Victor Davis Hanson

In contrast, our culture's heroes -- in literature, film and the military -- get things done precisely because they do not care all that much what happens to them as a result of their courageous decisions. In that regard, Calvin Coolidge's decision to seek just one elected term is a far better model than Richard Nixon's two.

Age may be also a factor. We are a youth-obsessed Camelot culture that puts far too much stock in good-looking candidates who act hip, jog or seem robust. Clinton was only 46 when he entered office, Obama just 47, and Jimmy Carter 52.

In a time of increased longevity, perhaps we should reconsider the advantages that six decades of experience might offer. Harry Truman (60), Dwight Eisenhower (62), and Ronald Reagan (69) seemed far steadier presidents. Their skepticism and perspective may have resulted from long careers of seeing almost everything -- in addition to regular afternoon naps.

The youthful 40-something John F. Kennedy was impulsive in the same fashion as the reckless and similarly inexperienced Carter, Clinton and Obama. The second time around, presidents in their mid-60s probably would not be so eager to paw comely interns or in naive fashion boast that they could "fundamentally transform America."

Can we also take a breather from the Ivy League?

When Obama finishes his term, we will have had 28 consecutive years of presidents with either an undergraduate or graduate degree from Harvard or Yale. We should have learned from chronic deficits, massive debt and Obamacare that the Ivy League's best and brightest are not always either. Truman's higher education came from the school of hard knocks. Ike graduated from West Point and helped win World War II.

Reagan slogged it out for years in the cutthroat worlds of Hollywood and television -- after graduating from tiny Eureka College.

Finally, can our next president have done something for a while other than nonstop politicking? The press caricatured Ike's garbled speeches and Reagan's B-movie reruns. But at least they did not go uninterruptedly from one political office to the next until being elected president.

Youthful charisma, the Ivy League, career politicians and two presidential terms in theory may be fine, but next time around can we take a needed break in 2016 from what have become our presidents-as-usual?


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.