Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) is a physician in addition to being a Washington politician. He recently told Axios that he favors tests for politicians and officials in all three branches of the federal government to make sure they are cognitively functional, especially as they reach old age.
Many of the leaders in our federal government are getting up there, including President Biden, 78, Speaker Pelosi, 81, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 79, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, 70, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), 88.
Sen. Cassidy, a gastroenterologist, said that when people get into their 80s, they “begin a rapid decline” in cognition. He said that he wasn’t singling out any particular persons but was generally speaking. He added that speaking as a doctor, it’s “usually noticeable” when someone in a position of responsibility might be “on that slope.”
Cassidy is not known as the strongest firebrand in the Senate. That title might belong to his fellow statesman Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA). Still, he certainly had some particular older politicians in mind when discussing when cognitive decline becomes evident in some persons.
The Supreme Court has long been a subject of discussion about the capacity of its oldest members to continue to function at their best. The federal judiciary is the one branch where appointments are for a lifetime.
The goal of protecting judges from the political process and the possible influences that ordinary elections would have on their independence is vitally important. However, some commentators have suggested that a single long term with full retirement benefits as a judge might be better than having a judge work in their 80s or even 90s without any “check-up” on how well they are still functioning in their work.
Although Washington has turned into a permanent home for most political classes who dream only of making it big in the federal government, it is all but sure that the country’s founding fathers never imagined a federal city that would become a final destination for “public servants.”