If you needed any further proof that the modern Republican Party is a sarlacc pit where good campaign strategy goes to be slowly digested in the bowels of old white dudes for thousands of years, then this latest bit of age-snarking should probably do the trick: GOP strategists are trying very hard to remind potential voters in the 2016 presidential election that Hillary Clinton (who hasn’t even decided whether to run yet) will be old when she hypothetically assumes office. Like, really old.
Older than Ronald Reagan when he assumed office? No, actually — a year younger than him. Older than John McCain (who was, to be fair, dogged with worries that he was too old to be president) when he ran in 2008? No, no — three years younger, as a matter of fact. Clinton will be 69 by the next presidential election, and though the GOP has put forward no shortage of Old White Candidates in past presidential elections (including Bob Dole the oldest ever at 73), this hasn’t stopped the likes of Republibros like Mitt Romney strategist/chief jester Stuart Stevens and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from making jibes about Clinton’s age. Honestly, does anyone think this strategy won’t backfire horribly?
According to the New York Times, Stevens told reporters at a breakfast last month that voting for Hillary Clinton would be like going back in time, you know, except for all that business about the United States never, ever having elected a female president. “She’s been around since the ’70s,” he said, presumably to many blinks, throat-clearings, and blank stares. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell from Kan-tuck-ee (no spring chicken himself), quipped that the 2016 Democratic field so far looks like “a rerun of The Golden Girls.” You know who tends to make Golden Girls references, Mitch McConnell? Old people, or young people who spent time with old people watching The Golden Girls before Gilligan’s Island came on. Meanwhile, Scott Walker insisted recently, “If you want to keep thinking about tomorrow, maybe it’s time to put somebody new in.”
Republicans should be the VERY LAST people talking about choosing a president for the world of tomorrow, because Republicans, by their very political philosophy, are the party of yesteryear. That’s sort of the whole point about being conservative.
However, for a political party that routinely chortles the praise of Ronald Reagan — who took the oath of office when he was 70-years-old and whose later presidential years were surrounded by rumors of dementia — criticizing a female candidate for her age ironically proves that the GOP really isn’t the political party thinking about tomorrow: it’s still thinking about the same sexist crap it was thinking about the last time Hillary Clinton ran for president.
Image via Getty, Scott Olson