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The ridiculous conspiracy theory going around about Hillary Clinton and her family.

Hillary Clinton: probably putting up with some Internet rumours at the time this photo was taken.

Being Hillary Clinton would be kind of tough.

There’s a bit of stress that comes with being the former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States. Some of that stress is legitimate, and is due to the daily pressures of acting in high-powered and influential positions.

Some of that stress is illegitimate, and is due – in part – to the way the world has a tendency to treat female politicians and women in positions on power. Like the New York Times deriding Hillary’s “cackle”-style laugh, the Washington Post publishing an analysis of her cleavage, and magazines depicting Clinton as a high-heeled giant out to step on the poor, defenceless menfolk.

And some of that stress probably comes from bizarre conspiracy theories and endless speculation about the personal details of Hillary Clinton’s life.

The latest example of this, is a conspiracy theory doing the rounds that says Chelsea Clinton – Hillary’s daughter – is not pregnant. She’s just faking a pregnancy to make Hillary look good in the eyes of the voting public, in time for the 2016 US presidential election (which many speculate Clinton will run for).

Chelsea Clinton – 34-year-old daughter of Bill and Hillary – and her husband investment banker Marc Mezvinsky announced a fortnight ago that they were expecting their first child this year.

Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky.

Hillary Clinton, 66, has previously joked in interviews (or joked but secretly been completely serious) that she can’t wait for her first grandchild.

Even those who do believe that Chelsea Clinton is actually pregnant, don’t believe that Hillary didn’t have a hand in the whole thing. Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg certainly didn’t start the rumours, but he did provide a voice for the Internet Crazies when he said: “When I say [the pregnancy is] staged I have to believe she’s pregnant, if she says she’s pregnant… But what great timing! God answered Hillary Clinton’s prayers and she’s going to have the prop of being a new grandma while she runs for president.”

Hadley Freeman wrote in The Guardian:

Others echoed Malzberg’s sentiment, with much talk of Hillary Clinton deliberately “softening her image” and “adding compassion” to her persona via the medium of her unborn grandchild. People who actually seem to believe this span the political spectrum, ranging from conservative writer Michael Goldfarb, who tweeted: “Just in time for HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] to have a baby on stage with her when she announces she’s running, right?”, to New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, who said on MSNBC: “Can we talk about the human drama that is Grandma Clinton? I’m not suggesting that anyone’s having a baby for election purposes, but …”

In essence, Hillary Clinton’s decision for her daughter to have a baby (because that’s what these people are implying – that Clinton has decided for her daughter when she should become a mother) and/or the fake pregnancy — is a calculated machination designed to make man-eater Hillary appear more motherly. Or, to be precise, grandmotherly.

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Of course, the other discussion that has arisen since the announcement that Clinton would be a grandmother, is whether or not she’s too old to be President.

John McCain was 72 when he ran against Obama in 2008.

Clinton will be 69 in 2016 – which doesn’t make her the oldest Presidential candidate of all time, by any means. Ronald Reagan was President from the age of 69 until he was almost 78; and republican candidate John McCain was 72 when he ran against Obama in 2008. However, both men struggled with health problems. Arguably, age is a legitimate concern when it comes to deciding who you want running an entire country.

But in Clinton’s case, her opponents aren’t just saying she’s ‘too old’. They’re saying she’s a ‘grandmother’ – in snide tones – as if that were a derogatory term that proves how unfit she would be to govern.

As ever, a woman’s reproductive capacity (or even the reproductive capacity of a daughter that came from her own reproductive capacity) is of paramount importance.

As US interviewer Charlie Rose put it: “President or grandmother?” Apparently, the two qualities are mutually-exclusive. (Being a grandfather doesn’t seem to be an issue. Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s nominee for President in the 2012 election, has 23 grandchildren. TWENTY THREE.)

Angela Mollard recently wrote an article for News Ltd, where she discusses what we can learn from older generations than ourselves.

In Mollard’s opinion, it’s a lot.

As I write, we’ve just debated whether Hillary Clinton will be too old to stand for the Presidency in 2016.

“She’ll be the age I am now,” says Mum. “And you get tired.” This from a woman who earlier played hand ball with my daughters, enjoyed a wilderness walk, cooked dinner and a chocolate slice, hung and folded two loads of washing and picked the last raspberries from her garden.

I disagree. Clinton’s at the top of her game. Look at Malcolm Fraser, I tell her. At 83, he’s a cogent voice in the asylum seeker debate. Richie Benaud, also 83, notwithstanding his car accident is still the most recognised voice of cricket. Likewise, it’s an 83-year-old who remains the world’s greatest media magnate.

We still don’t know if Clinton will run for President. Maybe her age, or the stage of her life she’s at, or the fact that she’s become a grandmother will shift her priorities. Then again, maybe it won’t make one iota of difference to her (possible) plans to become the PotUS.

In either case, political commentators and the media machine cannot predict the outcome. And given that there is nothing to be gained from their commentary, the discussion smacks of ageism with a pinch of sexism. And maybe some grandma-ism, too.

Do you think Hillary Clinton is too old to run for President? Do you think the discussion of ‘Grandma Hillary’ intentionally softening her image is offensive, or realistic?