Joshua Zeitz published a painfully long diatribe at Politico this weekend which laments the shoddy treatment Hillary Clinton is receiving in her post-election days by… well, pretty much everyone if you listen to Zeitz. Titled plaintively, “Why Do They Hate Her?” this is a lengthy lesson in American political history seemingly intended to engender sympathy for the 2016 Democratic nominee. To save you a bit of time I’ll say up front that the more than forty paragraphs (!) of this piece are taken up to the tune of probably 80% of its column space by historical perspectives on Richard Nixon, with a smattering of Gerald Ford, Henry Clay and Thomas Dewey mixed in for good measure.
But Joshua does, at various times, get down to the meat of the matter. (I’ll be adding some emphasis here and there as we go.)
Unlike every other near-miss candidate, Clinton remains a pariah among a large portion of the population: widely disparaged by pundits, blamed by some on the left wing of her party for Trump’s victory, despised by Republicans and many independents. Her singular fate – basically unprecedented in American history – tells us far more about the state of contemporary politics and journalism than it does about Hillary Clinton, whom history may very well judge with greater retrospection and consideration than her contemporaries.
A “pariah” you say? I wouldn’t think a pariah would get so much face time on cable news. I don’t think I’ve gone a day in the past month without seeing her speaking at one engagement or another. And calling her current condition “basically unprecedented in American history” is more than a bit of a stretch.
The author offers up a number of recent headlines as supposed proof of all the boiling vitriol out there in the anti-Clinton camp.
- “Hillary Clinton Blames Everyone But Herself.”
- “In election blame game, it’s time for Hillary Clinton to take her shame.”
- “Republicans are delighted that Hillary Clinton is back.”
I’ll admit those probably aren’t exactly flattering headlines, but they’re also not exactly poison darts. Oh… but then there’s also this one from our colleague Matt Vespa at Townhall.
Okay… that one was a bit harsh, but in Matt’s defense he was quoting a NY Daily News columnist (and former Clinton supporter).
So one would assume that Joshua has some explanation for this “near-universal vitriol she encounters” everywhere she goes, yes? And you’d be correct. It’s because… (wait for it) she’s a girl. And you know how everyone feels about girls.
Some of the answer is surely rooted in gender. None of the other near-miss candidates bore the burden of being the first woman ever to run as a major-party nominee. Since the beginning of her public life, Clinton has served as a prism through which America has refracted its social anxieties. Critics branded her a radical feminist and left-wing agitator in her husband’s state house and White House – a cutthroat opportunist when she ran for the United States Senate – a woolen, “likable enough” alternative to Barack Obama – and, finally, a millionaire denizen of Wall Street. Each of these caricatures reveals distinct ways in which gender proxies for a broader constellation of social concerns. That dynamic did not magically recede once the election was over.
Please spare us, or at least wait until we’ve digested breakfast before trotting that one out yet again. Allow me to inject some blunt reality into this discussion. What you’re looking at here is pretty much precisely the opposite of what Zeitz is claiming and it’s something that conservatives have known (and predicted) for decades. It’s not in any way a fact that opponents will give more harsh treatment to the first woman, the first black person, the first Jew…. fill in the blank with the demographic of your choice. The reality is that everyone had to couch their criticisms of the policies and resumes of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton very carefully precisely because any criticism, no matter how precisely structured and lashed to specific policy points and historically accurate facts was going to be met by forces on the Left exclaiming, “You’re only saying that because you’re a racist/sexist!”
We always knew it was coming and come it did, in vast tidal waves of accusations.
Here’s another bit of reality for you. I don’t hate Hillary Clinton. I didn’t when she was First Lady. I didn’t when she was my Senator. I didn’t when she was Secretary of State. I didn’t when she was a presidential candidate. Oh, to be sure, I found her to be a luke-warm, mediocre candidate on the best of days. I opposed her reheated playbook of socialist policies which I felt would be destructive to the nation. I found her to be a person of little to no significant accomplishments who had both her Senate seat and her position at the State Department handed to her on a silver platter. I certainly had no intention of voting for her. But I didn’t hate her.
And here’s the other pertinent fact. I wouldn’t even be talking about her now were it not for two things. You (as in her adoring fans in the press) can’t stop talking about her and she can’t stop talking about herself. If she wants to continue her 2017 World Self Pity Tour, rending her clothing and bemoaning how unfair it all was, and you lot want to keep talking about her like a martyr, people are going to respond rather than letting this campaign to rewrite history stand unchallenged. If she were still out there taking long walks in the woods with her husband, enjoying the company of her grandchildren, or doing anything else retired folks of a certain age frequently enjoy, we wouldn’t be here today having this conversation, Joshua.
I hope that helps.