October 31, 2007
Hillary Hate, Barack Love
To add onto Matt's comments on Hillary hatred, I was at a political dinner last night and ended up chatting with an older woman who's very big in Republican circles, was high-up in the Bush 2000 campaign, etc. She's furious at the GOP for abandoning everything she ever believed in and making a mockery of her life's work. The only way she'd vote for a Republican, she said, is if the Democrats nominate Hillary. "Anything to keep that woman out!" Somewhat predictably, she was supporting Obama.
This is, I gather, the Andrew Sullivan approach, too. But I don't really get it. I realize I'm a bit overly wonkish, and not everything can be boiled to policy proposals, but Hillary and Obama aren't that far apart in ideology. Their likely administrations probably wouldn't be that different. If you're a serious dove on foreign policy, I can see a stronger preference of Obama. If you're interested in a transformative presidency that inaugurates a new progressive era, I can also see placing that bet on Obama. If you're really worried about executive competence, I can imagine going with Clinton. But it's really not clear to me what is drawing disaffected, elite Republicans to Barack. His rhetoric is, I guess, pretty non-threatening, but so was Bill Clinton's when he was breaking the Democratic Party of its 80s orthodoxies, and these very same people went to war against him.
October 31, 2007 | Permalink
> She's furious at the GOP for abandoning
> everything she ever believed in and making
> a mockery of her life's work. The only way
> she'd vote for a Republican, she said, is if the
> Democrats nominate Hillary. "Anything to keep that
> woman out!" Somewhat predictably, she was supporting
What's even stranger about this is that Hillary said last week that she wants to return the nation to the politics of her youth. Hillary was a /country club Republican/ in her youth (until her sophomore year of college). She is promising to be a /country club Republican President/ which one would think would be exactly what traditional Republicans would want.
So what exact _do_ those who still call themselves "traditional Republicans" want?
Posted by: Cranky Observer | Oct 31, 2007 10:38:05 AM
What's drawing disaffected, elite Republicans to Barack Obama is the fact that he's not John Edwards or Hillary Clinton, who by nature of the Clinton presidency and the Kerry '04 campaign are solidified in their minds as TEH EVALS! Clinton is already the hateful, power-hungry bitch (also, a murderer. Really.) and Edwards is the effeminate gay-boy trial lawyer.
The reality, of course, is that this is all just for them to SAY Obama is the candidate the support. They're all just going to suck it up and vote for the GOP nominee anyway, whoever it is.
Posted by: August J. Pollak | Oct 31, 2007 10:39:54 AM
Yeah, that woman would vote for a Democrat just after the Family Research Council endorses the Constitutional Party candidate.
Posted by: verplanck colvin | Oct 31, 2007 10:43:49 AM
From your description, she shounds too old to believe about a candidate is the set of policies announced during the primary season. She might, instead, believe the Republican critique that says that the Clintons are corrupt. In that case, she might not want to let their cronies get more well-rooted in government. Or she might think that while announced policy proposals tell you little, age cohort does, and Obama's cohort (she believes) is more moderate than HRC's. Who knows? But there are relatively reasonable explanations out there.
Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Oct 31, 2007 10:47:54 AM
I'm not overly fond of either Hillary or Obama at the moment, what with the relentless pandering to red necks, hawks and homobigots and the tired old triangulation approach to bloody well everything from Iraq to that damn lapel flag pin. But this is a Democracy, so it's not like I get a choice.
A solid strategy would be for the DEMs to put Hillary up front for the primaries so she can draw fire, then nominate someone like Edwards (or dare to dream, Kucinich) which would throw the GOP attack dogs off as they'd have to switch gears during the main campaign.
But yeah, I feel for the Republicans. They've been betrayed by eight years of Bush and the normal solution would be a one-time protest conversion vote for the Dem candidate but that will likely be the hated Hillary. Sucks to be them.
Posted by: Keith | Oct 31, 2007 10:48:47 AM
"If you're interested in a transformative presidency that inaugurates a new progressive era, I can also see placing that bet on Obama."
Not really. Obama just p***ed of the gay community, and at the same time managed to get the good guys at Open Left on the barricades because of his idiotic ad making social security look bad. And if you look at his past, his university times, his work as president of Harvard (?) Review, you see a pure centrist, someone who wants to be liked by everyone, but is very hesitating in adopting decisive positions. This really isn't what progressives want to have as a President!
