Every election cycle poses questions for students of politics to reflect on. One of the 2008 questions raised by Hillary Clinton’s campaign will be whether a repellant human being can be elected president. Or, for those who take a more jaundiced view of American political history, whether a repellant human being, who can’t or won’t conceal that fact, can become president.
David Corn observes, “Candidates are always responsible for their campaigns, and they can be judged accordingly. If the Clinton campaign throws anything it can against Obama – with little regard for accuracy or decency – that will reflect her own character and values.” He reports that the Clinton campaign’s “Defcon 1 assault on Obama” is fueled by hatred. The Clintonistas “can’t stand” Obama. “They talk about him as if he’s worse than Bush.”
What accounts for this hatred, this determination not just to defeat but destroy? “It’s his presumptuousness,” Corn’s source relates. “That he thinks he can deny her the nomination. Who is he to try to do that?”
Haven’t we seen this before – the boundless sense of entitlement, the fury at those who would presume to deny the self-anointed candidate her destiny? Despite all the talk about how Hillary had grown in the aftermath of the health care debacle, the stories about how she had learned to play nice with others in the Senate, the same attractive attitudes and habits that endeared her to the nation 15 years ago are once again on display.
Carl Bernstein’s book, A Woman in Charge, reports that in 1993 the First Lady beguilingly told a group of Democratic senators, who expressed doubts about the political feasibility of passing ambitious health care reforms, that the Clinton administration would “demonize” those who stood in the way of her plan. It was the last straw for Sen. Bill Bradley. “You don’t tell members of the Senate you are going to demonize them. It was obviously so basic to who she is. The arrogance. The assumption that people with questions are enemies. The disdain. The hypocrisy.”
When her task force of 500 members and 34 committees sent the Democratic Congress a bill that was 1,324 pages long, it sank like an anvil. Smaller, simpler measures might have passed, but the First Lady refused to support any plan but her own. Bob Boorstin, a media relations deputy with the task force, told Bernstein that Hillary is “among the most self-righteous people I’ve ever met in my life.”
Her many years in the public eye have given New York’s junior senator ample opportunity to grow in office. She has apparently used them to grow even more self-righteous, more arrogant, more vengeful against those who have the temerity to oppose her. One bumper sticker sums up the situation: “Women Against Hillary: We’ve Waited Too Long To Get It Wrong.”