Karl Rove: Let's face it, Hillary's "old and stale"

Baffling. We all understand what he’s trying to do, nourishing the seed of doubt in voters’ minds that she’s too old and too sick for the demands of the presidency. But look at some of his rhetoric.

“Hillary may have the impression in people’s minds that she’s both the third term of Barack Obama … and a third term for Bill Clinton, which is now 20 years in the rearview mirror,” Rove said on Fox News…

“People don’t like people who have it sort of already made, they want to see a scrapper, they want to see a fighter,” Rove said. “And if it looks like you are the candidate, then people tend to pick at your faults and tend to look at alternatives.”…

“In American politics, there’s a sense you want to be new, you don’t want to be too familiar, you want to be something fresh, you don’t want to be something old and stale,” he said.

Everyone see the problem?


Why would a guy who’s on Team Jeb want to turn voters against a candidate with a “stale,” “familiar” name, who has it “sort of already made” because of his family connections, and who’ll widely be attacked as running for a third Dubya term? Bush’s Republican opponents will have a field day with that soundbite in the primaries. That’s what makes this so weird — the potential cost to Jeb, in handing an ad-ready soundbite like this to Rand Paul or Chris Christie or whoever, is greater than the marginal benefit of introducing the “Hillary’s too old” argument bright and early, as Rove’s been doing. That argument will be made by a hundred different commentators in a hundred different formats before 2016, but to have Dubya’s chief advisor on tape blathering about dynastic retreads is unique and noteworthy, and Rove surely knows it. It’s not a perfect parallel, but imagine the fun we’d have rubbing the Clintons’ face in it if, say, David Axelrod had made this same argument vis-a-vis Jeb. All of that being the case, why would he do it?

Could it be that Rove’s … not on Team Jeb? Hard to believe, and if it’s true, why he is handing the Times syrupy sweet quotes about Bush like how he’s allegedly the “deepest thinker” in the Republican Party? Also, if he’s not on Bush’s side, whose side is he on? He’s surely not going to gamble on Christie and Rubio while the rest of the GOP establishment is lining up behind Jeb. What’s going on here?

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