Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How the Left Bashed Hillary Clinton with Right-Wing Slander in the Democratic Primary

The piece in the Guardian is titled Destroying Hillary Clinton. I stumbled on it this morning thanks to the mention at Tennessee Guerilla Women. Although I’m familiar with most of the slimy sexist and misogynous attacks made on Hillary Clinton over the years it was still jarring to read the detailed documentation by Melissa McEwan and Maureen McCluskey. And this is only Part I; expect Part II in the Guardian tomorrow.

Part I of Destroying Hillary Clinton addresses the growing dismay many of us experienced in the Democratic primary as the left used the right wing’s accumulated slander to repeatedly bash Clinton in favor of Obama who only recently has been discovered to have feet of clay - read here, here, and here.

The McEwan and McCluskey lead:

‘‘1998, as six years of a national campaign to demonize First Lady Hillary Clinton — funded by conservatives and rooted in profound anti-feminism — was reaching a fevered crescendo, then-conservative David Brock (now of Media Matters) penned a book called The Seduction of Hillary Rodham. The publisher's note for the tome says of its subject: ‘No public figure in contemporary life has elicited more polarized reactions than Hillary Rodham Clinton. The first presidential spouse who pursued a major policymaking role, the beleaguered first lady has been a heroine and role model to her feminist allies - and a malevolent, power-mad shrew to her conservative foes.’

‘‘Sometime in the last decade, her liberal foes evidently decided that whole ‘malevolent, power-mad shrew’ thing sounded pretty good, too.

‘‘Throughout the course of the Democratic primary, it was neatly repackaged as ‘wildly ambitious person who will do anything in her voracious quest to win including destroying the Democratic Party while cackling monstrously and whose womanness totally doesn't matter we swear.’ The classic misogynist charge once used against Clinton by the vast right-wing conspiracy became the rallying cry of large swaths of the erstwhile reality-based community.

"Without a hint of irony."

Remember when Chris Matthews was forced by his superiors to apologize for his comment about Clinton in which he suggested she would never have gotten as far as she had without the sympathy vote?

McEwan and McCluskey continue:

‘‘Clinton was suddenly a bitch, a witch, the Queen of Hearts ‘who has parasitically attached herself to the legacy and record of ‘her husband, the screech on the blackboard with an elitist trademark laugh. ‘Hitlery,’ ‘Hildebeast,’ and ‘Billary’ - staples of 1990s criticisms of the feminist First Lady have returned with a vengeance. She was a monster, the devil in a pantsuit, targeted with dehumanizing and eliminationist rhetoric to which liberal bloggers used to object when the right used it against liberals, but apparently now consider okay, as long as it's only directed at a candidate they don't like.

"In a spectacular ballet of aggressive misogyny, attacks on Clinton's femaleness masquerading as critiques of Clinton's policies and campaign failures (separate altogether from legitimate critiques of Clinton's policies and campaign failures), and indifference to the former, the liberal blogosphere - once a proud conglomeration of feisty challengers to Republican memes - embraced as its own one of the most pernicious strategies of the 1990s anti-Clinton conservatives.

"And they didn't stop there."

Here’s the treachery of the left:

"In a complete 180-degree turn, the same members of the left who had once defended Clinton against the attacks of the right wing - the trumped-up scandals and dug-up dirt that led to endless hours and millions upon millions of dollars wasted in fruitless investigations of the Clintons, their business dealings, their friends, not to mention the peculiar features of Bill's twig and berries - adopted the frames of those attacks as their own. Everything old was new again. Call it political retro chic.

‘‘‘One diarist on Daily Kos even provided a helpful guide to all the scandals of the Clinton years, with ratings from one to 10 based on scandal level and the level of Hillary Clinton's involvement. The ‘Level of Scandal’ for some of the scandals listed is artificially inflated by the diarist, JohnKWilson (author of a book on Obama), to reflect the impact of the ‘cover-up,’ thus adding five scandal points to Hillary's level-two-rated cattle-futures windfall for the alleged cover-up, and a whopping seven scandal points to level-one-rated ‘Travelgate’, based only on Wilson's conclusion that, despite the charge not having been substantiated, that Clinton must have lied under oath.

‘“Wilson acknowledged that Clinton has never, even after years of being investigated at great cost to the taxpayers, been charged with any sort of crime; however, that did not prevent him from concluding nonetheless, unhindered by the lack of evidence, that she has behaved unethically, that her judgment is lacking, that she lied under oath, that she is secretive, that she padded her legal bills (or lied about them), and that she must have participated in Bill's ‘abuse of power.’ The source for many of these allegations are books by Carl Bernstein and Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta, both of which were previously considered to be hit pieces containing a great deal of speculation and not much new information (in spite of the hype).

‘“The scandals of the 1990s - Monicagate, Travelgate, Whitewater, and, more importantly, the hovering specter that Hillary Clinton has something to hide, and the ability to reflexively and repeatedly invoke them under the guise of what the GOP would use against her - came to serve a number of purposes for her detractors, even those within the Democratic party. The financial and political scandals, in particular, were used to fuel the meme that Clinton is a liar and a cheat who was trying to steal the election away from Obama, that she'd so anything to win, is secretive and was hiding unsavory business associations (this was a particular rallying cry prior to the Clintons' release of their joint tax records, which incited a small flurry about how much they had made in the past seven years) and a great deal of uninformed commentary about the family foundation, as well as Clinton's daily records from her years as First Lady).

‘“Some of the scandal mentions were deployed defensively, in order to deflect attention away from Obama's own alleged scandals: When the press began to pay attention to Obama's association with Tony Rezko, supporters raised the complaint that insufficient attention was being paid to Whitewater, the Clintons' fateful failed Arkansas land deal, despite a multi-million dollar investigation that found no wrongdoing having been completed a decade earlier.

"By April, the blogfather Kos himself was agreeing that Clinton wasn't even to be considered a Democrat anymore.”


  1. Really really sad and disgusting. This is how the presumptive nominee ran his campaign against Hillary. They did not go after her on policy (they stole all her ideas) they went after her as a woman and a human being. Used all the repub talking points. The DNC did everything in its power to destroy one of their own. I want nothing to do with this party any longer.

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    I share your sentiments. Thanks for stopping by and do stay in touch.