Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett, 62, has had a fair bit of questioning about his age recently. He even saw fit to respond to the chattering yesterday, saying he felt “bound to say something”.
“I’ve been accused of?.?.?.??being too old, apparently I’m not well, I have a bung eye, apparently I’ve had five days off during the campaign. Just none of that is true at all,” he said.
His opposition, WA Labor, took the opportunity to have another whack at him. On Twitter, former opposition leader Eric Ripper wrote: “Is Colin Barnett (62) really going to lead WA Libs into the 2017 election if he wins on Saturday? That would take him to 70.”
The whole thing rather reminds me of the 1984 presidential debate between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale, who later said it was the moment he knew he’d lost the debate.
Asked a question about his age, and whether he’d be able to stay up for nights as Kennedy had to during the Cuban missile crisis, Reagan responded he would.
“I want you to know I will not make age an issue of this campaign,” he told the moderator. “I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”
The audience laughed, and America duly re-elected Reagan. Who, it turned out, likely had Alzheimer’s at the time, though it did nothing to slow his comedic timing.
Maybe Barnett should heed the tactic.