Hillary the Uniter? She Tells Paper She'll Build 'Centrist Coalition'

At the top center spot of Wednesday's front page -- above those debating Republicans -- The Washington Post spotlights its interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton. The headline is "Clinton Cites Lessons of Partisanship: Senator Says She's Best Equipped to Unite America." (Washingtonpost.com changed its header to "Clinton Cites Her Resilience.")

Since when has Hillary been either a uniter, or a centrist? Post reporters Anne Kornblut and Dan Balz offered little skepticism (and no account of her consistently liberal voting record) in their account of her remarks, summed up with this: "I intend to win in November 2008, and then I intend to build a centrist coalition in this country that is like what I remember when I was growing up."

Kornblut and Balz failed to quote any candidate's critique of her, Democrat or Republican. They failed to note that when Hillary was growing up in the 1960s, a "centrist coalition" might have been easier since the Republicans were deeply entrenched in the congressional minority, and even many Republicans were get-along, go-along liberals. Today's GOP is much stronger, and much more conservative. In the primary political adventure of her co-presidency in 1993, with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, did she "build a centrist coalition" with her 1300-page health-care plan? No, she utterly refused to compromise, and her party went down to blazing defeat in the fall elections. They failed to note her blazing attacks on a "vast right-wing conspiracy," which tended to be a bit polarizing.

Inside the Post, the headline was "Clinton Discounts Rivals' Depiction as Polarizing Figure," but again, the Post cited no rival or even its own polling that would underline her polarization problem. At least Hillary admitted that she's viciously dished it out, as well as taken it:

"I actually think that in a way, the fact that I've been through so much incoming fire all these years is an advantage," she said, adding: "It's been my observation that when you're attacked continually in American politics, you either give up or get disoriented or you either lose or leave -- or you persevere and show your resilience."

..."I really think my experience uniquely equips me to be president at this time, both having gone through it, having been on the receiving end of it and -- in campaigns that were hard-fought -- maybe on the giving end of it . . .," she said.

"The overall assessment, given all of the mistakes that I made and all of the lessons that I've learned, is that we've got to put an end to it, but you can't just hope it goes away," she said. "You can't just wake up and say, 'Let's all just hold hands and be together.' You've got to demonstrate that you're not going to be cowed or intimidated or deterred by it, and then you can reach out and bring people who are of good faith together."

This last quote seems to suggest the real Hillary: conservatives who would question her ethical misbehavior or slam her socialist policy proposal are not "people of good faith." But she's not a polarizer, she says. Reporters in general cite her "resilience" as a political plus, but don't ask -- resilient by doing what? In 1998, that "resilience" was shamelessly maintaining for seven months that Bill Clinton was utterly innocent of any dalliance with "that woman," Monica Lewinsky, and then when the DNA evidence confirmed that she was running  a campaign of lies, Hillary pretended to "gasp for breath" in disbelief.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis