By CHUCK OFFENBURGER
DES MOINES, Iowa, August 14, 2015 — I was just trying to bring a little clarity into this race for president, you know? That’s how I wound up in the crowd in front of the Des Register’s Presidential Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday afternoon, listening to Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley, 52, the former governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore. And that led me to raising my hand in the Q&A, getting called on, telling O’Malley I think Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are “too damn old” to be running for president, and asking him why he doesn’t talk about that more.
“You’re standing in the middle of the AARP section,” O’Malley first said, with some surprise, noting there were several people around me wearing AARP T-shirts. I wasn’t there advocating for AARP, by any means, but I did tell O’Malley I’m a member — just so he had an idea of my own age (68).
“Hey, thank you,” he said then. “Good advice.”
Martin O’Malley speaking at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday, Aug. 13.
Then he did talk about the age factor, how he does feel that he’s “a voice of a new generation” in Democratic politics. He did a pretty good job on that.
I notice the Des Moines Register, the newspaper that knew me when, headlined their story of the O’Malley event with this: “O’Malley positions himself as new voice.” My bet is that there’s going to be more traction in that for him with Iowa voters than on any particular policy position he stakes out.
Let’s talk. I am enjoying the heck out of this presidential race which we now have playing out in front of us on a daily basis in Iowa. I’m a registered “No Party” voter after earlier involvement in both the Democratic and Republican parties. I regard myself as a pro-life progressive. So where am I right now on finding a candidate? I’d say I’m leaning toward O’Malley — I have been from the beginning of this cycle — but I don’t rule out the possibility of winding up caucusing as a Republican for Jeb Bush.
I don’t expect there’s any candidate whom I’ll agree with on all issues.
So here are a couple things I’ve been watching as this race develops in both parties:
–The Republicans are in many ways becoming more the next-generation party. Look at the ages and diversity of their presidential candidates. The “Grand Old Party” is impressive that way.
–Meanwhile, the Democrats are, except for O’Malley, looking more like the “Grandparents Old Party,” white ones at that. Disappointing. And even more disappointing is that their ages are just not being discussed.
So, here they are: O’Malley, as I said, is 52. Front-runner Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady, is 67. The candidate attracting the largest crowds, amazingly large crowds, Bernie Sanders, the U.S. Senator from Vermont who is not even a registered Democrat, is 73, a week from being 74. Jim Webb, former U.S. Senator from Virginia and former U.S. Secretary of the Navy, is 69. Lincoln Chaffee, the former U.S. Senator and former governor of Rhode Island, is 62.
Let’s dream a little here, and project each one of those Democrats getting nominated and then elected president, then re-elected. So add eight years to each of their ages. OMG!
I have nothing against old people. I am enjoying becoming one myself. But let me say this to peeps of the same vintage I am: Please, let’s have a little better sense of knowing when to leave the stage. Let’s enjoy turning things over to the next generation, offering advice when asked and otherwise trying to stay out of the way.
We have had our turn in leadership and in the bright lights, and we Baby Boomers have indeed learned that we are not the Greatest Generation. We’ve tried hard, we’ve done some good and we’ve had some disturbing failures. Let’s now turn it over to the next generation, and the next, and hope they do better.
So back to Martin O’Malley. Here’s the rest of his response to my “good advice,” as reported by the Register:
“After you get a chance to meet everybody, you usually winnow down the field,” O’Malley said of the caucus process. “And in a Democratic Party that has a gravitational pull toward the future, that choice usually narrows down to a choice between the inevitable frontrunner, who is ‘inevitable’ right up until the first contest, and the voice of a new generation, who most of the country has not heard of before.”
That’s sort of where he finds himself right now.
O’Malley went on to say he’s already been in 25 of Iowa’s 99 counties, and that he intends to spend time in all of them, representing that new generation.
“That is our theme,” he said, seeming to warm up to the idea the more he spoke. “Look, it’s about new leadership, it’s about a new generational perspective. Our world has changed. This is not the Cold War. This is not the Vietnam Era. This is a new world.”
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