Dr. Robert N. Butler is the President and CEO of the International Longevity Center. Whether through his many appearances in front of the United States Congress, or his hundreds of interviews with the media, Dr. Butler has worked tirelessly for decades to push population-aging issues into the public discourse. As a gerontologist and psychiatrist, Dr. Butler recognized discrimination against the elderly as early as 1968, coining the term "ageism." Eight years later, the publication of his Pulitzer-prize-winning "Why Survive? Being Old in America" solidified his reputation as someone who foresaw the impact that aging would have on American society. A founding director of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health, as well as the nation's first department of geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. Butler often consults for television and radio. He is the author of some 300 scientific and medical articles. Source: The International Longevity Center
Question: How do you feel about a 70-something president?
Robert Butler: Well, in post World War Germany, they had a man in his 80s named Conrad [Inaudible] and probably played a tremendous role in the clarification and getting rid of narcissism and so forth. In post World War France, Charles de Gaulle also played a big role and in Great Britain Winston Churchill. So, we know that older people can be very, very important. In our country, we also picked a father figure after the war, not quite as old, whose name was [Inaudible] and in 1994 I guess it was, we had Bob Dole, 73, run for President and there were people at that time who said maybe he wouldn't have live out his term if he were elected. Well, he is still alive and it is long since he would have in fact left political office. So, I think the most important thing is function, not age. Probably not a bad idea to pick a good Vice-President and in this country, we have had eight Presidents, Vice-Presidents who became President. So, because…largely because of assassinations rather than through natural death, but it is certainly not a bad idea to pick a strong Vice-President, but I see no reason why capable, functioning older people shouldn't run for President, just as they have done in Europe and have done in societies from time immemorial. <p style="text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal"> <p style="text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal">Robert Butler: Well, I think that we didn’t test Eisenhower, we didn’t test de Gaulle. I am not sure there should be any hard and fast rule on that. As Reagan said to Mondale during their debate, he wasn’t going to hold Mondale's youth and inexperience against him. So, I don't know if…I think we get little too simple minded on such matters.
Recorded on: Mar 17 2008