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Hillary Clinton has myriad problems; age isn’t one of them

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There are good reasons to vote against Hillary Clinton. She’s an unreformed hawk, a true believer in big government and a tedious speaker. During her 2008 campaign against Barack Obama, she waffled on immigration, disparaged free trade and compared her opponent, unfavorably, to John McCain.

Mrs. Clinton made false statements about her role in the 1993 White House travel-office scandal, defended her husband as he lied about Monica Lewinsky, lost records requested by prosecutors in another scandal only to find them two years later and managed to make $100,000 trading on cattle futures in suspicious circumstances. She has offered no discernible reason she should be president beyond her resume and her sex.

If I had to come up with reasons not to vote against her, though, the list is shorter — including that, at 67, she’s too old. But that’s one that Republicans seem determined to flog.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, 47, raised the issue by saying he’s in no rush to make a White House race because “I could run 20 years from now and still be about the same age as the former secretary of State is right now.” In case anyone missed his point, he added that Clinton “embodies that old, tired top-down approach from the government.”

Others have been less subtle. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, 72, flashed his trademark wit, saying the 2016 Democrat field resembles “a rerun of ‘The Golden Girls.’” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul expressed concern that Hillary might not be up to the “rigorous physical ordeal” of a presidential campaign.

This line of attack should permanently debunk the charge that conservatives are inflexible. Paul showed no distress when his father, Ron, ran for president in 2012 at age 76. In 2008, McConnell’s party nominated McCain, who was 72. Last time, it picked Mitt Romney, who may run again in 2016 despite being seven months older than Clinton.

The 1996 GOP presidential nominee, Bob Dole, was 73. Party idol Ronald Reagan was 69 when he took office — the same age as Clinton would be.

Senility is a risk that goes with senior citizen discounts but age has compensations as well. Had Bill Clinton been 66 when he took office instead of 46, he might have left the interns alone. In 2008, McCain called Obama “a young man with very little experience.” That was before the Arizona senator picked a running mate who was even younger and less experienced.

Even during his re-election campaign, at age 51, one conservative commentator called Obama “callow.” If Democrats chose to nominate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. (47), or Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (51), you would not hear a chorus of conservatives exclaiming, “Now I’ll have to consider voting Democrat.”

The real problem with Hillary Clinton is that in all likelihood she will remain vigorous enough to assure eight years of military crusading, budget expansion, economic meddling and irritating moralism. A dozing geezer, a burned-out comet, a spent volcano? Don’t I wish.

Steve Chapman blogs daily at newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/steve_chapman.

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