Latter-day Republican Party patron saint Ronald Reagan was 69 years old when he was elected President in 1980, and 73 when he successfully sought a second term in 1984. President George H. W. Bush was 68 when trounced at the polls by young, upstart William J. Clinton in 1992.
Former Kansas Senator and Majority Leader Bob Dole had logged 73 years on the planet by the 1996 Presidential campaign, which saw him fail to unseat an incumbent Clinton. Today, at nearly 90 years of age, Dole remains a relevant voice of reason, challenging his party mates to reengage common sense reality. In May of this year, Dole famously told Fox News that the the GOP should be “closed for repairs” while it assembles a party platform standing for more than fractious negativity.
In 2008, Arizona Senator and Republican Presidential nominee John McCain, then 72 years of age, was rumored to have considered a unique offer to the American public. For the price of one victorious election, the elder statesman pondered resolving concerns about his age with a commitment to just one term in the Oval Office.
As the right continues to awkwardly flounder in its attempts to connect with mainstream voters, Americans are being treated to the latest in a seemingly endless string of political ironies. The party of old white men, keenly anticipating another electoral drubbing in 2016, have resorted to attacking presumed Democratic front runner Hillary Rodham Clinton on the basis of her maturity.
In a recent New York Times article entitled, Republicans Paint Clinton as Old News for 2016 Presidential Election, writer Jonathan Martin observed, “At a conservative conference earlier in the year, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, ridiculed the 2016 Democratic field as ‘a rerun of The Golden Girls,’ referring to Mrs. Clinton and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is 70.” It is worth noting that the hapless Senate Minority Leader is himself 71 years of age.
To quote protagonist Meredith Grey of the long-running ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy: seriously? Is this the best that the GOP can do before Hillary officially tosses her hat in the proverbial ring?
Matt K. Lewis of The Week wrote a companion piece to the Times article, aptly titled Why Republicans should shut up about Hillary Clinton’s age. Among a number of cogent perceptions, Lewis declares, “The cult of youth, of course, is silly. Age can bring wisdom, and youth often equals ignorance.” Let’s zero in on the last part of the second sentence. I will take the poise, experience and cool intellect of a seasoned Clinton over the ignorant hubris of a Paul Ryan, Rand Paul or Marco Rubio anyday.
Ryan’s ongoing quest to win the serious policy wonk award has been undone repeatedly by his blanket disregard for anyone but millionaires – not to mention those 2012 campaign workout photos (egads). Rand Paul’s approach to female reproductive rights reads like this: “I think there should be some self-examination from the administration on the idea that you favor a woman’s right to an abortion, but you don’t favor a woman or a man’s right to choose what kind of light bulb, what kind of dishwasher, what kind of washing machine.” And Marco Rubio has plenty to sort out before he could ever be considered a palatable candidate, such as how the grandson of an undocumented Cuban immigrant can align himself with today’s Republican Party in the first place.
According to polls conducted in early June, Hillary Clinton’s favorability rating with American voters stands at 58 percent. This is down from a December 2012 high of 70 percent, before the GOP enjoyed their weak Benghazi scandal feast. But with Clinton currently out of political office, and the famously short term imprint of the national news cycle, experts expect those numbers to climb back steadily.
If I were a Republican strategist, I’d be worried too. A field of anemic males versus one-half of one of the most formidable couples in political history is a daunting prospect. But instead of resorting to disingenuous, hypocritical, agist barbs, why don’t you boys go out and find yourselves a platform? Expecting to gain traction with “Hillary is old! Na na na boo boo!” fully explains your present state of voter alienation.