On the front page of Sunday's The New York Times, Jonathan Martin has a remarkable story about the G.O.P.'s strategy against a likely Hillary Clinton candidacy. Of course it's still 2013, and a lot could change in the next three years, but if the strategy remains what Martin lays out, the party should just concede the election now.
In short, the goal is to paint Clinton as "old news"—or, rather, old:
Stuart Stevens, the top strategist for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, declared to an audience of reporters at a breakfast last month that electing Hillary Rodham Clintonwould be like going back in time. “She’s been around since the ’70s,” he said.
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.
The 2016 election may be far off, but one theme is becoming clear: Republican strategists and presidential hopefuls, in ways subtle and overt, are eager to focus a spotlight on Mrs. Clinton’s age.
Did any Republican quoted for this article happen to catch the 2008 Democractic primary? I have another idea: Why not spend the election focusing on how Clinton dresses, make an effort to refer to her as shrill, question her likeability, and even raise the issue of whether women are too emotional for the presidency. That seems like a better strategy. For now:
Mrs. Clinton’s age and appearance, of course, provide an irresistible topic for the conservative media. Matt Drudge, who takes particular delight in tracking Mrs. Clinton’s photographic ups and downs, posted a picture on his website this month showing her virtually wrinkle-free under the headline “Fresh-Faced Hillary Glows at Lincoln Center.”
The radio host Rush Limbaugh, echoing his commentary from her first presidential run, asked his audience in April whether the American people “want to vote for somebody, a woman, and actually watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?”
If this is anything to go by, Clinton should begin planning for her second term right about now.
P.S. There is also this great quote: “They would go to that place at their own risk,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic minority leader and first female speaker, noting that “Age is like art — it’s a matter of interpretation.”
Isaac Chotiner is a senior editor at The New Republic. Follow him on Twitter @IChotiner.