I was reading an article about Lyndon Johnson the other day and was surprised to learn that he was only 60 when he left office in 1969 and 64 when he died, four years later. I had always thought of Johnson as a really old guy, like Ronald Reagan.
This impression may have been partly due to the fact that Johnson had a jowly and weathered look and came from an era when people didn’t bother as much about looking good for the cameras, unlike these days where politicians are under the constant media spotlight and there is an entire industry devoted to making politicians look good. It may also have been the sharp contrast between him and the much younger and youthful-looking president Kennedy that he succeeded. But an important factor may be that I was a teenager then and anyone who was over forty probably looked very old to me.
Another surprise I received recently was about Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford. It turns out that he is only 44 years old. To me he looks much older. Unlike with Johnson, this cannot be explained by my relative youth since I am so much older than he is. I think that it is because he just looks very unhealthy, probably due to all the alcohol and drugs and high living that he seems to indulge in so excessively. He looks like a heart attack waiting to happen.