Karl Rove's suggestion that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may be suffering lingering effects from a December 2012 brain injury has been slammed by Clinton's camp and other Democrats -- as well as many in the media -- but it's no different from concerns raised about veterans who suffered similar injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In fact, medical research by the military and others over the past decade has led to a much better understanding of how even moderate brain trauma can have lingering effects, including post-traumatic stress, causing military officials to institute mandatory screenings for troops involved in such incidents.
The New York Post on Monday reported that Rove stunned a conference audience on Thursday when he suggested that -- as the paper reported -- Clinton "may have brain damage."
“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,” Rove was quoted as saying.
Actually, Clinton, 66, was hospitalized for three days for a potentially dangerous blood clot in her head after suffering a concussion from a fall, according to news reports.
Appearing on Fox News on Tuesday, Rove denied he said Clinton was suffering from brain damage, but defended his basic concern, saying "this is going to be an issue" if she runs in 2016.
The Clinton camp's reaction was dismissive. “Karl Rove has deceived the country for years, but there are no words for this level of lying,” an unnamed Clinton spokesperson told the Post on Monday. “She is 100 percent. Period.”
Her operatives were still trying to quash media questioning about Clinton's health on Tuesday.
Clinton spox to @brikeilarcnn: Rove attack was "flagrant." "She is 100%, period. Time for them to move on to their next desperate attack."— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) May 13, 2014
And some media figures have joined in the criticism:
Sure, the Clinton's are paranoid, but who else but Hillary gets subjected to this s--t? http://t.co/ajOe7du36l— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) May 13, 2014
But it's fair to ask whether Clinton is suffering lingering effects from her brain injury, especially if she decides to run for president. And saying "she's fine, so shut up and quit asking" is not a good enough answer.
Even Democrats in Congress understand this — otherwise why would they be demanding greater federal action to counter the effects of brain injuries?
Here are two examples:
-- On May 7, two Democratic senators, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Tom Udall of New Mexico, wrote a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking the agency to track the prevalence of concussions in youth sports activities because of concerns about their effects.
-- Another Democrat, Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, introduced legislation in the House on March 14 that would establish federal requirements to improve research and treatment of traumatic brain injuries. Among the reasons cited in the legislation for why the requirements are needed: "Traumatic brain injury is a substantial public health problem among older persons."
Clinton tried to stonewall and deceive the press about her health when she was injured while serving as a Cabinet official in the Obama administration and she's playing the same game while she flirts with a presidential run.
This time, she shouldn't get a free pass.