In 2008, Democrats insisted that Senator John McCain was too old to be president. At a rally introducing Hillary Clinton, Congressman John Murtha criticized him for even running. "It's no old man's job," he said.
Obama and Kerry used language suggesting that McCain was senile. Left-wing activists claimed that could die of skin cancer at any moment. Late night comedians turned McCain's age into a target.
McClatchy headlined a story, "Some wonder if McCain's too old and wrinkly to be president."
There are no stories in which reporters ask passerby if Hillary is too old and wrinkly to take 3 AM phone calls.
In Newsweek, Anna Quindlen, a fanatical Hillary supporter, wrote that, "The senator's pursuit of the presidency reminds me a bit of those women who decide to have a baby in their late 50s." If she has any objection to Hillary's pursuit of the presidency while pushing 70, she hasn't written about it.
By October, spurred by repeated media attacks on his age, 34 percent of Americans said that McCain was too old to be president. The sharp spike in the poll numbers over one month showed how effective the Democratic age smear was.
Had McCain been elected, he would have taken office at 72. If Hillary Clinton wins, she'll be 69. And age is suddenly no longer an issue. Neither is health.
Quindlen emphasized that McCain couldn't lift his arms over his head. No one is going to ask how flexible Hillary Clinton is in body (the political flexibility of the woman who opposed and supported nearly everything at one time or another is already renowned).
The problem as it turned out was not that McCain was old. It was that he was a Republican.
Slate ran an article claiming that McCain's brain would go bad over the next eight years, but discussing the state of Hillary's brain is out of bounds. Late night comedians won't be making jokes about how old Hillary is or how confused she gets in the morning.
Those jokes could only be made about a man who was three years older than she is now.
It's outrageous to question the medical consequences of Hillary's "traumatic brain injury" which took her six months to recover from after passing out and falling down while boarding a plane. But ridiculing Bob Dole's dead arm, an injury he suffered while dragging one of his men into a foxhole out of enemy fire during WW2, or McCain's inability to lift his arms or perform certain tasks after they were broken by his torturers, was part of the game.
We can question the health of war veterans, but not of a career politician.
There will be no stories about how wrinkled Hillary's skin is. No one will ask her if she can tie her shoes. Or if she can use Twitter without an assistant. Or whether she forgets things sometimes.
But if a Republican in his late sixties or early seventies becomes a candidate, then the switch will flip and suddenly asking those questions will become fair game.
The issue isn't Hillary's brain. It's that Democrats don't consider themselves accountable in the same way that they expect Republicans to be. It's that they consider attacks on Republicans fair game that they are too thin-skinned to accept when they rebound on them.
If Hillary isn't too old and if her health is off limits, then Democrats should admit that they engaged in cynical ageist attacks to win the White House. But that too would be accountability.
And we have a crisis of accountability.
The Democrat in the White House and his associates refuse to accept responsibility for anything or to display even a smidgen of intellectual consistency. Every press conference and press release is a torrent of lies that isn't even tangentially related to the truth. Any call for accountability results in an explosion of outrage as if the very act of holding the ruling party accountable is a crime.
The huffing and puffing over the suggestion that a woman who took six months to recover from a serious health episode may have health problems that will affect her performance is typical of the way that the Democratic Party behaves.
And of the way that its media auxiliaries echo its agenda.
When Murtha accused McCain of being too old, the media took the attack seriously. When Karl Rove mentioned Hillary's health problem, the majority of the stories focused on it as a cynical attack. This partisan coverage gap is not an anomaly. It's the new normal.
The problem isn't Hillary's brain damage. It's the Democratic Party's brain damage.
The Democratic Party, which has been around since the early 19th century, is just too old. The parts of its brain that relate to accountability and integrity have been burned out. The political party suffered a traumatic brain episode in the sixties and it hasn't recovered from it since. The left side of its political brain is dominant while the right side has completely withered away.
The Democrats keep insisting that they're moving forward, when they're actually wandering off to the left without even being able to recognize it. They insist that they're centrist when they've completely drifted off the road.
It doesn't matter how young or old its candidates are as long as they base their worldview around discredited 19th century ideas about economics and equally discredited 20th century ideas about the virtues of central planning. A youthful body with a decayed brain rotting with ideas that were old when Nixon and LBJ were toddlers isn't progressive.
It's hopelessly reactionary.
Obama may have been in his late forties when elected, but his ideas were around one hundred and forty years old. No matter what age Hillary is, her ideas are equally old and unworkable. It's not the state of her brain that's the problem, it's the things she's been putting in there since a very young age.
The Democratic Party has become a brain damaged party of old radicals in youthful bodies. Its radicalism leaves it incapable of performing such basic mental functions as practicing intellectual consistency. It no longer believes in universal truths or codes of behavior. It insists with senile petulance that it should be allowed to do and say anything it wants while its opponents should not be allowed to say or do anything at all.
Eight years of this partisan totalitarianism has divided the country as never before and Democrats, with predictable hypocrisy, refuse to take any responsibility for this state of divisiveness or its outcome. They also refuse to take responsibility for the setbacks in the War on Terror or the economy.
Or for anything at all.
If Hillary and her Democratic Party really want to demonstrate their mental fitness, they can start by naming one single new economic idea that they've brought to the table in the last seventy years. And if they can't, working Americans will ask themselves whether they can afford another eight years of 19th century economics from a political party whose last new idea is even older than Hillary.