A fascinating discussion on MSNBC’s Up with Steve Kornacki today about the role age discrimination plays in American politics:
Kornacki accurately notes the repugnant nature of Karl Rove’s acidic attack on Hillary Clinton’s age (although it’s hard to imagine what Rove has done that is not of a repugnant nature). He also notes the political effectiveness with which President Reagan deflected concerns about his age thirty years ago:
Age-based attacks on Democrats are almost always signs of desperation (a good example is Boston-based right-wing pundit Howie Carr’s assault on then-Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren as “Granny Warren” in 2012; “Granny Warren,” of course, spanked Senator Scott Brown’s naked rear end in that fall’s election), whereas age-based attacks on Republicans are almost always signs of humor (such as Kornacki’s examples, the mockery of 1996 GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole and 2008 GOP presidential candidate John McCain).
Arguably the most pathetic element of Rove’s remarks is that virtually no one perceives Clinton to be “old and stale.” Rove is essentially admitting that the right does not have a policy case to make against her (in fact, it’s progressives who have the best policy case against her); the only weapon in the right’s arsenal is the “old hag” tag. If Clinton runs for president on a campaign that privileges progressive concerns and wins, presumably we will once again see Rove freak out on election night.