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Ken Adelman
Political advisor

Ken Adelman

A Reagan-era Ambassador and Arms Control Director, Ken Adelman is co-founder and vice-president of Movers and Shakespeares, which offers executive training and leadership development.

Salad days for our Senators

Q: When he died this week, Robert Byrd, who was a frail 92, had represented West Virginia in the Senate for more than 50 years. Is it generally a good idea for top leaders in any sector to serve that long, or that late in life? Given the common instinct to hang on, should limits be imposed?

No, no restrictions on elected officials. That's what an electorate is for -- to choose their representative. If they choose an old geezer, let 'em.

So it was fine by me that Robert Byrd served long past his prime (such that it be -- or been). Besides, I'm biased since Byrd quoted Shakespeare on the Senate floor frequently, even frequently in context and accurately.

Anyway, you can't apply an expiration date for Senators without decimating the place. As a character struck by the AARP crowd in the ballroom says in Romeo and Juliet, "You and you and you are past your dancing days!"

For other positions, I'm torn. It's not fair to a competent performer to be booted just because of turning 65, 70, or whatever. Yet it's not fair to the organization to have geriatric types clogging up the ladder.

The only way out is to institute a policy of forced retirement at 65 or 70, with exceptions signed off by the CEO. After all, a few folks perform superbly long after that, and that talent shouldn't be lost. Plus, there's some wisdom gained in years. Even Cleopatra recalls her "salad days, when I was green in judgment."

By Ken Adelman

 |  June 29, 2010; 5:03 PM ET
Category:  Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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So, exactly why would "decimating" the Senate be a bad thing ?

Posted by: BrianX9 | July 1, 2010 7:13 AM
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