November 3, 2007
There are very good reasons to oppose Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and worry about the consequences if she becomes the Democratic presidential nominee. The trouble is, they keep getting drowned out by the utterly deranged reactions she inspires among wingnuts, Republicans and pundits.
This bogus controversy about whether Clinton is playing “the gender card” because she talked about breaking into the boy’s club during her speech at Wellesley is the latest example. As Digby, Matt Stoller and Ezra Klein point out, every presidential race before this has been treated as a cock-measuring contest. Christ, it was only a few weeks ago that Chris Matthews was squirming in his seat over what a hunka-hunka burning manhood that Fred Thompson was, and only a few years ago that winger pundits were making jokes about John Edwards being a little light in his shoes. The Republican primary campaign to date has been an extended John Wayne-Dirty Harry-Jack Bauer impersonation show, with candidates vying to reassure the audience that when the time came, they would not flinch from personally overseeing the waterboarding and electric shocks needed for the war on terror. The likes of Chris Matthews and Joe Klein can drink barrels of this bilge without batting an eyelash, but when Hillary Clinton threatens to upend the terms of the pseudo-debate they literally go crazy.
I got my first glimpse of the dementia Hillary Clinton inspires during her husband’s run against George I, standing in line behind a couple of clanking, button-festooned Republican women at the Borders in East Brunswick. They had been speaking in perfectly reasonable tones until their purchases were complete; then, as they were leaving, they turned to face the shoppers in the store and screeched: “REMEMBER! A VOTE FOR BILL IS A VOTE FOR HILLARY!” From the expressions on their faces, they might have been a couple of Roman matrons getting their first glimpse of Visigoths coming down the Appian Way.
In the nearly two decades since then, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly shown herself to be the kind of split-the-difference, conventional wisdom DLC-brand Democrat who would vote to give Bush a free hand in Iraq because the Big Serious Thinkers of her party and the press had determined that anyone who failed to do so would be forever barred from the White House. And yet an entire wingnut propaganda industry thrives on the notion that she is some kind of hardcore Communist ready to castrate all men and replace the Constitution with the SCUM Manifesto.
I have often thought that the worst thing Osama bin Laden did to America, and the world, was to give Bush the means to transform himself from an unambitious Jesus-whooping fraud presiding over a four-year frat party for GOP cronies into an active menace capable of inflicting lasting damage on virtually every aspect of American political life.
And for all the havoc the wingers wrought on America during the 1990s — paralyzing the government with cooked-up scandals and investigations, ginning up an impeachment jihad to undermine the president, all while real threats were looming over the horizon — one of their most lasting injuries to the body politic was to make it nearly impossible to talk about Hillary Clinton in rational terms.