Presidential Succession

Posted by Mike Merritt in Politics on

Like many people, I learned about Presidential succession in school, in the case that the President should die in office.  It goes VP first, then Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, etc.

Patrick Edaburn over at The Moderate Voice brings up an interesting point regarding succession, particularly about the two current options for President Pro Tempore:

This post is currently held by 90 year old Robert Byrd of West Virginia. If the Republicans were in charge the post would be occupied by 84 year old Ted Stevens of Alaska.

I have nothing against the elderly and know many senior citizens who have done some truly great things. But if we are dealing with a major crisis that resulted in the death of the President, the Vice President and the Speaker of the House I am not sure we would want someone in their 80’s or 90’s to take over.

I think Edaburn has some good points.  Is a man or women that old fit to serve for the Presidency?  Several arguments can be made to that extent, though I think both Byrd and Stevens could do it.  Still, it does bring up questions.  Consider that a lot is being made out of John McCain’s age.  I could see some of the same questions being asked if Byrd or Stevens were to get closer to the Presidency.

Interestingly, the President Pro Tempore was the original position that was second in line to the Presidency in the 1792 act.  It was removed from consideration entirely in the 1886 law, then put into third place in the 1948 law.  From 1792-1886, the holders of the position were younger.  However, since people generally died younger as well, you have to wonder if a 66 year old in 1848 was the same as an 84 year old now.

While I’m not entirely convinced that an older person acting as President is inherently bad (I believe this of John McCain), I agree with Edaburn that it is something to look at.

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