May 15, 2014

Thursday Hillary Bash - Raising her health issues a tactical blunder?

The purpose of the Thursday Hillary Bash is of course to bash Hillary Clinton (on Thursdays) since she just isn't qualified to be a good commander in chief.  So I do not take lightly the notion of questioning someone who questions her fitness to be president.  But in this case, I do have to wonder - was this the right route to take?

Not brain damaged, but definitely policy-challenged.
Thanks to Karl Rove, it looks like the latest focus on Hillary has surrounded her health.  In 2016 she'll be 69 years old.  I personally don't think that's too old to serve two terms as president, but when Ronald Reagan ran in 1980 at the same age as Hillary Clinton would run in 2016, many people on the left used the issue his age against him (or tried to do so).  Borrowing from Saul Alinsky, why not use Hillary's age against her? But will it be effective?

In either a stroke of genius, or a massive brush of stupidity, Karl Rove threw the issue of Hillary's health out there. But he didn't limit it to her age, he brought up brain damage, as reported by the Washington Post:
If Clinton decides to run in 2016, her age and health are certain to be talked about, given that she would be vying to become the second-oldest person in history to be elected. She would be 69, only a little younger than Ronald Reagan when he won his first term in 1980.

What had been only a secondary issue, compared with the prospect of electing the first female president, has suddenly burst to the fore. On Tuesday, the New York Post ran a provocative headline: “Karl Rove: Hillary may have brain damage.”
While Rove, backed away from the comment, the Washington Post was quite predictably, quick to come to Hillary's defense. That defense focused on indicting Rove:
...Of course, those words coming from the Republican Party’s most famous bare-knuckles operative were read as something more than an expression of concern for her health.

“All he wants to do is inject the issue into the echo chamber, and he’s succeeding. It’s flagrant and thinly veiled,” said Clinton’s press secretary, Nick Merrill. “They are scared of what she has achieved and what she has to offer. What he’s doing is its own form of sickness. But she is 100 percent, period. Time for them to move on to their next desperate attack.”

Rove also came under harsh criticism from some in his party, including former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
The message - Rove is way out there on this issue, he's a ruthless partisan hack, his assertion is ridiculous, let's everyone move on. 

 But was it a pointless volley on Rove's part? He had to know the media would come after him for it because so many of them want Hillary to win in 2016. So he must have included their reaction in his calculus. If he's not trying to grab headlines for himself in order to sell a new book (I'm not aware of any), then what is he doing? Was Rove hoping for some of the accusation to stick in the minds of the public, regardless of the media backlash? Was it just a piece of conservative red meat to re-ingratiate himself with the Tea Party right prior to the mid-terms of 2014 in hopes of uniting the right for 2014 or 2016 elections? Is it a political feint to distract the left?

Could it be, that the Hillary health issue will end up being a perfect dovetail with a fatally flawed Obamacare come 2016? That would be a terrific second shoe to drop on this narrative. Hillary needs medical support but she won't sign up for Obamacare, she prefers private insurance. That, or some such argument would be sweet.

Or is Rove just not as clever as some would have us believe? I like the pugnaciousness of Karl Rove but I tend to fall into the latter camp - he's not being doubly clever here. At least it does not seem so at this point, in this case. All Clinton has to do in order to diffuse the age and health question is pull a Ronald Reagan in the first general election presidential debate (or in the primaries if her coronation is threatened).

The Washington Post not so secretly clues Hillary in to the notion:
During a 1984 debate with Democratic nominee Walter F. Mondale, Reagan quipped: “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.”
If Hillary uses that line during the debate, game over. The Washington Post handed her the idea. Then they go on to give her credit for taking the argument one step further:
Clinton herself has attempted to turn the question of age to her benefit lately, by adding a dash of gender politics to it.

“As men and women age, men are tired of the race. I mean they’ve been running it since their late teens; they’re exhausted,” Clinton said during a recent appearance at historically female Simmons College in Massachusetts. “All they want to do is take a deep breath. They want to retire; they want to play golf; they want to just enjoy life. And women are raring to go because they feel like they’ve fulfilled their responsibilities; their kids are now on their own; it’s now time for them to show what they can do.”
My goodness, Hillary is brilliant, isn't she? So sayeth the media.  Rove's gambit is unlikely to pay off unless there is more to it than meets the eye so far.

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