist history Reagan didn’t exactly run a great Whitehouse (you know pesky things like his staff selling weapons to iran and funding nun raping death squads in central america, to say nothing of the Mujahadeen and Saddam being on the payroll). Reagan probably legitimately didn’t know what his own staff was doing, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement, now is it?

  8. Tlaloc says:

    Doh, forgot the “moot” part.

    It’s all moot because I have a better chance of winning the republican nomination than McCain.

  9. cian says:

    The kid spoke honestly, expressed himself with eloquence and showed balls. As one would expect from a man of McCain’s quality, he recognised this and responded with understanding.

    Laughable to note that while this kid’s manner is deemed important enough to post on, Addington’s comment that we are one bomb away from getting rid of the FISA court gets zilch.

    Priorities guys.

  10. Bithead says:

    It was clearly lighthearted

    And that question aside, what kind of politics are we dealing with when John McCain of all people, is to be considered “too conservative”? McCain is right; the kid’s a complete jerk. But I’ll bet that McCain wouldn’t agree with my reasoning.