BY MIA FREEDMAN
When you have a skirmish with someone on social media, the world is watching. OK, not the world. Nelson Mandela and Lady Gaga are usually pretty busy but there are always plenty of strangers keen to jump in and pelt you with tomatoes.
And that’s how it went down earlier this week when I became the public target of some pretty choice insults from iconic Australian feminist Anne Summers. It started innocently enough – it always does. I was having a chat on Twitter with my friend, journalist Julia Baird, about Hillary Clinton.
I’ve always loved Hillary and never more than now. She’s at the top of her game, in the prime of her career. She’s no longer defined as someone’s wife or mother. She’s kicking goals, kicking arse and winning international acclaim as secretary of state (which is the equivalent of our foreign minister but with actual power and immeasurable influence).
As Julia and I tweeted cheerily about how magnificent Hillary is, the subject of whether she’d run for president in 2016 popped up. Could this be her time? Her window?
A US president can only serve two concurrent terms so assuming Obama is reelected this year, he cannot run again in 2016. He’ll be done. This leaves the way open for Hillary to contest the Democratic ticket for the presidency, something she missed out on when her party picked Obama over her in 2008.
Except. Hillary will be 69 in 2016. Is that too old to put your hand up for the most important and demanding job in the world? I mildly observed on Twitter that perhaps it was. That perhaps 2016 would be too late for Hillary. Not because she’s a woman but because I think being the President Of The United States (POTUS) is a younger person’s game. Not a 30 year old but not a 70 year old either.
That’s when famed Australian feminist and author Anne Summers unexpectedly parachuted into our conversation:
When someone suggested that was a bit harsh, she replied:
I was a bit reeling after that very publicly back-hand and replied:
but she wasn’t finished:
Except I never said anything about a ‘scrap heap’.
Her words, certainly not mine.
Others quickly chimed in crossly, citing Ronald Reagan who was President from age 69 until he was almost 78 and republican candidate John McCain who was 72 when he ran against Obama in 2008.
They brandished these examples triumphantly as evidence that 69 isn’t too old to run for POTUS except I don’t think either man sells the idea of older political leaders very well. Reagan was plagued by health problems during his Presidency including recurring skin cancers, hearing and prostate problems.
There was also wide speculation that the Alzheimer’s with which he was formally diagnosed after he left office had begun while he was still at The White House. Some journalists later admitted they were conflicted about whether to report some worrying behaviour they witnessed towards the end of Reagan’s presidency that suggested dementia.