Wednesday, September 3, 2008

MCCAIN AND THE POLITICS OF MORTALITY

Alexander Burns, Politico - Since John McCain announced that first-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin would be his running mate, Democrats have been quick to point out that the 44-year-old governor could soon be just "a heartbeat away from the presidency." The veiled reference to McCain's advanced age is hard to miss.

It's a macabre point to raise on the night when Palin will speak to the convention here - but a look at the actuarial tables insurance companies use to evaluate customers shows that it's not an irrelevant one. According to these statistics, there is a roughly 1 in 3 chance that a 72-year-old man will not reach the age of 80, which is how old McCain would be at the end of a second presidential term. And that doesn't factor in individual medical history, such as McCain's battles with potentially lethal skin cancer. . .

The odds of a 72-year-old man living four more years, or one full White House term, are better. But for a man who has lived 72 years and 67 days (McCain's age on Election Day this year), there is between a 14.2 and 15.1 percent chance of dying before Inauguration Day 2013, according to the Social Security Administration's 2004 actuarial tables and the authoritative 2001 mortality statistics assembled by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Going by the Social Security Administration's tables, that's nearly ten times the likelihood that a man aged 47 years and 92 days (Barack Obama's age on Election Day this year) will die before Jan. 20, 2013.

Using the NAIC tables instead, which factor in the fact that Obama has been a smoker for most of his adult life, a non-smoker McCain's age is still six times as likely to die in the next four years as a smoker Obama's age.. . .

Actuaries are quick to point out that mortality statistics describe broad population trends. They insist the models can't necessarily be applied to individual people. . .

McCain has acknowledged in the past that his advanced age would be a factor in the presidential campaign, particularly when it came to choosing a running mate.

In April, the Arizona senator told radio host Don Imus: "I'm aware of [the] enhanced importance of this issue given my age."

2 Comments:

At September 3, 2008 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actuarial tables certainly wouldn't apply to the President of the United States, who would have access to health care and medical intervention no available to your average Joe 72 year old.

 
At September 5, 2008 8:08 PM, Anonymous Charles said...

I thought McCain had declared that he would only serve for one term?

 

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