Double Standards

Gop’s ‘Angry Hillary’ trope is a taste of things to come
By IAN DONNIS  |  March 30, 2006

In the aftermath of President Bush’s most recent State of the Union address, talk-radio pundits focused not on the deteriorating situation Iraq, the challenges facing working Americans, or any number of other important topics. Instead, the most salient thing to emerge from the president’s January 31 speech seemed to be how dour and angry Hillary Clinton looked while listening to it.

Although this kind of political coverage by caricature is patently ridiculous, we can expect much more of it, particularly because of Bush’s plummeting approval ratings and since Clinton is casting a large shadow over the fast-approaching 2008 presidential campaign.

In fact, Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman wasted little time in contending that Hillary is too angry to be a viable candidate for the White House. Similarly, in Strategery, a recent book by Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon, GOP message guru Karl Rove predicts that the former first lady will be a “formidable campaigner,” but cited the “brittleness about her” as a leading personal weakness.

Bill Clinton succeeded in being both a wildly popular president and an appealing vessel for conservative cultural criticism — some of it based on apocryphal origins, like the fictitious account of how a very costly presidential haircut once delayed the departure of planes at Los Angeles Airrport (funny how a son of privilege like Bush rarely faces mainstream squawking about his own elitism). So it should be no surprise that Hillary is a Kennedy-like figure, someone who people tend to react to either with intense love or intense hate. Given the anti-Hillary propaganda machine, it’s fair to wonder how much of this is based on her actual record, as opposed to a fabricated image.

Democrats continue to wring their hands about their recent inability to effectively compete against Republicans. Although structural impediments could preclude broad congressional reversals in 2008, the functioning of the Bush White House offers more than ample grist for the mill. Whether Hillary will emerge as the Dems’ first female presidential candidate remains to be seen, but the GOP efforts to soften her up at this early stage suggest no small degree of concern.

  Topics: This Just In , U.S. Government, Elections and Voting, Politics,  More more >
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