Posted by: Gray | Oct 31, 2007 10:49:38 AM
If you're really worried about executive competence, I can imagine going with Clinton.
Why? What evidence is there that Clinton is such a good executive? OTOH, we know that Obama, as a "community organizer", at least knows how to, um, organize people ... which is a good start.
I actually think that executive competence should be a critical aspect of choosing a President. We've become too focused on the President as an electing King/Queen. The President is just some shlub whom we, the voters, hire to run our government on our behalf. We should treat a Pres. campaign like any job interview: i.e. we want to hire the best person for the job.
This is not to say that we should only consider the ability of the President to be an efficient executive. Otherwise, I'd be a Romney supporter. The President's job responsibilities include more than being an executive -- they include setting an agenda for the ship of state, and I want a President who'll set a good agenda (Romney won't).
But still, executive ability is important. But how is it that we "know" Clinton wins on this matter?
Posted by: DAS | Oct 31, 2007 10:50:30 AM
Actually, Bill Clinton's rhetoric circa 1992 was quite populist, much more so than that of Obama, who goes out of his way to assure people that he won't rock the capitalist boat. Hence his support for the Peru free trade deal. There's a reason that Wall Street and K-Street fell very comfy with Obama. I've heard Obama call himself a conservative, and that's the image he projects, conservative, as in cautious. That's one of his problems: his rhetoric promises transformative change, yet everything else about him--his policy proposals, his vibe--suggest caution. Plus there are Republicans elite who, like Democratic elites, lap up Obama's post-partisan rhetoric.
Posted by: david mizner | Oct 31, 2007 10:52:37 AM
For that woman to vote for Clinton would be to repudiate everything she believed since 1992-- that the Clintons were evil, that they needed to be opposed at every turn, and that George W Bush was going to be the white knight to roll back the clock on the depredations of the Clinton era. She's not going to admit that the obsessions that consumed her for the past 15 years have been completely wrong-headed. Thus, she won't even consider a vote for Clinton. Enough members of the 60% of the country that still likes Bill will probably turn out for Hillary to give her a victory, though, should she be nominated.
Posted by: Tyro | Oct 31, 2007 10:55:31 AM
Dunno... I'm not one who really places much value on Republicans' claims that they could vote for a Dem this time, because loathing of liberals is so ingrained in most that they just can't do it in the voting booth IME. And I certainly don't think that even those Repubs who will cross party lines next year will stay on our side; they'd just be sending a message to their own party and will go back once we can be the enemy again. But there are plenty of reasons to not want Hillary as president, and they may not be that different for both disaffected Republicans and progressive Democrats-- a distaste for machine politics, suspicion of nineties nostalgia, the 'dynasty' question, a real desire for leadership & a substantive change in direction, and so on. As I've said before, the only thing I'd like back from the nineties is a size-four body; the prospect of facing an all-out holy war for as little policy reward as I'd expect from HRC makes me ill.
Having said that, my position is that Clinton's the least-bad Dem for the GOP overall, because she's not really going to rock the boat by attacking their philosophy or political operations outright, she probably won't do much policy-wise that they can't destroy in the future, and hatred of her will bring their apostates (like the lady you mentioned) back into the fold.
Posted by: latts | Oct 31, 2007 10:58:56 AM
Imho Harry Jaffe at Salon has at least part of the answer (via Atrios):
"According to society sources, Sally invited Hillary to a luncheon when the Clintons came to town in 1993. Sally stocked her guest list with her best buddies and prepared to usher the first lady into the capital's social whirl. Apparently, Hillary didn't accept. Miffed, Sally wrote a catty piece in the Post about Mrs. Clinton. Hillary made sure that Quinn rarely made it into the White House dinners or social events.
In return, Sally started talking trash about Hillary to her buddies, and her animus became a staple of the social scene. "There's just something about her that pisses people off," Quinn is quoted as saying in a New Yorker article about Hillary."
So, Hillary alienated Washington Society (an elitist circle that is strongly conservative, since the times of Tricky Dick). And of course, this is something that those clowns can never forget nor forgive.
Posted by: Gray | Oct 31, 2007 11:11:29 AM
I think that the fact that many Americans hate Hillary is a good reason to not nominate her. Many Americans hated Bill Clinton and it was a liability. Many Americans hated GW Bush and it is a liability. Guys like Obama and McCain with low negatives make more sense as nominees to me but Hillary’s name recognition should carry her though just as with GW Bush. The American voters are not very deep.
