Former Bush adviser and Fox News analyst Karl Rove caused a stir last night by raising questions about Hillary Clinton's health at a Southern California symposium:
Karl Rove stunned a conference when he suggested Hillary Clinton may have brain damage. Onstage with Robert Gibbs and CBS correspondent and “Spies Against Armageddon” co-author Dan Raviv, Rove said Republicans should keep the Benghazi issue alive. He said if Clinton runs for president, voters must be told what happened when she suffered a fall in December 2012. The official diagnosis was a blood clot. Rove told the conference near LA Thursday, “Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.”
The New York Post clarified that Clinton spent just three days in the hospital following a blood clot scare -- though she was out of the public eye for weeks. Team Hillary fired back with a nuclear strike on Rove:
A spokesperson for Clinton added, “Karl Rove has deceived the country for years, but there are no words for this level of lying.” As for her health, “She is 100 percent. Period.”
In an interview this morning, Rove said he never suggested Clinton had suffered brain damage, but insisted that questions about her health are fair game -- as they would be (and have been) for any male candidate:
As per usual, Allahpundit offers a strong analysis of this mini-tempest, which is no doubt an early salvo in what promises to be a bruising 2016 campaign. Rove is most likely doing his part to publicly raise issues that the Clintons will surely hope to make taboos if Hillary chooses to run, such as her age (she'll be approaching 70) and her health status. Better to get the indignant huffing out of the way early so that the issue can be discussed and explored. Or, AP speculates, Rove knows something. Whispers have swirled for years that Hillary's physical well being could be an impediment to a potential bid, though they've never been remotely substantiated. She appears to be perfectly healthy in her public appearances, and that Clinton spokesperson quoted above was unequivocal about Hillary's status. Nevertheless, the unspoken message Rove delivers is, "this isn't going to be fun or easy, Hillary -- are you sure you go through it again?" If Hillary Clinton wants to be president, she will -- and should -- undergo a battery of medical tests. The American people have a right to know if prospective presidents are physically fit for the job. But as we've learned, questions that would be routine and prosaic for white male candidates aren't treated as routine for identity candidates. Far be it from be to question Rove's prowess as a political strategist, but I harbor doubts that this approach will play out the way the way he may intend. Allahpundit expands:
The problem with raising the possibility of a brain injury is that it’s easily “disproved”; every time she gives a routine interview, voters will take it as evidence that she’s fine and there’s nothing to worry about. The only issue that might give people pause is if she’s had a stroke, but even then, there are all sorts of ways Democrats can spin it. It’s “agist” to assume a stroke survivor can’t function at the highest levels; she’s gotten top-flight medical care and will continue to do so; any senior citizen who runs for president is also at risk of strokes, heart attacks, and so on, among them John McCain and Joe Biden. Remember, victimization will be a core part of Hillary’s campaign — victimization by Bill in the Lewinsky affair, victimization by Obama in thwarting her historic candidacy the first time, victimization by the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that’s accusing her of brain injury now. The cure for victimization is empowerment, and there’s an obvious way for voters to empower Hillary.
Yep. Being called an old, infirm woman -- or claiming to have been called an old, infirm woman -- could play right into Hillary's hands. I'll leave you with this tweet from Breitbart's John Nolte, which I'm also cribbing from AP's post:
The media is already reaching for the smelling salts over the very notion that someone like Karl Rove would be so horrible as to speculate about their Next Preferred Candidate like this. As Nolte reminds us, these are the same journalists who ignored, chuckled at, or filed perfunctory stories about the current Senate Majority Leader's relentless smears of private citizens, appalling attacks on Obamacare victims, and nasty, baseless speculation about Mitt Romney.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography