This won’t exactly be a juicy, anti-Hillary post that will satisfy the right-wing palate. I don’t even want to write about Hillary today. I was hoping to save Hillary for last in my series on the candidates. That approach would have encouraged people to keep reading as they asked in eager anticipation, “When’s he going to get to Hillary?” Now, I’ll be covering Hillary before I discuss (yawn) Bill Richardson. So why am I writing about Hillary today? Because it’s her birthday. As I’ve said before, I try to be as time-appropriate as possible.
While this won’t be the juiciest post on Hillary, rest assured: this will not be the last time that I write about the Senator from New York. She will most likely be the Democratic nominee in 2008, so I’ll have plenty of opportunities to critique her every move.
What is it about Hillary that makes me shudder? Why do I grow visceral at the sound of her name? Well, I’ll keep writing to see if something therapeutic can result.
Like many Americans, I first heard of Hillary in 1992, when Bill Clinton was running for President. During the primaries, I didn’t really hate Bill Clinton, since he sounded rather conservative in comparison to the people he was up against (e.g., Tom Harkin, Jerry Brown). In fact, one of my staunchly conservative friends said at the time that Clinton was the only Democratic candidate who sounded “reasonable.” At least Clinton supported middle-class tax cuts! But, as I learned over the course of the election, Clinton had a number of liberal, big government ideas. And, although I was still mad at Bush I for appointing a pro-choice Health and Human Services secretary and raising taxes, my Republican spirit got restored because the religious right dominated the 1992 Republican National Convention. And when Clinton chose the self-righteous, pompous Al Gore as his running mate, it became clear in my mind whom to support.
I’m not even sure if I knew about Hillary when all this was happening. At some point during the election, I learned that Clinton had an assertive wife who wanted to play a key role in his potential Administration. She was labeled a feminist, which didn’t exactly resonate with me, a Phyllis Schlafly fan. I always pictured feminists as obnoxious women who hated men, supported abortion and gay marriage, opposed Christianity, and wanted to destroy the traditional family. I got annoyed because they acted as if they spoke for most American women, when actually the conservative Concerned Women for America outstripped the National Organization for Women in membership. Well, Hillary struck me as that sort of woman: what newly popular Rush Limbaugh was calling a “feminazi.” Her Tammy Wynette remark didn’t help her much in my eyes (not that she’d care), and Pat Buchanan’s revelation of her anti-family positions confirmed to me that I didn’t want her in the White House.
Add to that a characteristic that did not attract me: her smug arrogance. That’s a trait that I associate with a lot of liberals. They think that their way is the only way to help the world, and that anyone who disagrees with them hates the poor, minorities, women, and children. They often assume that “idealism” means agreeing with them. I got tired of teachers urging us to be idealistic/liberal. I also didn’t care much for my “idealistic” fellow students, who patted themselves on the backs for their idealism. Hillary seemed to epitomize what I disliked about liberals.
Today, I have the same reactions. Even when Hillary is right, she comes across as smug and condescending. I tend to agree with her foreign policy positions more than those of Obama, but her whole attitude is “I’m so much more intelligent than Barack. He obviously doesn’t grasp the deep nuances that I do.” On Larry King Live, she criticized George W. Bush for not being intellectually curious enough. Well, maybe the Bush Administration is not an academic BS session, as was the Clinton Presidency (which often talked and did nothing). My readers know that I dislike intellectual snobbery, and I see so much of that in liberals, especially Hillary Clinton.
I remember when she announced her candidacy from the Internet. She said, “Don’t you think that Washington is pretty one-sided?” She meant that the government was too conservative. It looks like an innocent comment, but it made me mad. For one, conservatives had to wait years before they finally got a government that was remotely interested in their concerns. Democrats have dominated Congress far longer than Republicans, and the Supreme Court has only recently become somewhat conservative. Second, if Hillary wants to criticize “one-sided,” then she should take a look at academia, the news media, and the entertainment industry. Those are the one-sided institutions. I wonder if she thought that her student activism days were one-sided, when many students and professors united behind socialism and repressive Communist regimes, intimidating those who did not agree. I know she looks with nostalgia on those days, as her support for a Woodstock museum demonstrates.
And then add to that her hypocrisy. Like a lot of liberals, she feels that the standards she applies to others do not apply to her. I’m serious in my characterization of liberals: they criticize Bush for things that Clinton also did, or they lambaste the tactics of conservative organizations (e.g., Operation Rescue) while ignoring the sinister actions of their own causes. They even have the audacity to criticize conservatives for inserting incivility and hate into political dialogue, when they show extreme hatred for President Bush. Of course, when they criticize us, they’re standing for justice; when we criticize them, we’re mean-spirited people on the quest for power. Huh huh. Whatever! Hillary exemplifies the liberal hypocrisy that I abhor. She excoriates Bush for the war, even though she voted to authorize it, using the same arguments that Bush did. She helped fire thousands of White House travel employees, but she thinks Bush is horrible for removing certain prosecutors.
The weird thing is that I would probably like her if she were on my side, though I wouldn’t care for her role in certain scandals. And I was surprised to learn that she could have been on my side. She was a Goldwater girl in 1964, in a time when most people saw Goldwater as an extreme right-wing nut. If only she had continued down that path rather than allowing herself to be influenced by the self-righteous, extremely leftist, morally degenerate trends of the 1970’s. We could have had an intelligent, resourceful woman in our camp!
