About a year and a half ago, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was treated for a blood clot in her head after a fall. Clinton had been weak due to a stomach virus and fainted, hitting her head. Her doctors said they were confident in a full recovery, and by all medical accounts Clinton did recover fully, and is now in the planning stages of what will likely be a Presidential run.
But someone else is questioning Clinton’s health in the aftermath of her head injury. Republican strategist Karl Rove, the mastermind behind George W. Bush’s two successful presidential campaigns, says he thinks there may be more to the Clinton head injury than we’ve been allowed to see.
“Thirty days in the hospital?” asked Rove. “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.”
Rove certainly can ask legitimate questions about the health of a presumed presidential candidate. Issues of age and health come up in every race of that magnitude. But many think he went too far in this case.
Even Newt Gingrich is taking Rove to task over the comment.
“I was angry when people did this to [Ronald] Reagan in 1980 and I am angry when they do it to her today,” said Gingrich. He said that this “is exactly what’s wrong with American politics.”
It is important to note that Clinton was only in the hospital for three days, not 30. This may seem like a legitimate mistake, but how many people will hear that “30 days” figure and look no further? It may sound silly to think that Rove would say such a thing on purpose, counting on the shallow research inclinations of most of America’s voters. But it would not be the first time he has done such a thing.
Back in 2000, Rove’s client George W. Bush was running in a Republican presidential primary against John McCain. In the South Carolina primary, Rove’s machine published a “push poll”, asking South Carolina voters how they would feel if they learned that John McCain had an illegitimate black “love child”. McCain does have a black baby, one that he and his wife adopted. But voters only heard the suggestion, saw McCain in photo ops with his black child, and McCain lost South Carolina. He subsequently dropped out of the race.
Ed Kilgore at The Washington Monthly’s “Political Animal” blog calls these tactics by Rove “drive-bys”.
“Not only do Rove’s drive-bys leave debris on their victims; he always seems to escape unscathed,” Kilgore said.
Laura Clawson notes, “And Rove will sit back and pretend to be all serious and respectable and deny that he was claiming any such thing – he just thought it needed to be investigated, is all.”
President Bill Clinton has spoken out on his wife’s behalf. “Look, she works out every week, she is strong, she’s doing great. As far as I can tell she’s in better shape than I am. She certainly seems to have more stamina now,” he said.
Clinton got in a jab on Rove, too.
“I got to give him credit, you know, that embodies that old saying that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. First they said she faked her concussion. And now they say she’s auditioning for a part on the Walking Dead,” he said.
Rove himself has doubled down on his comments, perhaps sensing an opening that people will listen to.
“No, no. I didn’t say she had brain damage [Rove said “brain injury”], she had a serious health episode and my point was that I think it was from the 7th of December in 2012 through the 7th of January of 2013, she underwent, first she had apparently a serious virus. They announced then on the 15th of December that she had at some period in the past week fallen. They didn’t say when, they didn’t say where. She was recovering at home. On the 30th of December she goes in and turns out to have had a blood clot. They won’t say where. The next day they say it is between her skull and her brain behind her right ear. She is in the hospital for four days. She goes home, is back in the office on the 7th and testifies on the 25th wearing special glasses that allow her to deal with the double vision that this episode caused,” Rove said.
Opponents say that Rove’s days of being effective in the field of electoral politics are over, after he predicted a huge with for Mitt Romney in 2012.
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