So Karl Rove has cast doubt on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s health. He may have been off when he claimed that the presumed 2016 Democratic presidential candidate spent 30 days in the hospital — she was only kept in for three — but he has clearly drawn political blood.

The Clintons went into full defense mode. Though every presidential candidate in modern times has provided a full account of their health, and if Hillary Clinton decides to run, she too will have to hand over her full medical file — including an explanation of the blood clot between her skull and her brain caused by a fall, a full account of why she fell, what treatment she received, how well she recovered and whether there are any lasting effects. It’s par for the course.

The Clintons being Clintons, however, are keeping mum about the substance of Rove’s accusation. As if it were somehow bad manners to raise health as an issue. Health is, should and will be an issue, just as the health of whoever emerges as the champion from the GOP presidential primaries will be pounced on, prodded and pored over.

Republican political consultant Rove speaks with the National Journal's Brownstein during the fifth annual Washington Ideas Forum at the Newseum in WashingtonClinton’s age will also be an issue in the 2016 election, just as it was for Ronald Reagan — who was 69 years old when elected, compared to her 68, if she runs — and for Senator Bob Dole — who was 73 years old when he made his last White House bid in 1996.

Clinton’s strength in her party is such that until she makes up her mind whether she will run, no other Democrat can raise a cent to explore a campaign of their own. That is why, a full two and a half years away from November 2016, we are in the midst of a phony election.