I really don't believe the public is going to fall for this -- at least not directly. However, I think it's possible that the mainstream press will fall for it, repeat it endlessly, and make it seem plausible to the public:
Stuart Stevens, the top strategist for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, declared to an audience of reporters at a breakfast last month that electing Hillary Rodham Clinton would be like going back in time. "She's been around since the '70s," he said.That's from Jonathan Martin, who left Politico last month and is doing at The New York Times what everyone at Politico has done for years: listen to right-wingers' claims that their talking points are conventional wisdom and objective truth, then regurgitate those talking points as if they are conventional wisdom and objective truth.
At a conservative conference earlier in the year, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, ridiculed the 2016 Democratic field as “a rerun of 'The Golden Girls,'" referring to Mrs. Clinton and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is 70.
And Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, seizing on the Fleetwood Mac song that became a Clinton family anthem, quipped to an audience in Washington, "If you want to keep thinking about tomorrow, maybe it’s time to put somebody new in."
The 2016 election may be far off, but one theme is becoming clear: Republican strategists and presidential hopefuls, in ways subtle and overt, are eager to focus a spotlight on Mrs. Clinton's age. The former secretary of state will be 69 by the next presidential election, a generation removed from most of the possible Republican candidates.
Despite her enduring popularity, a formidable fund-raising network and near unanimous support from her party, Mrs. Clinton, Republican leaders believe, is vulnerable to appearing a has-been....
When enough mainstream journalists do this, GOP talking points become the C.W. and the truth, as far as the political world is concerned. And then the stories get written with the talking point as a given. See, e.g., 2000, when we were all told we thought Al Gore was an annoying dweeb and George W. Bush was America's Big Man on Campus. The repetition of such talking points is what can sway voters.
But in the absence of that, I don't think the public is inclined to reject Hillary for her age. For one thing, the population is aging, with the biggest cohort being the baby boom -- particularly my age group, people born in the late 1950s. Does Hillary seem old? She's not much older than we are.
Beyond that, as Martin acknowledges, older candidates can win young people's votes. Ronald Reagan did extremely well with the young in 1984. (And Martin doesn't mention this, but the last non-Democrat to find favor with a significant segment of The Kidz is Crazy Uncle Liberty himself, Ron Paul, who's more than a decade older than Hillary.)
If Hillary is going to be the candidate in 2016, she's almost certainly going to be up against a guy who opposes abortion and gay marriage and denies that climate change is caused by humans. More to the point, unless Bobby Jindal runs every likely opponent is a pale male whose candidacy stands for a restoration, a return to the rule of white males. And no, I don't care how many Tupac lyrics Rubio recites -- bond traders know their Tupac, too.
But the press will fall for this. (Did I mention sexism? That's one big reason.) I can even imagine middle-aged male journos telling us that Hillary belongs to yesterday because Chris Christie is a big fan of that oh-so-hip Bruce Springsteen -- never mind the fact that Bruce is only two years younger than Hillary. The press might abandon this meme if the charisma-challenged Scott Walker gets the nomination -- even a press that reflexively parrots GOP spin would have tough time selling that guy as a rock star. Otherwise, we're going to hear it. And I hope we utterly reject it.