Karl Rove: I never said Hillary had brain damage, but seriously, what's up with her?

A follow-up to MKH’s item last night via the Corner. I realize there’s a strategy at work in introducing this subject, I’m just not sure what it is. Could be it’s as simple as Rove moving early to make sure Hillary’s health and age are fair game in 2016. That would go without saying for any male candidate, but there’s already some harrumphing in the media this morning over speculating about the First Woman President. Which only proves Rove’s implicit point: To make this issue safe for public debate, Republicans will have to work at it. He’s starting early.

Another theory: Maybe Rove knows, or thinks he knows, something about her health that we don’t. Every now and then, back in 2007-08, a vague allusion to problems on the horizon for John Edwards would bubble up online; a few people in the political class knew what was going on with him and occasionally a hint would trickle out. It’ll be harder to crack the conspiracy of silence within Hillaryworld about her health but maybe not impossible for someone with Rove’s connections. Could be he got a clue only recently about what happened, or it could be that he’s known for awhile and is keeping a lid on things until we get closer to the election, when the revelation will cause her more damage. In that case, today’s Fox interview is a shot across the bow of the Clintons, to remind Hillary while she’s making up her mind about running that the road ahead is bumpy. The goal in talking this up now is to discourage her before she jumps in.

The reason I don’t see the great strategic merit of it, though, is this: Realistically, what sort of malady could Hillary have, or have had, that would cost her lots of votes if the public knew about it? 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. Unless she’s hiding a health problem that’s truly severe (in which case, why would she be thinking of running?), medical issues will be folded into the victimization narrative.

Update: A-yup.

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David Strom 1:01 PM on December 04, 2022