Cardella: Life Does Not Begin at 80


By Tom Cardella

Dear Reader, since the last time you read this column I’ve turned the ripe old age of 80. 80?!? I don’t view reaching this milestone as some kind of personal achievement. Seems more a sign that medical science doesn’t care who it saves anymore. Let me dispose of the quaint notion fostered by the title of an old radio series — life does NOT begin at 80 (unless we begin counting our birthdays in reverse from now on). As Brendan, a wise sage and former colleague on this newspaper once told me, I have now become my real-life Uncle Nunzi.

There’s a reason my age is described as “ripe.” But if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not go into it. Be that as it may, I am in reasonably decent shape, although my heart at times does seem to beat as if it’s the rhythm section playing THE ELECTRIC SLIDE. And I am learning that age does have its privileges — riding SEPTA free of charge being just one of them.

I’ve reached the age where I can say or write outrageous things without offense to most people. It’s a privilege I try not to take advantage of. It saddens me to think that at this age one tends to be ignored rather than provocative. I do not agree with the adage that “if you’re not a liberal at 25, you have no heart, but if you’re not a middle-aged conservative you have no head.” One should never lose one’s compassion because they grow older. And having a heart does not necessarily mean you’ve lost your head. Besides which, if you’re a supporter of President Trump, you’re no conservative.

One of the worst things that has befallen conservatism is that it’s been co-opted by Donald Trump. Being pro-dictatorships, anti-free trade, anti-immigrant, and the rest of the ugly trappings that go along with Trumpism is not being conservative. Just because you hate Nancy Pelosi for some vague and undefined reason doesn’t qualify you as a conservative, either. As for climate change, Trump claims that he’s too intelligent to believe in it.

I prefer to view our absurd state of affairs with humor leavened by the sarcasm it deserves. For instance, there’s the tendency of our President to now refer to himself in the third person. I have a theory that people who refer to themselves in the third person are trying to distance themselves from their obnoxious selves. If you refer to yourself in the third person, folks may forget that you’re that person. Mr. Trump now refers to himself as “President T.” To you, the “T” stands for “Trump.” To Stormy Daniels the “T” stands for “tiny.”

The President assures us that our troops are using only “minor” tear gas in gassing migrant children at the border. This is not just another fabrication by the President. Tear gas used against minors can only be described as “minor” tear gas. And even though it’s the same tear gas used against adults, Trump claims it’s not as dangerous. If you looked the other way at Trump’s policy of tearing away immigrant children from their parents, why should the use of tear gas against children surprise us?

The Saudi Prince who instigated the murder of a Washington Post journalist, according to Trump’s own CIA, is given a pass. The Saudis are applauded by this White House for keeping oil prices low. The bottom line is our credo. Our intelligence agencies flatly conclude that North Korea continues to build its nuclear capability, but our President doesn’t agree. He admits that he’s fallen in love with Kim. Putin has hacked our elections and is in the process of seizing Ukraine. Fake news according to Trump.

For those of you nit pickers who don’t like it that Melania has decorated the White House with rows of red Christmas trees, remember that red is the color of the day in Washington. Russian red is clearly Trump’s favorite color. President T yearns to be another Putin. We can only hope he doesn’t begin posing bare chested.

The only way you can make sense of this President’s statements is to view them through a funhouse mirror, which is to say keep your TV tuned to Fox News. To paraphrase my mother, Trump lies and Fox News swears to it. Last week while President Trump was telling the press that he had brought millions of manufacturing jobs back to America, GM was announcing that it had laid off 14,000 of its workers less than a month before Christmas and after reaping the goodies from Trump’s tax cuts. The Dow — that holy barometer of Trumpian success reacted with big gains.

Trump likes to boast about gains in the stock market, but even that claim is proving hollow. Despite the short- term gain brought about by the GM layoffs, the stock market continues to tank. Should we root for more Christmas layoffs for others so the rest of us can protect our IRAs?

I have found that advancing age does not necessarily bring with it wisdom. The current inhabitant of the White House is immutable proof of it. Advancing age guarantees nothing except creaky bones.

If arthritis were wisdom, I’d be Socrates. And if eating buckets of KFC and acting like an ass made you wise, Trump would be Plato.