Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Conservatives Must've Loved This One

Didja hear the one about Chelsea Clinton and Janet Reno? No? Well I'll let John McCain tell it like he did at a Republican dinner back in 1998

Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?
Because her father is Janet Reno.

Now John, that's just mean! and though Chelsea isn't gorgeous she is really beautiful and smart and self asurred which kind of gives off its own scent of elegance.
I'm guess that joke won over the conservatives in the audience because we all know that laughing at the children of public figures is fun fun fun. Like saying that Meghan Mccain in this picture looks like a chubby 45 year old whore with that make-up

But I guess all of these is just another manifestation of the Clinton hatred that seems to be expressed most virulently against Hillary as Stanley Fish of the Times wrote about in his most recent piece

The responses to my column on Hillary Clinton-hating have been both voluminous (the largest number in the brief history of “Think Again”) and fascinating. The majority of posters agreed with the characterization of the attacks on Senator Clinton as vicious and irrational, but in not a few posts the repudiation of Hillary-hatred is followed by more of the same. Lisa (No. 17) nicely exemplifies the pattern. She begins by saying “I agree that there is a rabid nature in the manner in which numerous conservative groups attack Hillary Clinton,”, but in the very next sentence she declares that “most of Hillary’s reputation is well earned” and then she spends nine paragraphs being rabid. A significant minority of posters skipped the ritual disavowal of hatred and went straight to the task of adding to it.

These Clintonphobes said things like “there’s nothing to like about her”(394) and wrote at length about her clothing, her voice, her laugh, her arrogance, her “countless plastic surgeries” (an inference it would seem from the fact that at 60 she still looks good), her insincerity, her stridency, her ambition, her love of power, and her husband. In their view, the hatred they expressed was not irrational at all, but was provoked by a record of crimes and character flaws they are happy to rehearse. Their mirror image on the left objected to my saying that President Bush fills the same role for liberals that Clinton fills for her detractors. No, no came the protest. However free-floating hatred of Clinton may be, hatred of Bush is firmly grounded in the record of a disastrous presidency that has left us at war, in debt, and in bad odor throughout the world. The two groups differed only in the bad qualities they attributed to their nemesis. Bush haters derided him as stupid. Clinton haters complained that she is too smart (the word “brilliant” is used as a pejorative), seems to know it all, and makes those who hear her speak feel they are less intelligent than she is.

Comments like these would seem to lend support to the view (voiced by many respondents) that sexism is what ultimately motivates the Clinton bashers. “A woman who doesn’t apologize for who she is. What’s not to hate?” (79). “Any woman who is anything more than a wallflower will always be attacked” (105). “People just can’t tolerate a woman in power” (111). “Why not get right to heart of the matter? It’s sexism. Most women on this planet face it every day” (168). If so, they face it from women as well as from men, at least on the evidence provided here. Carol Maloney (158) reports that many of her intelligent women friends are unable “to discuss Hillary in a logical manner.” Kat (23) wonders why “women seem to be on the Hillary hatred bandwagon.” Carol (359) says “What I find most disturbing is the amount of hatred spewed at Hillary by those who are so much like her … It is very odd. Is it really self-hate?”

One might ask, can it really be sexism if it is women who are practicing it? Sure it can. If sexism is defined as the conviction that women are unsuited by gender to perform certain tasks or hold certain positions, that conviction is as available to women as it is to men. Still, sexism doesn’t seem an adequate explanation of the Hillary-hating phenomenon if only because so much of the venom in the comments is directed at the Clintons as a team. The idea is that nothing but evil can emanate from them; they are a moral blot on the nation’s escutcheon, a canker-sore on the body politic, and they must be removed (perhaps by any means necessary). No doubt sexism is a component of such sentiments–a number of women respondents accused her of riding on her husband’s coat-tails and lambasted her for not leaving him–but sexism doesn’t really account for an anger that sometimes borders on the homicidal.

Perhaps, as I suggested in the original column, nothing accounts for it; it’s just an ineradicable and ever-mutating virus. The important thing, then, would be not to explain it, but to acknowledge it and move on from there. That is exactly the conclusion reached by a huge number of posters who then add it to it a pro-Obama twist. It goes like this: Yes, Hillary-hatred is irrational and unfair. But it’s a fact and it’s not going away. Indeed it will only intensify in the general election. Therefore we cannot nominate her, for she would surely lose. Alberta (118) confesses, “I am probably not going to vote for her simply because of these irrational and pervasive feelings of many Americans. It may not be the best reason to give Obama my vote.” Brendan (144) warns that “to nominate Clinton in the face of this clear hatred … would simply arm the G.O.P. machine with a powerful tool to motivate its base.” Barney Scott (153) predicts that “if she were to run against the Republican nominee it would unleash the snarling dogs of unlimited hate, half-truths, and just plain venom.” Jorita Madison (75) sums it up: “The fact that Hillary Clinton is hated is true and real. Therefore if the Democrats want to recapture the Whitehouse, they better think long and hard about electability in their choice of a candidate.”

