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Old 09-05-2019, 09:34 AM
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Physiologically and mentally, how tough a job is the presidency?


It's often said that the presidents age rapidly while in office, but when taking all factors into account, is it a stress level comparable to being an NFL head coach? Maybe an air traffic controller?

Food = you get great food and it's all prepared for you, so there's that.
Sleep = You could probably mandate 8 hours of sleep for yourself if you wanted and insisted. Don't know about prior presidents like Bush or Obama, but Trump appears to be indefatigable or an insomniac/night-owl type.

Travel = constant. You are in an airplane, helicopter or car constantly. Lots of jet lag from trips to Asia, Middle East, Europe, and back.

There is always the threat of assassination, which can't be good for you mentally; that being said, there hasn't been a serious shooting attempt on a POTUS' life since 1981.

Having to do "presidential things" = this, I think, is the biggest stressor. You are dealing with half of Congress and half of the nation that vehemently opposes you, regardless of whether you are D or R. You have to make countless phone calls, speak at fundraisers, give commencement addresses, everything you say or do is under intense scrutiny.
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:08 AM
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Like being an air traffic controller, except 24/7 for years at a time. Combined with being an actor who is not allowed to leave the stage for more than a few hours at a time over the same period, plus managing the largest company in the world, where all the people under you have their own agenda, and regularly meeting with the board of directors, half of whom want to get you fired. Keeping in mind all the time that, if you make the wrong decision, lots of people will die, whereas if you make the right decision, people will still die and you will get blamed for it.

And you have to live in public housing.

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Shodan
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
There is always the threat of assassination, which can't be good for you mentally; that being said, there hasn't been a serious shooting attempt on a POTUS' life since 1981.
Even so, the threat means that you essentially live as a prisoner to a group of armed guards. You can't move freely, and you lose the ability to do pretty much anything on the spur of the moment.
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:26 AM
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Any idiot can do the job. We have one in that job right now.
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:48 AM
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Depends on how seriously you take the job. If you have only concern for yourself, it probably isn't stressful at all. Any idiot can sit on the toilet and tweet, then lay in bed watching cable news. Having responsibility for life and death decisions are stressful only if you give a shit about other people. So while it ages people who aren't kleptomaniac narcissists, it certainly hasn't affected Donald at all.

Guys who do take the job seriously age quite a bit.
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Old 09-05-2019, 11:53 AM
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Depends on how seriously you take the job. If you have only concern for yourself, it probably isn't stressful at all. Any idiot can sit on the toilet and tweet, then lay in bed watching cable news. Having responsibility for life and death decisions are stressful only if you give a shit about other people. So while it ages people who aren't kleptomaniac narcissists, it certainly hasn't affected Donald at all.

Guys who do take the job seriously age quite a bit.
My thoughts exactly down to the last period.

Last edited by Buck Godot; 09-05-2019 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 09-05-2019, 11:55 AM
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My thoughts exactly down to the last period.
Mine as well.
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Old 09-05-2019, 12:03 PM
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Depends on how seriously you take the job. If you have only concern for yourself, it probably isn't stressful at all. Any idiot can sit on the toilet and tweet, then lay in bed watching cable news. Having responsibility for life and death decisions are stressful only if you give a shit about other people. So while it ages people who aren't kleptomaniac narcissists, it certainly hasn't affected Donald at all.

Guys who do take the job seriously age quite a bit.
Yep, me too.

Thanks for saving me the trouble of having to type this out.
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Old 09-05-2019, 12:31 PM
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Depends on how seriously you take the job. If you have only concern for yourself, it probably isn't stressful at all. Any idiot can sit on the toilet and tweet, then lay in bed watching cable news. Having responsibility for life and death decisions are stressful only if you give a shit about other people. So while it ages people who aren't kleptomaniac narcissists, it certainly hasn't affected Donald at all.

Guys who do take the job seriously age quite a bit.

But Trump does travel and speak a lot. He is not just lazing about in the White House in pajamas. I don't even like Trump, I'm just pointing he does in fact travel and do a lot, physically speaking.
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Old 09-05-2019, 12:50 PM
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Look at photos of newly inaugurated Presidents, vs. the same guy leaving office. Yes, eight years on any person over 50 takes a toll, but Presidents seem to age twice that at least.
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Old 09-05-2019, 12:58 PM
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Look at photos of newly inaugurated Presidents, vs. the same guy leaving office. Yes, eight years on any person over 50 takes a toll, but Presidents seem to age twice that at least.
Not so much Reagan. He was a 9 to 5 president and I don't think he put the hours in that the others did. For the most part, I don't think you're far off. Age after presidency = age at inauguration + 2(years served). But I think there's some decompression that takes place, once you're out for a few years and you're safely out of the loop of major decisions, then you age normally again.
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Old 09-05-2019, 04:20 PM
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I think a lot has to do with how well an individual handles stress to begin with. ISTM that a positive attitude and sunny disposition in general are good foundations for weathering the onslaught of opposition, and constant demands. Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama, all shared those traits in their own unique ways.

Whereas Trump is somewhat the opposite, it seems that his thin-skinned knee-jerk defensiveness could actually be a good coping mechanism for eliminating the stress of opposition. His "fight back" posture prevents the stresses from festering.

