How much does the Republican establishment fear a Hillary Clinton candidacy for president?
Enough to blame her for the abduction of 260 Nigerian schoolgirls by a terrorist organization.
Enough for Dr. Karl Rove — you didn’t know he had a medical degree? — to suggest she may have suffered brain damage from a recent fall.
Enough, in other words, to make up a medical history and enough to engage in spinning fantasies about terrorists. Because on Fox News, on rightwing talk radio, and in the conservative blogosphere, an accusation once made, no matter how false or irrelevant, has a life of its own. The Republican base will repeat the accusation and believe it, regardless of evidence to the contrary.
The strategy is simple: Through stuff out there; enough of it may stick to damage the chances of the one candidate the GOP fears the most.
The absurdity of the accusation that Hillary Clinton bears responsibility for the Nigerian schoolgirl abductions has not deterred some conservatives. The assertion is Clinton failed to put Boko Haram, the group holding the Nigerian girls, on the list of foreign terrorist organizations when she was secretary of state. Doing so might “have saved these girls earlier,” Elisabeth Hasselbeck asserted on Fox News.
Megyn Kelly, also on Fox, suggested Clinton failed to designate Boko Haram because she feared angering them, to which a guest on her show accused Clinton of giving the group a “green light.”
Rush Limbaugh, the never bashful Clinton basher, opined, “The Boko Haram leader, or whoever Boko Haram had perform on video, is a good-looking guy. This is why Mrs. Clinton wouldn’t call this terror group a terror group, because they’re black.”
On the floor of the House of Representatives, Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas picked up on the accusations, asserting Clinton “protected” the terrorists.
Here are the facts of the matter: The Clinton-led State Department declined to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organization because the government of Nigeria and academic experts argued against it. Both Nigeria and the experts considered the group a domestic Nigerian organization. Clinton, however, did place three of Boko Haram’s leaders on a terrorist list.
We can thank the New York Post for revealing Karl Rove’s stunning medical diagnosis. “Thirty days in the hospital? 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 claimed at a conference in California earlier this week.
Clinton spent three, not thirty, days in a hospital for tests after she fell in her home and suffered a concussion. She briefly wore glasses known as Fresnel prisms, which treat double vision. The prisms were made of clear plastic pasted on to her glasses, a common practice when the double vision is expected to be temporary.
Bill Clinton had great fun Wednesday mocking Rove. “First they said she faked her concussion, and now they say she’s auditioning for a part on ‘The Walking Dead,’ ” he said, a reference to a TV series about zombies. “If she does [have brain damage], then I must be in really tough shape because she’s still quicker than I am.”
If Hillary Clinton runs and wins in 2016, she would be 69 when she enters the White House, marginally younger than Ronald Reagan was on Inauguration Day. Needless to say, it’s a strenuous job and the health of the occupant of the office should be an issue. Fanciful medical diagnoses by the untrained ought not to be part of the debate, however.
Rove’s remarks, one Clinton spokesperson said, shows the Republicans are “scared of what she has to offer.” Bill Clinton echoed that comment, saying this week’s accusations are “just the beginning, and they’ll get better at it.”