Ezekiel Emanuel, a highly respected doctor and an architect of Obamacare, is also well known for saying that he doesn’t want to live past the age of 75. He explained why in an article for The Atlantic:
[H]ere is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long. . .renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.
Why did Emanuel select 75 as his desired termination age?
[T]he fact is that by 75, creativity, originality, and productivity are pretty much gone for the vast, vast majority of us. . . .It is true, people can continue to be productive past 75—to write and publish, to draw, carve, and sculpt, to compose. But there is no getting around the data.
The only thing Emanuel believes most people over 75 can contribute to society is “mentorship.” Leadership is out of the question.
Yet, as Wesley Smith observes, Emanuel serves as an adviser to Joe Biden’s campaign. Biden is 77.
To be sure Emanuel acknowledges the occasional exception to his rule that by age 75, we are faltering, in decline, and thus unable to contribute to work, society, and the world. But is Joe Biden among the exceptional ones in this regard?
It’s difficult to ask the question with a straight face. At times Biden shows flashes of his old, never particularly formidable, self. At other times, though, he has trouble putting two sentences together. He frequently confuses facts and his memory often fails him. John wrote about some of these problem here, here, and here.
Indeed, as Smith points out, Emanuel’s description of the mental capacity of those older than 75 fits Biden all too well:
Even if we aren’t demented, our mental functioning deteriorates as we grow older. Age-associated declines in mental-processing speed, working and long-term memory, and problem-solving are well established. Conversely, distractibility increases. We cannot focus and stay with a project as well as we could when we were young. As we move slower with age, we also think slower.
I don’t agree with Emanuel’s grim assessment that, for most of us, the ability to lead a useful and productive life ends by age 75. For one thing, Emanuel puts too much stock in when scientists reach their peak. The fact that people aren’t winning science prizes in their 70s, or even their 60s, isn’t solid ground for Emanuel’s overall pessimism.
This year, two major candidates past the age of 75 sought the presidency. A third candidate who will be past that age in January 2024 seeks reelection. A fourth who will be on the cusp of age 75 by that time also ran.
Three of the four — Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Elizabeth Warren — showed no sign of diminished capacity. Only Joe Biden did.
Ezekiel Emanuel has chosen to advise Biden. The best advice he could offer is for Biden to withdraw.