Electability (a concept invoked often) is a code word that masks the fact that the result of such reasoning is to cede the political power to the ranters. Carolyn Kay (456) makes the point when she observes that if you vote against Clinton because you fear the virulence of her most vocal enemies, “you have allowed the right-wing hatemongers to decide who our candidate will be.” Underlying this surrender of the franchise to those least qualified to exercise it is the complaint (rarely overtly stated) that the Clintons have had the bad taste to undergo the assassination of their characters in public and have thereby made us its unwilling spectators. This is of course the old ploy of blaming the victim, and Ava Mae Lewis (16) is at least explicit about it. After deploring the “wild accusations” and “rabid hate”, she declares herself “disappointed that the Clintons force us to make this final and public rejection.”

In other words, by being the targets of unwarranted attacks — that is their crime, being innocent–the Clintons are putting us in the uncomfortable position of voting against them for reasons we would rather not own up to. How dare they? Given the fierceness of the opposition to her candidacy, why doesn’t Hillary do the decent thing and withdraw? “What bothers me about Hillary is that she must know this, yet she apparently thinks so much of herself, or wants to be president so badly, that she’s willing to risk compromising the Democrats’ chances of winning in November to stay in the race” (Matthew, 440). How inconsiderate of her both to want to be president and to persist in her quest in the face of calumny.

In a piece of serendipity whose source I cannot fathom, when I was reading these comments with one eye, I was watching an old B western with the other. In “At Gunpoint” (1955) the hero, played by Fred MacMurray, is brought before the town council and told that he must pack up and move. Why? Because a bunch of thugs is coming to town to kill him, and if he isn’t there, the town will be spared. The MacMurray character refuses to run and says to his “friends,” wait a minute, it is they who are coming after me, and you’re saying that I’m the one who should get out? In the end, the townspeople come to his aid, but this is a movie, and in the real life of the present political scene it doesn’t appear that the lady in distress is going to be rescued by those who profess to respect her.

The beneficiary of this she’s-a-victim-so-we-must-expel-her logic is Barack Obama, and some respondents suspected him of fostering the divisiveness he rails against. “When Obama calls Hillary divisive he, of course, is pandering to these crazies Stanley Fish is describing” (dehud, 128). “Barack Obama is working hard to provide fuel to the Hillary haters” (Meryl B, 339). Actually, Obama doesn’t have to work hard at all. The media, as many who wrote in pointed out, are doing it for him. A number of commentators perceived an anti-Hillary bias at work in the op-ed pages of our major newspapers (including this one) and in the remarks made by radio and TV personalities. MSNBC was singled out as a network that has become an extension of the Obama campaign. Chris Matthews, a liberal warhorse, is obviously in love with him. But so is the entire editorial page of the New York Post. On Thursday, Dick Morris, Eileen McGann, and Kirsten Powers wrote mash notes to Obama in the disguise of columns, and the lead editorial warned Democrats not to miss out on the “excitement and promise” Obama brings. Today (Sunday) Peggy Noonan worried that the Democrats might fail to “recognize what they have in this guy.” With unpaid employees on both sides of the media aisle, Obama doesn’t have to do anything but be his usual inspirational self. Unencumbered by the record of achievements and missteps that comes along with political longevity, he can present a clean slate to the electorate. Nothing hazarded equals nothing to be criticized for.

Of course Obama has every right to take advantage of the enmity his opponent has garnered over the years. It is the politically savvy thing to do, just as it is politically savvy for him to insist that the superdelegates follow the voters in their districts, given that a majority of them is known to favor Senator Clinton. But political savvy is perhaps not what Obama wants to claim. His boast–problematic down the road–is that he is not a politician at all.

Hillary Clinton is undoubtedly a politician, and experience — good and bad — is the trump card of her campaign rhetoric. It is a card some posters want to take away from her. OM (421) erases two years from her tenure. “You have had elected office for six years.” Syzito (134) observes that “Hillary has NEVER been elected to anything except as Senator from new York.” (Why being a two term senator from a major state is a small, inconsequential thing is not explained.) It is comments like these that lead Marsha (450) to say, “Many of the posters confirm your conclusions.”

Perhaps so, but these same posters vigorously deny that it is Clinton-hatred that moves them. They are pleading, with JF (566), “Please don’t lump us with the haters.” But if I may take some liberty with the words of an old song: You made me lump you; I didn’t wanna do it.

I guess it's all right though because as the Electric God Our Leader Barack pointed out "You're likeable enough Hillary"

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