Karl Rove’s alleged comments about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health at an “off-the-record” conference near Los Angeles last week are filling some airtime. According to a Monday story in the New York Post, Rove “suggested” that the possible 2016 presidential candidate “may have brain damage.”
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters took the initiative to bat down one of the counterreactions to Rove’s remarks. “One thing I think this is not is — and you’ve heard some of this chatter over the last couple of days — I don’t think this is sexist. I think you would have had these questions come up about Biden. … These questions came up about McCain all the time. I remember how the Obama campaign released that ad, saying how many houses does John McCain have. Well, he can’t quite remember.”
Clinton’s health, Peters said, “is something that Republican strategists have been whispering about for the better part of a year now.” Via Rove, those whispers have now gone public, though Rove perhaps intended them to remain whispers, given that the event at which he spoke was a private affair.
Also on “Morning Joe” today, NBC News chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd voiced a different take on the brain-sexism issue. “If you’re going to go down this road and try to claim that she’s going to have some issues or health issues … then you may have to be throwing your own guy, Ronald Reagan, under the bus a little bit,” said Todd, who also noted that any candidate has to withstand medical-history scrutiny. But: “To sit there and say it only really applies to her, it’s going to look a little sexist if you’re not careful, and it’s going to backfire.”
Note that Todd said that the attack may “look” sexist, not that it actually is sexist. A pivotal difference in the realm of political analysis.