That’s a funny headline from the Onion, but the ancient Iowan seems safe for re-election to an eighth term six-year term …
… assuming he lives one more week until election day, which is probably an even-money bet.
Grassley is 89 years old and will probably be the president pro tempore of the Senate if the GOP wins. It is an honor usually accorded the senior senator of the majority party, and a position Grassley previously held. That’s largely an honorary position, but we often forget that it stands third in line to assume the Presidency behind the VP and the Speaker of the House. The current order of succession is Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Patrick Leahy. If the GOP takes control of both houses, the order of succession would likely be Kamala Harris, Kevin McCarthy, Chuck Grassley. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s not really our all-star team.
Grassley would not be an automatic selection and there are no constitutional mandates to guide the selection. The choice of the senior senator of the majority party as pro tem is merely a tradition, not a requirement. The constitution does not even require the position to be filled by a member of that chamber. As senate.gov notes, “Although the Constitution does not specify who can serve as president pro tempore, the Senate has always elected one of its members to serve in this position.”
The same is true of the Speaker of the House. The members can vote for absolutely anyone. To make a radical example, a GOP-controlled House could elect Donald Trump as Speaker, which would give him a tremendous amount of power over investigations of himself and his enemies, as well as great power over the government’s purse strings. (Despite the fact that we have lionized and even apotheosized the Founding Fathers, they could not possibly have foreseen every possible pitfall of democracy.)
Speaking of ancient politicians, why did we start to elect these old geezers?
Joe Biden is the oldest man ever to sit in the oval office, and he assumed that title on the day he took office. Biden was already older at the beginning of his term than Reagan was at the end of his.
At 78 years and 61 days, he was by far the oldest man ever inaugurated, breaking the previous record by 7 1/2 years.
Should Donald Trump get elected in 2024, he will break the record for oldest inaugurated, and should he live through that term he will then break the record for oldest ever to hold the office!
(And of course Biden would also break his own records should he run again and win.)
There are not many up-and-coming young political superstars. Ron DeSantis is 44, Buttigieg is 40. Behind them the ranks are thin.