Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s call for mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 seemed like a direct challenge to President Joe Biden, who is 80. But she could have been referring to the other announced candidate in the race: former President Donald Trump, who is 76. Or other high ranking leaders over the age of 75 – Senators Mitch McConnell and Bernie Sanders, both 81. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is 89, but the oldest sitting member of Congress, by a few months, is Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, also 89. She has announced that she will not run for re-election next year, however her term does not end until January 2025.
On the heels of Haley’s announcement, Democratic Senator John Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to seek treatment for clinical depression, a condition often associated with recovery from a stroke, which he experienced last May.
While Fetterman’s case differs from age-related cognitive decline, both issues raise questions about how much the public has the right to know about a public figure’s mental health, and whether acknowledging these very common, very human conditions alleviates stigma or just reinforces it.
Host Michel Martin talks to former Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy about how his decision to speak publicly about his own issues with mental health.
We also hear from Matthew Rozsa, who writes about health and science for Salon.