Old Folks Boogie
Most folks realize that we are all heading for our second taste of non-existence at a constant rate of one day per day (don’t give me none of those event horizon/Protoss portal/twins paradoxical time bending maundering, either you denizens of ‘con and SciFi channel) .
What’s more — and I’ll admit this may be the fifty-something me talking, so feel free to challenge this presumption in the comments — I’m guessing that most of us recognize certain rewards that accrue as we successfully complete each circuit ’round the sun. Losses too, of course, and more of them as the decades past (I’d love to reacquaint myself with my knees of twenty years ago, and certain summers, and the people now gone always and most of all).
But I wouldn’t want to give up what I’ve learned, the stuff I now know how to do, the way I come at the world with enough understanding to help me act each day with at least a bit more capacity than I had in my happy, high energy, dumb 20s (or 40s). What’s more I value evidence of that kind of accumulated judgment in folks who seek to lead me and my country (and world). I don’t think I’m entirely alone in this.*
Which is why I read this in today’s NYT with such…well…
Jonathan Martin’s piece on the GOP’s emerging strategy for dealing with the presumptive Hilary Clinton juggernaut is in fact a masterpiece of subtle knife work. I join with many here in frustration with the Grey Lady’s op-ed page, and its lean towards unexamined establishment assumptions in some of its journalism, and the Style page and all the “trends” crap that shows up there, in the magazine and elsewhere can go DIAF. But the paper still boasts the deepest bench of journalists and some very smart observer/analysts (to compensate for the BoBos and the MoS’s), and Martin here shows what can be done with artfully presented absolutely straight reporting.
The shorter: Clinton is old. She’s oldy-oldy-sere-ancient-and-by-the-way-did-I-mention-she’s-an-antique?-old is the new line of attack that that the usual-suspects GOP choir seem to think will propel one of their new, fresh faces to the top prize.
Apparently those new faces are Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Bobbie Jindal (no, really! Don’t laugh) and Chris Christie. And the case being made for these stalwarts (in order: Mr. bring back apartheid lunch counters, bundle o’nerves reaching for his water bottle, Kenneth the Page, and the fanboi of that Demo-Socialist Bruce Springsteen and unofficial 2012 Kenyan Usurper running mate) is that such youth and vigor will so contrast with Hilary Clinton’s wrinkles and general decreptitude so as to sweep away any niggling doubts on substance.
It’s the branding problem again, of course: if you believe that, then there’s no need to attend to any doubts about what the party would sell with any of these pitchmen — and here’s where Martin’s piece turns into such a nicely thrust stiletto. He mentions in passing the fact that if anyone views Obama’s relative youth and lack of experience as a negative, that won’t enhance the chances of anyone less seasoned still, and I think that’s fair enough. But the real wounds come from simply his straight reporting: these guys ain’t got nothing. Those that aren’t already roadkill (Bobbie Jindal? Aqua Buddha, please) have no more than Rand Paul’s claim that he’ll ride to victory powered by marijuana farmers and those for whom electoral politics begin and end with the NSA. That’s some folks, I’ll grant you…but I don’t think they’re enough to withstand that portion of the electorate mobilized by the quote with which Martin ends his article:
The radio host Rush Limbaugh, echoing his commentary from her first presidential run, asked his audience in April whether the American people “want to vote for somebody, a woman, and actually watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?”
Yup, says Rush. American ain’t gonna vote for a non-hawt female. Just can’t happen. Nope, no way, no how.
Did I mention how happy I am that the Republicans are already letting their freak flag fly on this one?
Just to recap: The current Republican party’s strongest demographic is older white folks. Some of those will be pissed off at the dismissiveness of age, experience, accumulated knowledge and competence acquired over a long haul. Younger people too, I’d guess; the idea of letting someone four years into playing senator on C-span after a career as a self-accredited eye doctor anywhere near the launch codes is, frankly, pretty scary to a lot of folks up and down the demographic ladder.
Now add this thought: the Republican party is desperate to overcome its gender gap. And here it seems to be making its case by asserting that the presidency shouldn’t go to a women it views as getting less attractive by the day — because she grows older one day per day.
What can I say?
*What about Obama v. McCain, then? Well, just to get this out of the way…(a) actual policy choices are what I look at first, and if one soundly beats another there, that’s the game, for my vote at least. And (b) to paraphrase a quote from James Michener’s DFH novel, The Drifters, there’s a subset of old farts who may say they’ve got fifty years of experience when what they really have is one year, repeated fifty times. McCain in a nutshell, IMHO.
Image: Titian, St. Jerome, betw. 1570 and 1575.