Katy Burns: Rove’s attacks on Clinton just might backfire
Karl Rove may think Hillary Clinton is too old and feeble to be president, but America's older voters may have something to say about that.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, shown here on May 14, would be 69 by Election Day in 2018.
Blackouts! Blinding headaches! Loss of memory!
Why she will never be in the White House!
The headlines in the Globe – the bad supermarket tabloid Globe, that is, not the good Boston Globe, which has set a standard for quality journalism in New England for generations – screamed to shoppers waiting their turns in the checkout lines.
Hillary is a loser! For good measure, the Globe’s editors added a picture of Hillary Clinton looking as if she’d been on a five-day bender.
GOP uber-operative Karl Rove has achieved what he set out to do with his disgusting attack on Clinton several weeks ago. That was when he threw out the comment that the former first lady, senator and secretary of state (and likely Democratic presidential candidate) was maybe, just maybe, concealing serious health problems, including possible “traumatic brain damage” stemming from a concussion she suffered in December 2012.
A few Rove acolytes claimed halfheartedly that it had been a casual, off-the-cuff remark. That was nonsense, as any observer of Rove – affectionately nicknamed “Turd Blossom” by his most successful protégé, George W. Bush – knows. Rove never says anything that isn’t calculated right down to which syllables he stresses.
Immediately, Rove’s words provoked a firestorm. Rove was widely condemned, even by people in his own party. Turd Blossom didn’t care, of course. He’d had the effect he was looking for. He’d used the phrases “Hillary Clinton” and “brain damage” in the same sentence.
And as demonstrated by the Globe’s over-the-top “reporting,” the charge has caught fire. Google those phrases and you’ll get more than 10 million hits. And that’s not counting a particularly nasty variation running through the bowels of cyberspace – an equally unfounded claim that Hillary has brain cancer.
Rove returned to the subject just last week. Hillary “will be 69 at the time of the 2016 election.” She “will have to cough up” her medical records. Hillary looks “like yesterday.” In American politics, “you want to be new . . . and fresh” not “something that’s old and stale.” You go, Karl. That “cough up” was a particularly disgusting touch.
Keep it up, and you might just get me on the Hillary bandwagon. And maybe a bunch of other “old and stale” voters will get there as well.
Over the years, I’ve not been a great fan of the Clintons, their political practices and their political machine. In particular, six years ago I was among those people who were a bit uneasy with the thought of returning Bill Clinton to the White House, even as just first husband. (As now I’m uncomfortable with the idea of another Bush, Jeb, in the Oval Office. We are not, or at least should not be, a nation of dynasties and royal families.) And I’ve had misgivings this year about acceding to the alleged inevitability of Hillary, even if she is starting to seem pretty inevitable.
I’ve also written recently about the oddity (and hilarity) of the Democratic Party – the party of young people – hosting a possible all-geriatric field of candidates: Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and John Kerry. I’ve noted that we voters of a certain age might be more skeptical than younger folks of such candidates because of our intimate familiarity with the aches, pains and possible limitations that inevitably come with age and, at the very least, wonder just why Clinton wants to take on such a hard job.
But still . . . I find myself deeply offended by Rove’s snide, baseless insinuations about Hillary Clinton and by extension other people, especially women, of a certain age.
I suspect that I’m not the only vintage voter who’s growing downright peeved about Rove’s determination to label one of our contemporaries as a doddering wreck who should be kicked to the curb.
In truth, there’s no reason why a woman (or man) of Clinton’s age wouldn’t have many years of good health and valuable service in her future. We in New Hampshire, especially, should know that. The Granite State is overflowing with vigorous octogenarians – and their elders.
Over the years, Hillary Clinton has served our country with skill, dignity and grace, first as a particularly beleaguered first lady facing unusual challenges, to say the least. After that, she was considered an effective senator with a gift for working across the aisle and, most recently, a vigorous, hard-working and indefatigable secretary of state who was a particular inspiration to girls and women around the globe.
In all, she’s been a pretty admirable citizen of these United States for most of her adult life.
And in the years since Karl Rove first showed up on the national scene, just what has he contributed to society, to the commonweal of America?
Well, he started out as the protégé of Lee Atwater, who practically invented political skulduggery and is widely credited with devising the GOP’s wildly successful Southern Strategy, ensuring the old South became a Republican stronghold.
Rove, adopting Atwater’s hardball tactics, became a tireless – some say ruthless – advocate for an array of Republican politicians, including not just George W. Bush but his father, George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon, John Ashcroft, John Cornyn, Phil Gramm and Rick Perry. Since serving in the W. Bush White House, Rove has traveled the lecture circuit and been a fixture on Fox News.
He has also been intimately involved in the development and operation of American Crossroads, a Super PAC that raises millions in anonymous funds for the Republican Party. American Crossroads spent roughly $105 million in the 2012 general election; its offspring, Crossroads GPS, spend another $70 million. Most of its candidates lost.
Hillary Clinton has spent most of her life working for a better, fairer society. Karl Rove – Turd Blossom – has spent much of his own life trying to bring down people like Hillary Clinton.
And now he’s doing it again.
(“Monitor” columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)