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Monday, July 1, 2013

GOP attempts to paint Hillary as old; comes off as out-of-touch


Panic is beginning to set-in among Republicans. For the first time in decades, a non-incumbent Democrat is practically uniting the Party behind their presidential candidacy without lifting a finger.

Hillary Clinton, despite her declaration that it's too early to consider running in 2016, will likely have sewn up the nomination before exploratory committees are even formed in two years.

She leads every major primary poll released in the last six months by 40 points or more over sitting-Vice President Joe Biden. She already has public support from Gen. Wesley Clark and Sen. Claire McCaskill (who famously was an early supporter of Pres. Obama in 2008), and she's even leading head-to-head polls against Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in their own home state of Florida.

Worst of all for the GOP, their efforts to puff up a scandal over Benghazi failed. Their gamble was to kill her candidacy early by making a national security "breach" stick to Clinton, but they overplayed their hand, and now, Americans are pretty sick of hearing about it.

Facing arguably the most prepared (and thoroughly vetted) presidential candidate in history, they've run out of options, so it's time to pull out the wild cards. Maybe something--anything--will stick.

And so, the GOP's latest strategy is to say the former Secretary of State is "too old", hoping the electorate--particularly youth--will crave the youth of, say, 42 year-old Sen. Rubio or Gov. Bobby Jindal.

This is more than a little humorous coming from a party that's primarily funded by old, white men, but let's provide some context to emphasize the irony and hypocrisy of this tactic.

First, the GOP's own 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, is actually 7 months older than Hillary Clinton. Four years before that, their nominee was 72 year-old John McCain.

Second, the patron saint of conservatives and hero to every Republican national leader, President Ronald Reagan, was 69 when he began his presidency, the same age Clinton will be when she's elected.

Third, since the 1972 presidential election, every Republican nominee has been older than their Democratic counterpart.

And fourth, Democratic candidates have long had a lock on the youth vote. Even old, white, and "dorky" men like Al Gore and John Kerry (sorry, guys) enjoyed enormous support among 18-24 year-olds in their respective elections just for being the Democratic candidates.

Bizarrely, noted icon of youth and vigor, 71 year-old Sen. Mitch McConnell, took a swipe at Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden by claiming their being elected to the presidency would be "a rerun of The Golden Girls".

Um, Senator... I'm not sure if you got the memo, but my generation loves The Golden Girls. Gay or straight, all races, male or female, rich or poor... that TV show has somehow transcended cultural barriers among Millennials, probably because we all grew up watching it on syndication late at night when there was nothing else to do.

In fact, I can say with 500% certainty that Betty White is an Honorary Millennial and not just in a gosh-I-wish-Betty-White-were-my-grandmother kinda way but in a I-would-do-shots-and-trade-dirty-jokes-with-Betty-White kinda way.

Seriously. That sounds like hyperbole, but it's not. Betty White is one of us, and The Golden Girls--oddly, I'll admit--is one of our cultural touchstones. But maybe not so oddly. For most Millennials, this was the first time we saw a group of old, white folks tackle hard issues--drug addiction, racism, sexism, gay rights--and articulate a position on them that was not only right but also not condescending and consistently hilarious.

And that condescending factor is what you should consider here because it's exactly how we feel--talked down to--when a 71 year-old anti-gay, anti-woman, white man attempts to send the message to us that Hillary Clinton is "out of touch" by comparing her to one of the few things our entire generation can agree is pretty badass without a hint of irony.

What you're doing is pretty obvious here: you're not trying to paint her as "old" so much as you're trying to point out she's an "old woman", which must mean she's both decrepit and incapable.

So, not only are you being condescending but also sexist, which is laughable when you consider that most Millennials want to see a woman in the White House, even if they don't necessarily agree with Secretary Clinton on the issues.

Republicans, I get that you're spiraling, but it's not helping your cause to attack Hillary Clinton on anything other than her political philosophy. You're already the anti-gay party, the anti-immigration party, the anti-race party, and the anti-choice party.

You don't want to add to that by continuing to stumble into sexist territory as well. It's not a good look.

Twitter: @cmclymer

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