Warning: This column is replete with ageism, a hazardous prejudice to have in a nation growing progressively older.
The average American's life expectancy (or, as it's referred to in Washington, the "junior senator") is now a crusty 77 years of age.
The hippies told us not to trust anyone older than 30. What about 70? There are 22 senators who have reached this seasoned plateau; another four are 69. So despite the promise of impending "change," Washington, in reality, still resembles a (painfully slow-moving) gerontocracy.
When I drop dead excuse me, pass away, I expect to have a remote control and alcoholic beverage in hand, a white Cadillac out front, and a rigid belief that government owes me stuff. Politicians, it seems, only stop working to move into correctional facilities or pine boxes. Really, are they so exceptional we can't let them go?
Perhaps some of you will argue that as Washington begins negotiating a new New Deal, it is advantageous to have on hand more than a third of sitting Senate members with firsthand experience of the Great Depression.
According to USA Today, the average age of a House member this term will be 57. That is a day nursery compared with the Senate, in which the average age now stands at 63. Both are the records.
Thirty years after Ted Kennedy griped about Ronald Reagan's advanced age, the man serves as a 76-year-old nine-term senator recovering from brain tumor surgery. Really, is there no one else available in the state of Massachusetts who can drop his r's and vote dependably Maoist?
The average adult would not trust Sen. Robert Byrd (91) to pet-sit the family mutt for fear that the unfortunate creature might accidentally turn up in a chili con carne. Yet Byrd sits on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee (where he doles out massive amounts of taxpayer funds for West Virginia landmarks with "Byrd" in the titles). Fortunately, this session, Byrd has lost his chairmanship to make way for a young whippersnapper in Daniel Inouye, 84, from Hawaii.
And sure, there has been some progress in the Senate with the ousting of Alaskan criminal Ted Stevens (85). The youth movement continued in the House with the ejection of 82-year-old John Dingell from his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to make way for Henry Waxman, who comes in at a stylish 69 years of age.