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Monday, April 13, 2015

The Ages of Uncertainty

Time marches on: another election; another Clinton, another Bush. These people- as they become dynastically-interchangeable brand avatars- seem to be around forever. Yet they age like all of us.

So one of the post-announcement memes is that, if elected, the she-Clinton will be the same age- 69- as Ronald Reagan was, on taking office.

This is one of those odd, numbers-driven things people in the chattering classes (at least, those old enough to remember the ascension of Ronaldus Magnus), somehow worth talking about. Yet Republicans can't really exploit it. Agewise, Hillary fits right into their prized, dwindling demographic: old white folks.

Plus, the dog whistle message (that's too old, she's out of touch) won't hunt very well compared to Reagan. There were those who wanted to repeal the two-term ban for him, after all. He faded noticeably in his second term, and within five years of leaving office was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, commencing a long, silent ride into the sunset.

After that experience, the GOP nominated George H.W. Bush for president a second time at 68; Bob Dole at 73, and John McCain at 72.

But, as National Journal (and the risible Carnivora ad on late night radio) notes, Reagan lived to be 93 years old. Life expectancy on taking office, the Journal argues, is a better measure of fitness for office; by that yardstick, Hillary seems set to be a record-breaker yet again.

The "out of touch" clam may have some more traction. Republicans are already road testing the theme on Twitter at #NotVotingForHillary. And, as an article at Medium notes, she has a spiky history with tech issues; her hamfisted email server stunt makes one wonder if her science advisers are Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj, telling her not why she shouldn't do something, just how it's technologically possible and way so cool

On the other hand, most pols' Twitter feeds should be subtitled, "as told to...", and GOP presidential hopeful Lindsey Graham has preened himself for never having sent a single email. Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz couldn't get it together enough to reserve their key campaign website domain names; Bush released sacksful of his gubernatorial emails with the recipients' personal information still plainly readable; nobody thought to vet his chief technology officer's own Internet trail, which is how they didn't know he was a young Republican with enthusiastically racist views.

So far, the ideal template for an ideal campaign tech guy strikes me as The Big Bang Theory's Barry Kripke: smart as a whip, ambitious, yet self-aware enough to have a weawwy fiwm gwip on the weaw wowwd.

They could all do worse. Probably will, too.

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