James writes: …her smug arrogance. That’s a trait that I associate with a lot of liberals. They think that their way is the only way to help the world, and that anyone who disagrees with them hates the poor, minorities, women, and children.
They probably kick their dog, and spit on old women too.
James continues: I dislike intellectual snobbery, and I see so much of that in liberals …
Of course, many liberals are blue-collar workers, and I doubt that you will find a lot of “intellectual snobbery” among them. Perhaps you have just hung around the wrong type of liberals?
James adds: Of course, when they criticize us, they’re standing for justice; when we criticize them, we’re mean-spirited people on the quest for power.
One of the things I dislike most about politics is that it tends to be very contentious, and both sides tend to create caricatures of their opponents so as to vilify them. Both sides often appear smug, arrogant and mean-spirited to the other side. Both sides think that their way is the only way to help the world, and that anyone who disagrees with them stands in the way of true justice. It is all a very nasty business.
You make good points, Steven. A lot of my perspective is based on where I have been. I’ve gone to educational institutions that were predominantly liberal, where I saw a lot of the smugness I described. Most of them are the Hillary types–educated, activist, saw their way as the only way, looking down on others. But I’m sure there are many liberals who have had bad experiences with conservatives. I personally didn’t because that’s my worldview.
There are many liberals who are blue-collar workers. One was my step-grandpa. Both he and my grandma were staunch Democrats. They even voted for Dukakis in 88! (I’ve heard that my grandma voted for Bush in the last election because of terror issues, but that’s another story). He was a veteran and a blue collar worker, and I guess he supported the Democrats because of the welfare state. Socially, though, he was somewhat conservative, for he opposed homosexuality. And there were other liberals I’ve encountered: elderly people, African-Americans, etc. I think the same story was true for them: they voted Democrat, but they were socially conservative. But you’re right overall–when I say “liberal,” I mean largely the types I’ve encountered at educational institutions. I also include the Democratic leadership, though I can picture myself having a beer (or these days, giger ale) with Charlie Rangle or Barack Obama.
James writes: I always pictured feminists as obnoxious women who hated men, supported abortion and gay marriage, opposed Christianity, and wanted to destroy the traditional family. I got annoyed because they acted as if they spoke for most American women, when actually the conservative Concerned Women for America outstripped the National Organization for Women in membership.
In your caricature of feminism, you forgot to add “bra burning.”
But it all depends on how one defines “feminism,” and admittedly there are different kinds. If one defined “feminism” simply as equal rights before the law and in the workplace, then I would suggest that feminism won the cultural war, and those who believe that women should only be mothers, pregnant and at home cleaning and cooking, lost. The number of people who believe in “feminism” (as I have defined it) are in the vast majority, and far outstrip the memberships of NOW and CWA added together.
Yeah, the bra burning is a biggie!
I also am a feminist in the sense that I believe in equal opportunity for women, though I wouldn’t require a lot of women to do heavy physical labor. And, although Phyllis Schlafly often extolled the virtues of homemaking, I think that she felt the same way. In her arguments against the ERA, she said that the law can protect women without such an amendment. She herself did many things outside the home (e.g., become a lawyer), but she did not neglect her duties as a mother. For example, she taught her children how to read. Is feminism successful today in the sense that more women are entering the work force? On one level, yes. Women are now in combat positions in the military. At the same time, many women work because they have to. And I once saw a 60 Minutes episode which said that many women are choosing to stay at home and raise their children, to the disappointment of feminists, who think this will endanger the progress women have made.
James writes: And I once saw a 60 Minutes episode which said that many women are choosing to stay at home and raise their children, to the disappointment of feminists, who think this will endanger the progress women have made.
If they made such a statement, and I have no reason to doubt your statement, they were being silly and shallow. Women should enjoy equality in the workplace as well as respect if they decided to be a homemaker. A truly feminist position, in my opinion, would be one which respects the woman’s choice either way. As you might know from reading my profile (or perhaps you don’t), I dropped out of seminary to be a homemaker and raise two daughters (at the point I dropped out we had only one daughter, the other came later). Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense to have one parent at home full time, without the responsibilities of a job. But I don’t believe that a stay-at-home parent needs to be female, nor do I believe that every female is better suited to be a stay-at-home parent than every male.
Actually, I did read your profile. I saw you added a lot of good movies.
It was a few years since I saw the 60 Minutes episode. I think the woman was concerned that men wouldn’t hire women as much if they thought women would eventually quit to become a homemaker. That was part of it, though I think she also thought that women were going against all the progress women have made.
I like what you say about choice. One movie I like (which, unfortunately, I saw only once) is Mona Lisa Smile, in which one woman chooses to be a homemaker, and another enters law.
As one who has spent 18 years now, staying at home taking care of our children, etc. I can understand why most women have decided to work instead of becoming a full time homemaker. Part of the problem is that families become dependent on two incomes, but it is my guess that many women prefer the adult fellowship which one finds at work to the loneliness of taking care of children.
I don’t know. That’s certainly what the media presents to us at times. On Desperate Housewives, Lynette hates staying home and taking care of her bratty kids, which is why she works outside the home. But there are people who want to play a greater role in their children’s growth and development, or who reject not going so after their kids are grown. You’re probably one of those people, which is why you stay home. I remember Phyllis Schlafly contrasting herself with feminists. She was enjoying her grandchildren, while many of them chose not to marry or have children. Some may dislike Schlafly for being smug in that instance, but I think that women should think about these sorts of issues when they make choices (if they have a choice).