Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Do you hate the Clintons?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Over at TNR's The Plank, historian David Greenberg recently wrote that "the newfound Clinton-hatred is most assuredly not a product of the former president's purported negative campaigning against Obama. Quite the contrary, the idea that he has campaigned with particular negativity against Obama is itself the product, in part, of the Clinton-hatred coursing anew through the Washington establishment."

In other words, much of the opposition to Hillary from Obama supporters (Republicans, who admittedly hate all things Clinton, aren't at issue here) stems from deep-rooted hatred of the Clintons, not from how Hillary and her campaign have conducted themselves over the course of the current race for the Democratic nomination.

Which is just plain wrong.

Now, I'm not part of the Washington establishment, nor are most bloggers, but I do think there is a good deal of Clinton "hatred" out there, especially in the mainstream media establishment. Take Maureen Dowd, for example, or the way the Clintons are treated by the likes of Chris Matthews and Tim Russert. Even here, though, I'm not so sure "hatred" is the right word for it. In the case of someone like Matthews, misogyny seems to be at the root of his opposition to all things Hillary.

But what about the rest of us? Are we Clinton-haters? Have we lined up behind Obama because we just can't stand the Clintons? And is our criticism of how Hillary and her campaign have conducted themselves merely a reflection of our own deep-rooted hatred? Is there no more to it than that?

In response to Greenberg, Chris Orr sums up nicely the progression that many of us Obama supporters have gone through over the course of the campaign:

As recently as December, I was agnostic about the Democratic primary. I had leaned Obama earlier in the year, but had been disappointed by his (apparent) failure to generate any kind of meaningful momentum throughout the fall. I was entirely happy with what then seemed the extreme likelihood that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. Over time that feeling has changed, and while I will still vote for Clinton in November if she is the nominee, I very much hope she is not. In part, this is because I have been impressed by Obama's performance, but equally it is because I have been depressed by Clinton's -- the idiotic and self-serving spin ceaselessly emanating from her campaign, the destructive post-facto lobbying to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates, and on and on. (Yes, Bill's South Carolina comments would show up on a comprehensive list of what disappointed me with his wife's candidacy, though it wouldn't be near the top.)

As recently as December, I made the case that Edwards was the best option for the Democrats. I had had my doubts about Obama -- too young, untested, too much hollow rhetoric (I thought at the time) -- and, besides, I had been a featured blogger at Edwards's One America Committee. It's not that I didn't like Hillary and Obama, it's just that I liked Edwards a lot more.

Otherwise, though, my experience mirrors Chris's. I thought a Hillary win was pretty much a foregone conclusion -- then again, I also thought a Romney win was the same on the other side -- and, for the most part, I was behind her. I even suggested a Clinton-Feingold ticket (and a Romney-Huckabee ticket on the other side, before it came out that the latter doesn't much care for the former). And I could point back to posts I'd written defending her -- with conviction -- against her opponents and their vicious smears (see, for example, here and here). Looking back through my old posts, I even said this about her last July: "I suppose I would describe myself as ambivalent about Hillary. If she wins the Democratic nomination, I will, of course, support her. But I'm not sure just how much I support her now. Certainly I wouldn't describe my support as "intense". At most, I admire and respect her."

But, well, things changed -- quickly -- and, after defending her after Iowa (and over the crying incident in New Hampshire), I endorsed Obama on Super Tuesday. And, since then, as many of you know, I have been critical, often relentlessly, of her and her campaign.

No, it's not Clinton-hatred, nothing of the sort. It's recognition of Obama's extraordinary qualities combined with disgust at how Hillary and her campaign have conducted themselves, especially since South Carolina.

I would still support her for president, of course, but, like many of her critics and opponents who have come to support Obama these past several months, it would take some time to get past my current repulsion.

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  • The Democratic Party knows how to do nothing but lose in Novembers every 4 years without a Clinton on the ticket. The only way we save ourselves from defeat is at the minimum, have Hillary on the bottom of the ticket. And if you or any of the other O'bloggers don't push for him to put her on his ticket, you will be the ones who destroyed the party's chances come November. Not what Hillary supposedly did in Jan through May. Or what Bill may have meant when he said something.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:19 PM  

  • That's just sad. That bus to the White house won't have any traction soon if any more people get thrown under it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:36 PM  

  • Yes. It will be great to scrape the Lying Clintons off our shoes in a few weeks!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:15 AM  

  • And that whole "scrape the lying Clintons off the bottom of our shoes" remark just diminishes the argument for whoever you support, and lowers the bar for discourse. Grow up.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:33 PM  

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