I remember as a kid how people thought Jimmy Carter aged badly during his administration. I don’t know that he aged so bad, as much as his trademark smile was wiped off his face during the Iran Hostage Crisis.
Recent thoughts of that made me want to go back and see how other recent presidents looked at the beginning and end of their terms. It does appear that being president ages some men more than others.
Below is a comparison of some modern presidents, early in their terms, and as they were leaving office.
Nixon coasted to an historic landslide in 1972, only to resign in disgrace two years later. He was consumed by the scandal and it took a toll on him.
Reagan liked to delegate and shun details. Even though he had the Iran Contra scandal, he left the office positive and largely unaffected by the pressures of the office.
The elder George Bush (by the way, it’s NOT George Bush Sr and George Bush Jr., as the elder Bush has two middle names) was a career Washington politician. The pressures of office were old hat to him. He left office after 4 years in relatively good physical shape.
Bill Clinton, though always presenting himself as a positive leader, was famous for his micromanagement and quick temper. He also became only the second president to be impeached (history 101 – being “impeached” doesn’t mean being removed from office… it just means impeachment proceedings were brought against him). He also had his girlfriend Monica Lewinsky to deal with and deny. He left office a bit weathered.
George W. Bush had 9/11 and two wars to wage, not to mention the wars he had to wage at home against an army of detractors. He looks 20 years older in his last year in office than he did in his first.
If you’re looking for the ages of presidents when they left office, here is a good chart.