Isn’t it a tad early for Hillary Clinton’s critics to be channeling their inner loon? And do they really want to be led by the likes of Karl Rove?
George W. Bush’s muse, who hasn’t won much of anything since 2004, is back in the news indulging his favorite pastime: innuendo. While most of Rove’s fellow Republicans remain obsessed with Benghazi, he has preferred to birth a new scandal. Welcome to Braingate.
Rove dished his dirt last Thursday at a California conference; his remarks were reported Monday in the Murdoch empire’s top paper, the New York Post. Apparently his creds as a political swami have plummeted so badly that he has switched to medicine. Dr. Rove doesn’t believe that Hillary suffered a blood clot when she fell in December 2012 while weakened by a stomach virus. Oh no, he suspects that her diagnosis was much much worse – and that the truth has been covered up. But let him tell it:
“Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.”
Conservatives can’t even keep their spinuenndo straight. Back in December ’12, they claimed (without a shred of evidence) that Hillary was totally faking illness, in order to avoid testifying about Benghazi. Yet now Rove is claiming (without a shred of evidence) that Hillary totally and secretly suffered a major illness.
By the way, Rove’s first sentence was a lie. Hillary wasn’t hospitalized for 30 days; the factual number of days was 3. But Rove isn’t slowed by facts. His goal was to conjure the possibilty of a conspiracy (again without a shred of evidence). As long as Hillary’s doctors stand by their diagnosis – that she was treated for a blood clot behind her right ear – the loons on the right can re-ignite their Hillary hatred by convincing themselves that she’s hiding something. (Hence Rove’s remark, “We need to know what’s up with that.”)
Rove buttressed his Braingate message yesterday, this time by appearing on the Murdoch empire’s infauxtainment network, Fox News. He was supposedly displeased with the headline that had run in the New York Post (“Karl Rove: Hillary May Have Brain Damage”), and decided to tweak his wordplay. When the Fox News host asked, “How did this comment come up suggesting that Hillary Clinton may suffer from brain damage?,” Rove shot back: “No, no, no, no. Wait a minute. No, no. I didn’t say she had brain damage.”
Naw, he’d merely suggested (without proof) that Hillary had suffered a “traumatic brain injury.” Which, to many laymen, sounds a lot like “brain damage.” Meanwhile, he used his Fox News gig to paint Braingate as a Benghazi-style conspiracy: “We don’t know what the doctors said about what does she have to be concerned about. Don’t know about – I mean she’s hidden a lot of this.” (Actually, we do know what her doctors said.)
Rove has long trafficked in this kind of rhetorical savagery – Nicolle Wallace, who worked with Rove in the Bush administration, called his Hillary remarks “off the wall”- but we can easily see why he’s doing it now. As the old saying goes, there’s some method to his madness.
He’s trying, in his own inimitable way, to inject the health issue into the nascent presidential race. (In one of his tamer Fox News remarks yesterday, he correctly said that Hillary had suffered “a serious health episode.”) And the health issue is absolutely fair game. Hillary is 66, and she shouldn’t be treated any differently than earlier candidates of a certain age, including Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, and John McCain.
But this crucial issue is debased when provocateurs like Rove are playing to the nuts. It’s not possible to have a serious discussion of Hillary’s fitness if voters are being goaded to inflate illness into scandal. We’d all benefit if Rove simply confined himself to making bad predictions (on the eve of the GOP’s ’06 loss of the House and Senate, his “math” decreed that the GOP would keep both), and freaking out on election night TV (insisting on Fox News that Obama had not won Ohio).
Meanwhile, a Hillary spokesperson said Monday that she is healthy – uh oh, what are the doctors hiding?! – and that, with respect to Rove, “there are no words for this level of lying.”
I can think of a few choice words, but this is a family blog.
Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1