Karl Rove Stirs the Pot with Hillary Clinton Inuendo
by Jules Witcover
Hillary Clinton hasn't even thrown her hat into the 2016 presidential ring yet, but Republican tremors over the very thought have already unleashed red flares about her age and health that question her qualifications for the office.
It's an old partisan tactic, this time invoked by Karl Rove, the man who brought you George W. Bush, who with neither his age nor his health impeding his election arguably went on to be the worst American president to date with his Iraq invasion in 2003.
Rove's reputation as an all-knowing political analyst was severely tarnished by his 2012 election-night reassurance to his
The "episode," described by her doctors as a concussion that produced a blood clot for which she was hospitalized for three days, played nicely into another episode -- the Benghazi consulate attack, for which the Republicans have had a field day accusing Hillary of negligence and dissembling.
It so happened that her injury and hospitalization led to postponement of a scheduled appearance before a congressional committee. When she subsequently testified, she wore special glasses said to correct double vision suffered in the fall.
As reported by the
Beyond the fact that she had been hospitalized only three days, not 30, Rove's linkage was a clever political gambit raising not only Hillary Clinton's health but also keeping alive the Benghazi narrative, currently the major Republican attack line along with the party's unending assault on Obamacare, with Hillary's age thrown in for good measure.
The "health episode" also serves to feed into the presidential qualification issue by focusing on the presumptive Democratic frontrunner's age of 66. If elected in 2016, she would be only months short of 69, the age at which Ronald Reagan won the
But the good-humored Gipper, after a seemingly confused first debate performance in 1984 against Democratic nominee Walter Mondale, recovered in the next debate by dead-panning to his younger challenger: "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." Mondale acknowledged afterward that as soon as he heard Reagan's remark, he knew he had lost his chance to be elected president.
Health more than age can weigh heavily on voters' minds in casting their presidential ballots, but Reagan easily cleared the bar in 1984, having survived an attempted assassination and hospitalization in the first weeks of his presidency, and later colon cancer surgery.
As for Rove's stirring the pot, it fell to the always sensitive and caring former House speaker Newt Gingrich to note he was "deeply offended" by the references to Hillary Clinton's health, adding on
If that wasn't the pot calling the kettle black, it was a pretty good imitation, from a failed politician who has himself become a prominent member of that consulting class. In any event, it is unclear how any of this will deter Hillary Clinton, a battle-scarred veteran of the big time, from running two years from now.
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"Karl Rove Stirs the Pot with Hillary Clinton Inuendo"