Posted by: Floccina | Oct 31, 2007 11:18:27 AM
I think you had it when you conceded that not everything can be boiled to policy proposals. You're right: Hillary and Obama aren't so far apart on ideology. For good or bad, though, elections are about more than policies and ideology. To try to explain voting based only on those two (admittedly far-reaching) factors is to ignore the emotional component - to steal the cliche - the question of with whom voters would rather have a beer. Your dinner companion knows policy. She seems to have some grasp of the candidates' respective ideologies. And she has already spent more time thinking about this election than many voters will spend thinking about all the elections they will ever vote in... but even her decision is not entirely rational. (This is how a pro-choice, pro-gay, left-leaning candidate like Bob Kerrey can win in an a state like Nebraska.) Many people - especially dyed-in-the-wool Republicans - HATE the Clintons. It's not about admitting wrongheadedness. It's about how polarizing the insider-oriented, nakedly-ambitious, loyalty-over-almost-all-else Clintons have been, and why some Democrats are deeply concerned with the prospect of her nomination. Depressingly, we haven't come so far from the popularity contest.
Posted by: Vermonstrous | Oct 31, 2007 11:26:28 AM
I'm not one who really places much value on Republicans' claims that they could vote for a Dem this time, because loathing of liberals is so ingrained in most that they just can't do it in the voting booth IME. - latts
That's why I don't trust those "in the generic ballot, Dems. win over GOPers" polls: the same person who says "I'll vote for a Dem" may very well find a reason to vote against any Dem who actually has a name and is not "generic".
And if the Dem. is still "generic" come Nov. 2008, well -- who's gonna go out to the polls and vote for someone generic?
Posted by: DAS | Oct 31, 2007 11:32:43 AM
They've been betrayed by eight years of Bush
No they haven't. Bush has been a conservative dream from the moment he took office and still is. There's a bunch of "no true conservative" rhetoric just because most of the country, once they saw the mask of conservative governance ripped away, decided that being governed by conservatives really sucks.
Have the Republicans in Congress actually defied Bush on anything? Did the SCHIP veto stand - why yes, yes it did. Bush's veto stood up because such a veto is entirely in line with conservative principles.
Fiscal responsibility and limited government have always been rhetorical tools to placate the simpleminded within the conservative movement. No Republican has ever really governed according to them - at least not more than one term, and GOP politicians know it.
Our task is not to bemoan how Bush fooled us into thinking that he's a conservative when he really isn't, because that just plays into the GOP's hands. No, as progressives we need to make it perfectly clear to this country that the Bush Administration is exactly what they will get every single time they elect a Republican as President. It was a Republican that first gave us federal government debt, it's always been Republicans who have massively expanded the power of the federal government to interfere in Americans' lives.
Conservative governance is nothing but unlimited war, enrichment of the upperclasses at the expense of the poor, indoctrinating children with religious beliefs disguised as "science" and the real nanny state putting a chaperon in your bedroom to make sure you're not doing anything fun in there.
Posted by: Stephen | Oct 31, 2007 11:33:34 AM
It's personality politics...the Right hates both Hillary and Bill as they view them to be unscrupulous, power mad and controlling (and they don't like the fact that the Clinton's aren't afraid to fight back). Edwards, I think, is viewed by many on the right as just another trial lawyer and failed V.P. candidate. Obama, though he might be on the cusp of losing it, has a lot of grassroots momentum and his record isn't quite long enough for some attacks to stick. He also, due to his lofty rhetoric, doesn't seem as combative as some of the other candidates, and I think that probably hurts him during the primaries, but would possibly be an asset in the general election.
Posted by: Mike P | Oct 31, 2007 11:35:52 AM
"No, as progressives we need to make it perfectly clear to this country that the Bush Administration is exactly what they will get every single time they elect a Republican as President."
Posted by: Gray | Oct 31, 2007 11:40:09 AM
Republicans, George Bush notwithstanding , aren't going to switch their party allegiance. They recognize Hillary as the tougher opponent in the general election and wish that she'd be taken down in the primaries. Democrats recognize her strengths and prefer her as their candidate (as the polls clearly show).
