Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

What’s Behind the Hatred of Hillary Clinton?

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on May 26, 2008

It seems everyone is in uproar over Hillary Clinton’s remarks about her staying in the race for the Democratic nomination to run for president through the month of June, and her ill-chosen example of Bobby Kennedy—the senator and brother of John F. Kennedy who, like his presidential sibling, was assassinated. The remarks were, of course, in the poorest of taste and they have received all the scorn they deserve. But are the commotion raised by those remarks, the sheer outrage and disgust, for the right reason?

Clinton could just as easily been talking about herself, and the potential threat of assassination to her own person, as about her rival for the nomination, Barack Obama. That few, if any, seem to realize this is yet another attack on her for all the wrong reasons. Yes, it was insensitive and divisive, hurtful and potentially dangerous, for Clinton to invoke the trauma of Bobby Kennedy’s murder in 1968 in making the case that she must remain in contention for the nomination to run for president.

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Hillary Clinton’s poor judgment is grounds for pushing her out. Consider her recent threat to obliterate Iran. No, the threat was not a direct one, being as it was merely a loaded response to an equally loaded question put to her by an interviewer. But that Clinton would even take the bait—knowing full well that the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran stated flat out that Tehran is not pursuing nuclear weapons; that it abandoned any attempts to do so as long as five years ago; that its nuclear ambitions really do seem geared more toward energy production (at least for the time being); and that even if it were making weapons it would still be nearly a decade before even one successful bomb would be made—shows her willingness to be manipulated into saying and doing potentially very destructive things by the far right.

And who can forget her teary-eyed display of selfish egomania right before the New Hampshire primary, wherein she said, so very condescendingly, that Americans are too stupid to realize how much they need her to be president—right before segueing into an attack on her chief rival’s readiness that was worthy of Karl Rove himself? These examples paint a clear portrait of someone so bent on pursuing a crown, so egotistical, that her stability (indeed, her very integrity) as a leader must be called into question. For these reasons, more than anything else and for the sake of honor, Mrs. Clinton should drop out now.

But the reasons for pressuring her to abandon her pursuit of the presidency go far beyond her moral vacuum, her willingness to say and do anything in order to be crowned president. And they have nothing to do with delegate math; Mrs. Clinton is in a far better position to win the nomination at convention than any of her underdog predecessors of the past thirty years. No one in the media pressured Ted Kennedy, Gary Hart, or Jesse Jackson to drop out of presidential races before convention—at least, not on the level pundits who have called for Clinton’s departure have done. Nor do the reasons have to do with the false allegations of racism that have plagued both Hillary and her husband, Bill, since the campaign began heating up. Indeed, if any of the presidential candidates from either political party have exploited race in a negative fashion, it is Barack Obama with his insistence on distancing himself from any and all hints of Black resentment at how this subsection of our society has been treated through America’s history.

The reasons for calling for an end to the Clinton campaign stem, I think, from an irrational hatred of the woman that runs far deeper than it has any right to. Had a man said half the things she has said, he might be allowed to slide—especially if that “man” happens to be a Republican, such as John McCain (the presumptive nominee of his party this year). What is behind this hatred? I can only guess; certainly, Americans are justifiably wary at the prospect of going twenty or more years with either a Bush or a Clinton occupying the White House. But we’ve had political dynasties before, to one degree or another, with nary a peep from the press or the public.

Could it be, in the end, the prospect of having a woman in power who truly, unlike any “First Lady” since Eleanor Roosevelt, dared to be more than presidential arm candy? There appears to be some justification for this theory; the intense opposition to her attempt to reform the health care system during her husband’s presidency sparked chauvinistic indignation that a woman would involve herself in presidential-level policy-making. But, again, this doesn’t really hold up, for after the public and very final defeat of Hillary’s effort to change the health insurance system, she sold out to the industry and became little more than the caricature of a “First Lady” her opponents wanted her to be. Her public involvement in Bill’s policy-making seemed to go away. She was, or so many believed, properly chastened for being uppity enough to think she could be more than a pretty face.

This hatred of Hillary Clinton is much more personal, and I don’t know why. Nor, I suspect, do those who have so relentlessly attacked her.

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