Regarding the demands, it has always struck me that a job like this is primarily pro-active, you set the agenda. Consequently, you take on as much or as little as you want. Now, of course that doesn't account for big unexpected events, but in general it is not a re-active job. So that is one factor that manages the stress of "demands".

Our current occupant has arranged his demands so that he can golf most weekends. Another more "take action" type might not have that amount of available time.
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Old 09-05-2019, 09:42 PM
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I imagine that part of the stress comes with the fact that you (typically, presuming you give a shit) receive high level intelligence briefings which likely reveal just how fragile peace and security really is. I bet you are involved with discussions concerning dozens of near misses or potential crises that, by virtue of their being highly classified, you can’t even discuss publicly.
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Old 09-06-2019, 08:28 AM
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I imagine that part of the stress comes with the fact that you (typically, presuming you give a shit) receive high level intelligence briefings which likely reveal just how fragile peace and security really is. I bet you are involved with discussions concerning dozens of near misses or potential crises that, by virtue of their being highly classified, you canít even discuss publicly.
I'm sure there's that too, as well as briefings on things that you can't do anything about.

"Mr. President, we estimate there is a 60% chance of a major terrorist initiative sometime in October, in either Syria, or Pakistan. This, we believe, is an operation that was postponed from last July, and is being carried out by a splinter group of Islamic Brotherhood, encouraged by factions in the Pakistan security forces to improve their prestige in competition with Hamas- backed rebels in Yemen..."

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Old 09-06-2019, 09:51 AM
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Not so much Reagan. He was a 9 to 5 president and I don't think he put the hours in that the others did.
Well, I don't disagree that Reagan was a 'hand off things' type of President but do recall that he colored his hair.

A lot of what is perceived as 'the aging factor' is really just normal hair greying that occurs as men age. Had Obama been the sort to darken his hair we'd be talking about how he seemed so youthful despite the stresses of the job.
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Old 09-06-2019, 09:55 AM
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I think Obama showed some age in the face as well as the gray hair. I don't think he had Reagan's vanity, certainly he wouldn't choose such a buzz cut if he did.
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Old 09-06-2019, 10:43 AM
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If you get some things wrong enough, thousands or possibly millions of people will die.

Even if you get things as right as possible, some people are going to die because of decisions you made.

The only people this isn't going to be extremely hard on are people who most definitely shouldn't have the job.
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Old 09-06-2019, 11:26 AM
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You know in the past we had some thread about how much presidents age in office and there were links posted to before after pictures of presidents and of a variety of other people (mainly celebs as they have the most pictures available). The presidents looked no more aged over the same time periods than most of the celebs did. And the celebs often have "work" done ...

Obama currently is looking pretty good compared to most 58 year olds I see.

Here's some before after of presidents. Now go and find some picture of yourselves and your spouses if you have 'em from 8 years ago (or 4 for the one termers) and look in the mirror ...

Me? I look exactly the same! But the rest of you? Pretty sure your appearances have aged about as much without being president.


One little factoid to throw into the stress aging them claim. If it did one would predict that the rapid aging would make them die at early ages too. Yet they in general seem to be a long lived group. Carter's a freakin' 94. Bush Sr lived to that same age. Reagan to 93. Ford 93 ... Sure not all have lived exceptionally long but more than one would expect.
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Old 09-06-2019, 11:40 AM
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Damn exhausting...assuming you care.
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:16 PM
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George H. W. Bush probably had the most emotionally stable attitude about being president. Going into the job he had a pretty good idea of what it would require, and had regimented his life to deal with the physical stresses.

Here's a YouTube clip of GHWB's 1989 inaugural address. He was a youthful 65 years old.

And here's a clip of Bush debating Bill Clinton in 1992. Definitely looks every day of 68 years old now, didn't he?
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:27 PM
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But Trump does travel and speak a lot. He is not just lazing about in the White House in pajamas. I don't even like Trump, I'm just pointing he does in fact travel and do a lot, physically speaking.
True, but I suspect that traveling as a president is probably a lot less stressful than traveling for the average American. You have people to take care of every aspect of your trip, (no need to pack, figure out where you need to be when, wait in the terminal etc), you have a complete bedroom and office suite that travels with you (so you can actually get useful sleep, work and tweeting done on the plane in relative comfort). All you really need to do is just go where people tell you to.
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Old 09-07-2019, 01:58 PM
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True, but I suspect that traveling as a president is probably a lot less stressful than traveling for the average American. You have people to take care of every aspect of your trip, (no need to pack, figure out where you need to be when, wait in the terminal etc), you have a complete bedroom and office suite that travels with you (so you can actually get useful sleep, work and tweeting done on the plane in relative comfort). All you really need to do is just go where people tell you to.
I'm not so sure about that. I suspect that most presidents spend a lot of the flight with staffers, preparing for their upcoming meetings.

Sure, they typically have already been briefed in detail about the issues at hand, but there are frequently last-minute developments to cover. Plus info about the attendees at the meetings, such as "We expect that the head of their Department of Education will be present. Name is Lee Smith. She has four grandchildren under the age of 6. Her youngest daughter is in med school."

Plus, POTUS has traditionally met with reporters while on the plane. Yes, it's informal, but still he has to be very careful of what he says.

Last edited by Anny Middon; 09-07-2019 at 01:59 PM. Reason: correct typo
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