Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 5, 2003
POLITICS: Hating The Clintons
Speaking of Hillary, one of the common lines from Bill's defenders (like Sid Blumenthal) is that hatred of Bill Clinton was all about his "progressive" politics; meanwhile, Hillary's defenders often argue that people who hate Hillary "have a problem with strong women" or some such. Talk to a lot of dyed-in-the-wool Clinton-haters (I've mislaid my card, but it's around here somewhere), and you'll quickly realize that the psychoanalysts on the Left have it precisely backward. The people who hate Bill hate him, first and foremost, for his character; talk to them about another "New Democrat" like John Edwards or Joe Lieberman, and you won't hit anywhere near the same vein of animosity that accompanied Bill from the very beginning. The problem with Bill is a problem we all have with that one guy we know who can get away with damn near everything, and with the way in which he symbolized all the worst aspects of a generation that was, as it so happened, second to none in its generational self-image.
As for Hillary, there are certainly plenty of people -- even liberals -- who hate her for her personality, but few of them focus on her as an abstract generalization. The real core of Hillary-hating relates to her politics more than her character; people didn't hate her for trying to be Lee Hart to Bill's Gary; they hated her from the outset out of fear that she was disguising her perceived role as the voice of the Left in Bill's ear.
I overgeneralize, of course; my own least favorite fact about Hillary is her tendency, and that of her defenders, to recast every criticism of this emeninently criticizable public figure as being an Attack On All Women -- she's effectively tried to hijack the sympathies of an entire gender, which is one reason why the depth of Hillary-hatred among men is childs' play compared to the way some women (not all of them conservatives) hate her. But the generalization, I submit, is true: people first came to hate Bill mostly for his character, and Hillary mostly for her politics.