Posted by: Independent | Oct 31, 2007 11:40:48 AM
"This is, I gather, the Andrew Sullivan approach, too. But I don't really get it. I realize I'm a bit overly wonkish, and not everything can be boiled to policy proposals, but Hillary and Obama aren't that far apart in ideology. "
Why do you think Hillary hatred has anything to do with policy or ideology?
Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Oct 31, 2007 11:44:04 AM
Tyro has the right of it - voting for Clinton would mean swallowing down what is now running on 16 years of bile and venom to say "well, I guess that Clinton isn't THAT bad." It would mean admitting that at least some of your hatred for the woman is, in fact, irrational and that you might be (horror of horrors) WRONG about something. It's not easy to make that switch - it requires you to make a fairly brutal assessment about how you think and forces you to confront some of your own unpleasantness.
Edwards suffers this to a lesser form. Plus Edwards spouts actual left-leaning rhetoric. So he becomes unacceptable for TWO reasons (three if you count the fact that he earned his money practicing TRIAL LAW for personal injury, which is a profession second only to "dictators of countries we currently don't like" for drumming up Republican hatred).
Obama is a clean slate - like may progressives have been doing, disaffected Republicans can project whatever they think would make a "good Democratic President" onto him. What's more, his rhetoric is the accomodationist, Unity, "can't we all hold hands and sing kumbayah" crap that "moderate" Republicans like to swallow (much like "moderate" Democrats). So, unlike progressives projecting their hopes and dreams onto Obama, Republicans even get some verbal cues that maybe Obama will be "okay" if he gets in office.
Does that mean that if Obama gets the nomination those Republicans will vote for him? Maybe some of them. The rest will get swept up in the usual tribal politics of the campagin season and by Fall of '08 we'll be back to where we always have been in most Presidental elections in my lifetime - divided and with at least 40-some percent of the country bitter about whoever ended up in office. Unless GWB really HAS had a transformative presidency that has broken some of those tribal identification leanings for GOP voters (the way Carter seemed to be responsible for breaking a number of Dem tribal leanings). Frankly, I'll believe THAT when I see it.
Posted by: NonyNony | Oct 31, 2007 11:56:09 AM
"But I don't really get it. "
What you aren't getting is that despite her complaints that woman is going to vote GOP regardless of who the GOP or Democratic candidate is. Clinton hatred is just the convenient excuse she'll use if Clinton is the Democratic nominee but there would be some other excuse if it were Edwards, Obama, Gore, or anybody else.
Posted by: Ron | Oct 31, 2007 11:57:33 AM
"Why do you think Hillary hatred has anything to do with policy or ideology?"
Indeed, this isn't about ratio at all, this is pure emotion. And it isn't solely against Hillary, it's against the Clintons as Dem icons. Don't forget, Bill defeated an incumbent republican president, Reagan's VPO and heir, who had just won the Gulf war. Then Bill was a successful president, broadly seen as superior to Bush I., and he became as popular as the Great Communicator himself. And he even managed to come along with republican lawmakers, all of which must have tremendously embittered the right wing hardcore base. And nowadays, republican leaders deliberately put oil into the flames because so they can use the Clintons as a catalyst to heat up and unite their base for their causes. Really, no surprise that this hotpot of emotions resulted in real hatred against Hillary.
Posted by: Gray | Oct 31, 2007 12:01:51 PM
Ezra and Matt are really starting to buy the MSM's two horse race. They could at least acknowledge that there's a third viable candidate running.
Posted by: eriks | Oct 31, 2007 12:04:03 PM
"What you aren't getting is that despite her complaints that woman is going to vote GOP regardless of who the GOP or Democratic candidate is."
A lady I know voted 2004 for Bush, again. As her reason she said, she doesn't want that Dems raise her taxes. Well, she was totally middle class, no Dem tax proposal would really have hurt her, but that's all what was important for her. Didn't care about the war, about healthcare, nothing. Didn't even like Bush, and Kerry was quite ok for her. However, boohohoo, it's the money, stoopid...
Some voters simply are dumb. Waste of time to try to change them. Fuhgedaboutit.
Posted by: Gray | Oct 31, 2007 12:08:01 PM
"They could at least acknowledge that there's a third viable candidate running."
Uh, yeah, third candidate, sure, hmm, now what's his name, Jack, Jim, John..son, right, Ed, uh, Edward Johnson!
Now, where's my prize?
Posted by: Gray | Oct 31, 2007 12:12:11 PM
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