This article originally appeared in the 2.28.o8 issue of Metroland.
Up until about a month ago, I was happily ambivalent about the Democratic presidential race. Either Hillary or Obama would be fine presidents, wonderfully historic, and a vast improvement to the embarrassment we now have. That’s over now.
As Obama’s meteoric rise took hold, Hillary Clinton has demonstrated that she represents simply the worst of American politics. The pits. There had been a couple things early, odd whisper campaigns coming from Clinton “advisors” about Obama being Muslim, his drug use in his youth (which he’s written about in his books), even statements he made in kindergarten, and a couple of Clinton aides got fired for some of these, which of course caused the silly innuendos to make the news.
But then nonsense became the front and center of her campaign. The dissembling, the lies, the parsing, the spinning. As Hillary lost the support of blacks, the college educated and those under 50, she and her minions set out on a series of disgusting ploys to reel in the uninformed, the ignorant, the bigoted, and her shrinking base of “identity voters,” older white women whose vote is less for Hillary than it is for themselves.
Fortunately, this kind of Rovian strategy, which worked so well with evangelicals for George W., just hasn’t flown with Democrats, and Hillary’s campaign has sunk like a stone, and along with it, whatever’s left of the Clinton legacy, which had seen considerable rehabilitation over the past few years.
Her clownish advisors like Harold Ickes and Howard Wolfson have been dropping hints about going after Obama’s pledged delegates and are trying to certify the de-certified Florida and Michigan delegates, which Hillary cheated to get. These folks have been burning up the phone lines trying to strong-arm the superdelegates. Nobody’s buying it.
There have been the day-before-the-debate bombs. Last week it was the phony plagiarism accusation. The Hillary advisors who dropped this one knew that this was a lie, but hey, it made the news cycle, and Obama had to respond. This week it was the digging up and sending of the picture of Obama in traditional African garb to Matt Drudge, followed quickly by insidious claims by Clinton toady Maggie Williams that Obama’s protests about the pictures showed he was ashamed of his heritage. This isn’t politics, it’s swift-boating.
In the past week, Hillary has careened oddly out of control, bouncing from one absurd pose to the next, recalling nothing so much as the recent Britney Spears lunacy. Except people seem to still care about Britney Spears, and Hillary fatigue, for whatever reason, sprouts early. After her bizarre sweetness and light routine at last week’s Texas debate, Hillary turned attack dog on Saturday, with a foaming-at-the-mouth hysterical and shrill complaint about some Obama mailings. (And yes, if she were a man, I’d be using the words “hysterical” and “shrill.” Don’t even think about playing the gender card this time.) She even went so far as to compare Obama to Karl Rove, and ended the tirade with a silly, Gary Cooper-like “meet me in Ohio” dare. It was all a charade, and it was all scripted, and it was all fake. The mailings she claimed “had just been handed to me” had in fact been in circulation for weeks. They were very old news. Hillary and her people certainly knew about them the day they were first mailed. Her invoking the name Karl Rove was utterly disingenuous, considering her subterranean attempts at character assassination over the previous couple of weeks.
It’s all been terribly sad, and it verifies many of the things Hillary’s detractors have been saying for years, digs that once seemed cruel and now look prescient. The Clinton campaign has been tilting at windmills for weeks now, and has been playing increasingly dirty with each passing day. And the shameful thing is that it undermines Obama’s upcoming campaign, the campaigns of every Democrat running for office this November who are relying on Obama’s coattails, and it threatens to dismantle the waking-up of an entire generation of Americans to the importance of who is running the country. Every pathetic lie and distortion Hillary pushes out there lessens the likelihood we’ll have a bullet-proof majority in both houses of Congress, and a Supreme Court that is at least balanced.
I caught a Clinton speech in South Texas last week, and she was reminiscing about helping with a voter registration drive there in 1972, when she and Bill were young Democratic activists and working for George McGovern. It struck me that if Hillary and Bill Clinton were young idealists working the political fields today, they sure as hell wouldn’t be working for Hillary Clinton. They’d be much to smart to buy in to her transparent and divisive crap.
Hopefully she’ll pack it in soon and stop making a fool of herself. Hopefully the voters of New York will remember her shameful behavior when her number comes around in the Senate in four years. We deserve so much better than this.