Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Community News Network

April 21, 2014

Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

WASHINGTON — There are few happier events than becoming a grandmother, and almost none that says quite so loudly "over the hill."

Ageism mixed with sexism is a toxic brew, but somehow tolerated. It's a joke, but not a funny one, that women age in dog years, which means that no male candidate will ever be as old as Hillary is now at 462.

The issue of age has come up with male candidates (and most are men). In 2008, a Gallup poll found that 23 percent of Americans believed that John McCain's age - he would be 72 on Inauguration Day 2009 - would make him a less effective president. In response, McCain lowered the median age of the ticket to 58 by choosing Sarah Palin, 44, as his running mate.

Ronald Reagan turned his age into a laughing matter (he was almost 70 on Inauguration Day 1981), batting back a question with a quip about not using his opponent's youth and inexperience against him. He so successfully finessed the issue that no one knew the chuckle and cocked head were masking the early stages of Alzheimer's.

Given that all the Republicans' obvious 2016 contenders are young and male, ageism and sexism are safe, if unfair, lines of attack for the party. Among its potential candidates are two fresh-faced wacko birds - McCain's description, not mine - Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, 51, the pouty, curly-haired elf, who calls himself part of the Facebook Generation; and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a 42-year-old with the chiseled features of a hawk. Then there's Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who looks even younger than his 43 years, and the boyish Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, 44. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie looks his age (51), but probably not for long. The camera adds 10 years and 10 pounds to a physique that doesn't need it. He didn't have his stomach stapled just for health reasons.

Hillary has weighed in on what being a woman adds to the rigors of campaigning. Hair (gray is distinguished on men; on women, not so much), makeup and averting wardrobe malfunctions require rising at least an hour earlier than a male candidate. Just last week, she remarked that the scrutiny of public life can be "dehumanizing and isolating." She hasn't seen anything yet.

What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years. Flextime and other efforts try to compensate for that, but no legislation is ever going to make a day longer than 24 hours or allow a mother to be in two places at once.

We may find out if a grandchild can impinge on a grandmother's peak presidential campaign years. Like children, grandchildren don't wait for you to be there to roll over, sit up, smile and say your name. Hillary's first stint in the White House provided time with family because the family lived above the store. No such luck with a grandchild. You have to go to them.

And maybe Hillary can have it both ways. She might be able to campaign, govern, attend the Group of 8 and be kept up all night by exploding Ukraines and still be able to zip off to read "The Little Engine That Could" to a grandchild.

But even bionic Hillary will realize that age mixed with a generational shift is a vivid reminder that our years on earth are finite. Hillary and her husband have both glimpsed the Grim Reaper from hospital beds. She may think twice about how best to spend those dwindling years: at a chicken fry in Iowa and working rope lines in New Hampshire or dandling Chelsea's new baby on her knee.

The Clintons have signaled how aware they are of the torch passing to a new generation. Chelsea is now a principal in their enterprises. Hillary said "grandmother-to-be" is her most exciting title yet. Bill Clinton said that Hillary wanted to be a grandmother more than she wanted to be president.

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • A night in Ferguson

    For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald's a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown's shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby.

    August 14, 2014