Liberals Hating on Hillary: 'Loathing Seems a Lot Less Irrational'

On the east and west coasts today, two liberal columnists unleashed a torrent of vitriol at Hillary and Bill Clinton. At the Los Angeles Times, contributing editor Jonathan Chait [a past master of political hatred] asked Is the right right on the Clintons? Consider these blistering excerpts [emphasis added]:
  • Something strange happened the other day. All these different people -- friends, co-workers, relatives, people on a liberal e-mail list I read -- kept saying the same thing: They've suddenly developed a disdain for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Maybe this is just a coincidence, but I think we've reached an irrevocable turning point in liberal opinion of the Clintons.
  • Going into the campaign, most of us liked Hillary Clinton just fine, but the fact that tens of millions of Americans are seized with irrational loathing for her suggested that she might not be a good Democratic nominee. But now that loathing seems a lot less irrational.
  • they falsely claimed that Obama praised Reagan's ideas, saying he was a better president than Clinton -- something he didn't say and surely does not believe.
  • I crossed the Clinton Rubicon a couple of weeks ago when, in the course of introducing Hillary, Clinton supporter and Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson invoked Obama's youthful drug use. This was disgusting on its own terms, but worse still if you know anything about Johnson. I do -- I once wrote a long profile of him. He has a sleazy habit of appropriating the logic of civil rights for his own financial gain.
  • [C]riticism [by the Clintons] isn't the same thing as lying and sleaze-mongering.
  • Am I starting to sound like a Clinton hater? It's a scary thought.
  • It made me wonder: Were the conservatives right about Bill Clinton all along? Maybe not right to set up a perjury trap so they could impeach him, but right about the Clintons' essential nature?
  • [T]he conservatives might have had a point about the Clintons' character.
On the East Coast, it was New York Times columnist Bob Herbert's turn to unload on the Clinton couple. Excerpts:
  • The [Charleston, SC] mayor’s thoughtful, respectful, generous assessment of the field echoed the tone that had prevailed until recently in the Democratic primary campaign. That welcome tone has been lost, undermined by a deliberate injection of ugliness, and it would be very difficult to make the case that the Clintons have not been primarily to blame.
  • Bill Clinton, in his over-the-top advocacy of his wife’s candidacy, has at times sounded like a man who’s gone off his medication. And some of the Clinton surrogates have been flat-out reprehensible.
  • The Clinton camp knows what it’s doing, and its slimy maneuvers have been working.
  • [I]t’s legitimate to ask, given the destructive developments of the last few weeks, whether the Clintons are capable of being anything but divisive. The electorate seems more polarized now than it was just a few weeks ago, and the Clintons have seemed positively gleeful in that atmosphere.
  • It makes one wonder whether they have any understanding or regard for the corrosive long-term effects — on their party and the nation — of pitting people bitterly and unnecessarily against one another.
  • What kind of people are the Clintons?

Chait surmised that at the end of the day, "most of us will probably vote for her because the alternative is likely to be worse." But he also ominously asks, "what happens if she's embroiled in another scandal? Will liberals rally behind her, or will they remember the Democratic primary?"

What an amazing phenomenom. Has there every been a front-runner, a party's presumptive standard bearer, so feared and loathed by leading opinion makers in her own party as is Hillary Clinton? Whatever happened to that conventional wisdom about Democrats, in contrast with Republicans, being delighted with their field? Will Democrats actually nominate a woman about whom they have such fundamental misgivings?

Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential New York Times Los Angeles Times Bob Herbert Jonathan Chait

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