Most political attacks are designed to provoke a response, and many are better ignored than engaged. Chavez’s hit probably falls in the “ignore” category. After all, she is a fairly obscure source with a history of personal, partisan attacks. Yet, what Chavez says is remarkably outrageous, even by the low standards of political discourse, making it hard to ignore.
Women, according to Chavez, may face certain advantages on gender, “but age isn’t one of them.” Really? Actually and actuarially, women have a fundamental advantage over men when it comes to age: They live longer. In fact, according to a World Health Organization 2014 report summary, “wherever they live in the world, women live longer than men,” with women living around six years longer than men in the United States.
But Chavez isn’t done yet. She acknowledges that one of her heroes, Ronald Reagan, was 69 when he ran for president the first time, the same age Clinton would be if she were to run in 2016. Chavez quickly disposes of this inconvenient contradiction in her argument by making one of the more sexist statements I have seen in a long time: “but age was kinder to Reagan, as it often is to men.” Wow, really? What could that possibly mean other than some ignorant stereotype of physical appearance? Of course, it’s not true. Chavez might want to check out this article or many others that show age can indeed be kind to women or men.
Next, Chavez doubles down by implying that men have more energy than woman have in later life: “Reagan managed to convey energy and vigor by riding horseback and chopping wood” as well as “engaging with voters and debating on the campaign trail.” She conveniently forgets to add that he was also known for taking a nap every day and falling asleep in meetings.
There is much to be said about the buzz surrounding Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential candidacy. If she runs, Clinton may not win, of course. But if she doesn’t win, it won’t be because she is too old or wrinkled.