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Karl Rove's Attack On Hillary Clinton Is More Than Gross. It's Bad Political Strategy.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Karl Rove's recent comments about Hillary Clinton have received a fair amount of criticism in the press, even from Republicans. As The New York Post reported:

He said if Clinton runs for president, voters must be told what happened when she suffered a fall in December 2012. The official diagnosis was a blood clot. Rove told the conference near LA Thursday, “Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.”

In response, former Bush White House Communications Director Nicole Wallace labeled Rove's remarks "off the wall." Wallace might be right in more ways than she realizes. As she went on to say:

“Karl did not raise the issue by accident,” the Republican political commentator said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday morning. “I worked with Karl for a long time. This was a deliberate strategy on his part to raise her health as an issue and, I think in his view, a legitimate line of questioning ahead of the next campaign. What’s interesting to me and doesn’t seem to be in line with Karl, is that he had some of the facts wrong. She wasn’t in the hospital for 30 days.”

Other people have also scolded Rove for the disgusting comments, but if Wallace is correct—and I assume she is—Rove's strategy is "off the wall" too. Remember, this isn't the first sign of a Republican strategy to attack Clinton on age-related issues. The New York Times reported almost a year ago that Clinton's age might play a part in an upcoming campaign. I jokingly wrote at the time that this was clearly a conscious Republican strategy to forfeit the election to Clinton:

Did any Republican quoted for this article happen to catch the 2008 Democratic primary? I have another idea: Why not spend the election focusing on how Clinton dresses, make an effort to refer to her as shrill, question her likeability, and even raise the issue of whether women are too emotional for the presidency. That seems like a better strategy.

Rove has always been overrated as a strategist. (If the Florida recount had gone the other way, Bush's decision to campaign in New Jersey and California in the week before the 2000 election would have gone down as one of the great blunders in campaign history.) But, as with Rand Paul's comments about Monica Lewinsky, Republicans seem completely confused as to how to run against Hillary Clinton. The two times Clinton has been most popular or politically robust were during the Lewinsky mess and parts of the 2008 campaign, when she came to be seen as a victim of media sexism. Perhaps Rove is so Machiavellian that for some reason he wants Clinton to win in 2016, thus ensuring...who knows what? Either that or his comments are simply dumb as well as nasty.