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Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop
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Hillary Clinton Is Too Old for What?


The esteemed political writer Charlie Cook recently produced a column titled "Is Hillary Clinton Too Old to Run?" Despite couching his thoughts with a mention that if Clinton were to run, she would be the same age as Ronald Reagan when he was first elected president, 69, he did venture over the sexism line.

The giveaway came toward the end when Cook noted that Clinton could be challenged for the nomination by Vice President Joe Biden, without noting Biden's age. Biden is almost five years older than she is.

In response to the raised eyebrows, Cook's next column was headlined "Is Joe Biden Too Old to Run?" In it, Cook explained that the Clinton column was not about the vice president. True, but it was about the age of presidential candidates, wasn't it?

Both men and women face age discrimination, but it's no secret that for women, ageism mixes easily with sexism. And obsessing over a woman's year of birth is often a slightly more respectable substitute for the latter.

Of course, age can be a consideration as it relates to questions of health. The best approach is to take the candidates one at a time. Frankly, I'd rather be insuring 71-year-old Joe Biden than 51-year-old Chris Christie, New Jersey's overweight governor and an oft-mentioned presidential candidate (though not so much these days).

The point is that age arguments get dumped on women without much reflection. During the 2008 presidential campaign, the late Christopher Hitchens famously dismissed Clinton as an "aging and resentful female." Even some liberal supporters of Barack Obama were not above making outrageously ageist/sexist remarks.

I don't recall similar conversations on another presidential candidate running in 2008 — and again in 2012 — Republican Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor remains a vigorous man, and if he wanted to run again, why would his vintage be an issue?

True, Clinton is not the same age as Romney.

She's seven months younger.

Cook pointed out that Clinton did suffer an episode of fainting after a grueling travel schedule as secretary of state. Fair enough. But then he went on to discuss Bill Clinton's heart surgery, adding that while "he looks healthy," presidential campaigns are "team efforts."

Again, was anyone raising such concerns about Romney's wife, Ann, who had been diagnosed with both multiple sclerosis and breast cancer? She actually shared her medical story on the campaign trail, a not-bad political strategy.

Cook interestingly reported that of the 4,200 comments after his Hillary Clinton piece, the vast majority "were anti-Clinton and among the most vitriolic" that he has "encountered in 28 years of column writing." This reflects, he said, an enduring "deep-seated hatred for the Clintons."

No doubt that's an accurate take on a passionate subculture, but what is the political reality? Thousands of Clintons-are-bums comments say nothing other than Clinton haters have a lot of time on their hands. They make shows of force to leave the impression that they are legion. (That's especially easy to do when everyone else is watching the Olympics.)

It seems that no one really likes the Clintons except the great majority of the people. Be mindful that on the heels of the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, Bill Clinton left office with a higher approval rating than did Reagan.

The mission here is not to organize a brass band to follow another "Clinton for President" parade, which, one must note, Clinton has not yet committed herself to lead. Other worthy candidates may well join the race.

The mission is to ensure that questions on politicians' ages be divided equally among the genders. Not doing so is worse than unfair.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at



5 Comments | Post Comment
To say Clinton shoulden't run for president because she is too old is petty and ageist. She shoulden't run because she is a corperate pawn who is beholden to big oil and bank money. And she is a downright evil person. Every story people tell about her as a person tells about the same thing: that she is a nasty and controlling person.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:25 PM
If, as you infer, "the great majority of the people" like the Clinton's, I shall remain content to be in the minority who distrust both of them, particularly the elder distaff member of that particular political duo. Even a cursory glance at her record shows deliberate deceit over many years in both public office and private enterprise, ranging from the Benghazi fiasco to the Rose Law Office papers and beyond.
Leaving age and character out of the equation, there is also the health issue with her medical history of blood clots. Makes her as risky for stroke as the younger Chris Christie. We do not elect, or should not elect presidents or choose candidates for public office at any level based on their age (excepting the Constitutionally mandated minimums), their health, or their gender, but on their proven ability and upright character to serve the best interests of this country and the citizens thereof.
I do applaud your championing of "fairness" and "equality", but the reality is that so long as there is inequality in the numbers of men and women as office-holders and as candidates for office, there will be no equal division of questions regarding age, health, qualifications or anything else having to do with a candidates suitability for office. The majority and those who have power will always question the minority and those who have less power in an effort to remain the majority, to keep their power and put the minority and those with little power on the defensive.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Wanda Tillman
Thu Feb 20, 2014 7:30 AM
Re: Wanda Tillman... Forget about your fears of Mrs. Clinton as president... It will NEVER happen... Age in a youth oriented society is a curse, and consider all the other curses she must overcome to even have a shot... She is not above selling out the opportunity for an office she must know by now she will never hold, or selling her support, as I am certain Mr. Clinton has done... There is a lot of money, and a lot of support for Mrs. Clinton at the highest levels of the democrat party... That Support would be better pointed in the direction of some woman with a good and agile mind who can win the office...I would never make the mistake of suggesting that women are in any sense better human beings than men; but the very people who would be the last to seek office, meaning house wives, who know how to manage a budget, and manage children with their sensitive and overbearing personalities inside of weak egos would be good for the office...
Men are always looking for leverage, legitimate or not... Consider Carl Rove, or Chris Christie here; but women understand politics as the ability to achieve legitimate goals without physical leverage... Do I think that most women would be as inclined to embrace international murder for a political end as so many of our men have??? No; and yet I do believe Mrs. Clinton would not hesitate to put any life out of the picture if it stood between her and her political ambition...
She should not be overly condemned for doing what any of those political psychopaths would do; but we should be aware that none of these people, primarily men, republicans and democrats considered together- puts their virtue or their eternal souls above political office... The dark powers these offices hold as a result of our near total want of democracy are an invitation to soul selling to the highest bidder...
The whole idea of a house of reps that would grow with the population was to keep it responsive to the needs of the people, and not an object of barter... No one should have so much power that its price exceeds the value of their virtue...
Let people buy me... My price is low, bottom dollar because I have only my vote and my voice, and no one will give me a nickle... And I like it that way with never a moral justification crossing my mind...The moment some one gets close to my price it is time to toss them off the porch, as Lincoln once did... The fact that we have no democracy does not mean we are all beyond corruption, but I would much prefer a sort of corruption that left everyone asking how their palms might be greased, rather than a select few...
Do you see what I mean??? When we have to look at our paragons of Virtue, our dear women, as gross and as greedy for political swill as the men- it can only turn the civil stomach...
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:58 AM
Prove that Hillary is not too old to run by having her dodge sniper fire, again. Oh, wait. There wasn't a first time. In that case she shouldn't run because she lied about that and BENGHAZI and the video and well, you know.
Comment: #4
Posted by: David Henricks
Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:37 PM
As a lifelong conservative and observer of US politics, I can assure you that Hillary Clinton is perfectly capable of defending herself against such ridiculous charges. Why would she, though? She has a legion of sycophants in the media who are more than willing to take umbrage for her. I know, the irony may be lost here. Especially since all of the vile, sexist, objectifying comments made towards conservative women apparently don't rate such a "Lavinia, pass the smelling salts, Hillary's pulchritude has come into question again." response.

The hypocricket -- the official musician of the Democratic party.
Comment: #5
Posted by: perldog
Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:19 AM
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