Maybe it’s time for Eleanor Clift, age 76, to call it quits after a long and distinguished career. What distinguishes her career most is its coincidence with those halcyon years for now-aging liberal journalists (think also Dan Rather, who is 84) when the “news” automatically tilted left and no one in the American public was any the wiser.
Clift’s column on Monday argues that the reason there is so much fuss over Hillary Clinton’s health is that she’s a woman. It’s worth pausing and noting that Clift has been around long enough to remember a time before the coining of the word sexism, when articles like hers would never have been conceived of.
But Clift’s column now makes as little sense as it would have in 1950, when she would more likely have been out playing been jacks with other little girls in the neighborhood than penning angry, if ineffectual, columns. The subtitle of her article — “Older men look distinguished. Older women, well… The deck is stacked against Clinton here” — is frankly about as silly as you can get.
That’s not to say she doesn’t get sillier in the column proper:
It’s worth pointing out that Trump is 70 and while he doesn’t have pneumonia, he’s not exactly a picture of health. The point is that we as a society give the guys a lot more leeway than we give the women. We’re accustomed to older men in leadership positions. John McCain and Bob Dole were both over 70 when they ran for president. The media didn’t obsess over it, though we rightly scrutinized their vice-presidential picks, and McCain’s choice of an obviously unqualified Sarah Palin cost him votes.
A paragraph later, she shoots her own argument in the foot by noting that Golda Meir was 70 when she was elected prime minister of Israel and 75 when she “successfully prosecuted the Yom Kippur war.”
It’s possible, I suppose, that her point here is that Israelis are more enlightened than Americans (which could be the first nice thing Clift has ever said about Israel). But even there her agument falls apart. Off the top of my head, I was able to come up with the names of five female members of Congress who I confirmed to be 75 or older: Barbara Boxer (75), Nancy Pelosi (76), Eleanor Holmes Norton (79), Barbara Mikulski (80), and Dianne Feinstein (83). Granted, none of them is running for president, but age was certainly raised as an issue when both the Senators Clift names were running. To quell liberal claims that he was too old and too feeble to run, McCain agreed to release a medical report that ran upward of 1,100 pages.
More importantly, Hillary Clinton’s health problems can’t be explained away as a one-off fainting spell last Sunday. Her health has apparently been an issue for some time, judging from an email exchange from 2015 that was leaked this morning between Colin Powell and Democratic mega donor Jeffrey Leeds. In it Leeds quotes Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse , whom he describes as a “huge Clinton supporter” remarking that both he and Clinton gave “speeches at the same event a few months back and she could barely climb the podium steps.”
The editor of Clift’s article chose as its “art” a closeup photo of Clinton that is rosy-cheeked and from which most of the age wrinkles have been airbrushed out. That doesn’t change the reality that American voters are worried about Hillary Clinton, age and sex notwithstanding, and no amount of finger wagging from Eleanor Clift is going to change that one iota.