116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Age is on the ballot this fall.
When I worked in the U.S. Senate in 1963, one senator ate lunch in the staff cafeteria, generally alone or sometimes with someone on his staff. He pushed his tray on the silver bars, pointed at what he wanted like the rest of us. He did that instead of joining colleagues in the elegant ding room reserved only for Senators, their guests and serious talk.
Five years later, that senator, Carl Hayden of Arizona, announced his retirement, saying "Among other things that 56 years in Congress have taught me is that contemporary events need contemporary men.” He had been in the House for 16 years and then was the first senator to be elected to seven terms. He knew, at 91, he had stayed too long. The time is here, senator. He should leave the ticket and the Republican Party should replace him.
Chuck Grassley is 88 and has served since 1975 in the House and Senate. He should have listened to Hayden before running again this year. Ecclesiastes tells us, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.” That includes senators and the Senate.
Adding Hayden to the Bible there is a strong message, although clearly unheard here and now. It is time for Sen. Grassley to go, at least on Election Day since he hasn’t gone before. A Republican substitute would be on the ticket, but It is the time for us to elect Mike Franken, a retired admiral in our navy.
I would vote for Franken if his highest rank in the Navy was as Seaman First Class and his main duty was emptying slop buckets over the tail of the ship. But, of course, neither of those is true. He was Admiral Franken, a military leader, a defender of our country if needed, a rural Iowa kid of achievement.
Yet, I hope the vote may be not only on Franken but even more on Grassley — his age and his silence on Donald Trump from the start and during these current days of disclosure.
Looking younger than you are and functioning well hides the truth. I know. I am 94, look younger, can do pushups, but don’t do things as well and easily as I once did. I take some pills, shoot up with insulin, sleep longer, walk carefully, and forget a few things for at least a few minutes. That is what Sen. Grassley and I have in common. He simply doesn’t look his age, but he is 88, and would be 95 at the end of his term. Pushups of which he is so proud are as relevant as getting successfully to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
An 88-year-old Superman may shout “Up, up, and away,” but his feet never leave the ground, his cape hangs down his back unruffled. Old senators, no matter how wise and experienced they are, show their age. That is an important consideration when we next vote. but there are positive reasons to vote for Franken who is ideologically like John Culver and Dick Clark were in their day. At their ages, they were contemporary then. Grassley is not contemporary now.
Norman Sherman of Coralville has worked extensively in politics, including as Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s press secretary, and authored a memoir “From Nowhere to Somewhere.”