The Hillary Hate Machine has been with us for over 20 years now.

As has been well-documented (here at my place and elsewhere), it has become a cottage industry for the right-wing media machine. The professional right has found it quite profitable to peddle Hillary Hate through a string of “documentaries” and book titles, and it’s natural that after decades of this bullshit, a good bit of it has filtered into the American consciousness.

Few political figures have been served up as a national punching bag so religiously and relentlessly as Hillary Clinton. That she hasn’t retired from public life but instead continued to push forward in the political arena, finally making history as America’s first female presidential nominee of a major political party, is a testament to her strength and resolve. This in itself is impressive.

I’ve heard every horrible thing one can say about Hillary Clinton: corporate whore, warmonger, cravenly ambitious, manipulative, crooked, incompetent — and that’s the nice stuff. Let’s ignore the lesbian, murderer, cat-killer stuff. I am really going to enjoy hearing what those folks have to say when Madame President serves out her two terms and ends up not be any of the things the far-left and far-right have said about her.

Yes, Hillary Hate is a real thing, has always been a real thing, and has now been turned into an actual profit center by the right-wing establishment (the Kochs, the DeVoses, the Vigueries, the Adelsons, the Perries …). We’ve got D’Nesh D’Souza’s “Hillary’s America” playing at the local multiplex in my neighborhood, despite the fact that his predictions in “2016: Obama’s America” were hilariously off-base. It seems there’s no shortage of financing for a right-wing smear campaign, no matter how outrageous.

It’s a technique rarely employed by the Left, perhaps because there is no “professional Left” of the same institutional vigor as exists on the right. Regardless, now that this strategy has been institutionalized and monetized, it will be used to attack every subsequent Democratic leader — indeed, it already has. God forbid any member of the Obama family should aspire to anything in public life after January 2017; if they do, expect the Wingnut Wurlitzer to be cranked up to full speed.

But where did the Hillary Hate start? It’s a question many have pondered lately. We’re a nation of short memories, after all. So, thank you, internet, for bringing us this old piece from 1996, which is now making the rounds. (Hat tip: I saw it over at DailyKos, a place I rarely visit anymore. Might have to change that…)

So let’s jump into our time machine and go back to 1996, a year many of today’s young voters don’t even remember. But I remember it well, and this article brings it all back. Remember the time when the right feared Hillary was a far-left Socialist? Remember the establishment’s disdain for her as a feminist, at a time when feminism was under attack? Of “Backlash” and the kewl kids saying, “I’m not a feminist but …”?

The fact that Hillary was a working woman reshaping the more traditional “wifely” role of First Lady, the fact that she had an office in the Old Executive Office Building and was concerned more about policy than china patterns, was enough to set the Sally Quinns and other Washington social elites off their rockers. And it’s tempting to say that Hillary Hate was just another piece of the anti-woman/anti-feminist “backlash” making its way through the culture at the time. I think there’s some truth to this.

But I’m also reminded that Hillary Hate really started as Clinton hate: Hill and Bill were the “white trash” outsiders, who thoroughly pissed off the Washington establishment with their brashness. The Beltway media hated them from day one, and wasn’t even self-aware enough to question why.

From 1996:

Speaking more generally, a close friend of the Clintons’ brings up yet another theory: “The President thinks that they are treated so harshly because he is ‘white trash,’ as he puts it. The way somebody put it is, Imagine Washington as a country club, and Clinton as the golf pro. They think he’s perfectly competent at what he does, they think he is a good guy. You want him to have a drink at your table with you and your friends, and maybe even come to dinner. But the golf pro is never ‘one of us,’ never a real “member.”

The Clintons were never one of the Beltway establishment, and yet they had the nerve to crash the country club. I vividly remember the tsk-tsking about Bill Clinton’s McDonald’s runs. Quelle horreur! For the record, we saw the same reaction when the Obamas came to power in 2008. They were outsiders, they weren’t part of the establishment, they were different. It’s really funny to see how the outsider Clintons became the establishment — even criticized for it in 2016 — but 20 years of public service allows one to build a network. The Clintons reshaped the Democratic Party in the ’90s, and it’s the party we have today: one of inclusion, one which brought us our first African American president and, God-willing, our first female president. This is something to be proud of. The outsiders are now the insiders and yes, it took 20 years, but this is how it’s done. Meanwhile, the Republican Party is imploding into a festering cesspool of rage and hate.

So the next time I hear someone tell me any of the dozens of awful things about Hillary Clinton that I’ve been hearing for the bulk of my adult life, it bears remembering where this vitriol comes from. The Clintons were originally outsiders, who came in and reshaped the political establishment. Upsetting the tea tray at a time when America was undergoing a cultural shift of its own sparked a good bit of backlash. That the right was able to sprinkle all of that with for-profit fairy dust and political opportunism only cemented the deal.


Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Hillary Clinton

18 responses to “Outsiders

  1. You mean she really didn’t stuff Vince Foster into a wood-chipper and send his bones to BENGHAZI BENGHAZI BENGHAZI??? I know, I remember all that garbage from the 90s, too. Not looking forward to it being dredged up for the next 8 years, either. She needs to push for an updated FAIRNESS DOCTRINE to get that crap off the air. If it means bye to Rachel, I can live with that if it also gets rid of Fox News and right-wing radio.

  2. Jim "Prup" Benton

    I’m sorry to pick up on what was just a case of writing too fast, but I wish you’d re-edit one small section that reads

    and that’s the nice stuff. Let’s ignore the lesbian, murderer, cat-killer stuff.”

    I know you didn’t mean it, but my cats are very annoyed to have you compare people-killing to cat murder, and I wouldn’t be surprised at a few lesbians being equally annoyed.

    • I’m not sure what your issue is with this sentence?

      • …I think he’s being silly. 🙂

      • Jim "Prup" Benton

        I was going to simply pass off the line with a joke, but can’t believe that you — of all people I regularly read on the net who are not themselves gay (or LGBTQ) — don’t see that equating calling someone a lesbian to calling someone a murderer or a cat-killer is, in itself offensive, maybe even more offensive than some comments by an ex-PA Senator that got his name a new definition on Google — but which ‘only’ equated gayness with pedophilia and bestiality.

        I know absolutely that you meant nothing of the sort, but I am somewhat shocked that you didn’t see it when I called it to your attention.

        (Remember — I’m sure I’ve mentioned this here — that while I am bisexual and celebrate LGBTQ rights in general, my main reason for supporting marriage equality is so that other people can claim the title that my mothers’ 30+ year relationship, filled with storms and love could not win for themselves.)

      • Oh, for cyring out loud, Jim. I was not equating being lesbian with being a murderer or cat-killer. I was making a list of names that Hillary has been called by right-wingers. Same as in the previous sentence, when I said “corporate whore, warmonger, cravenly ambitious, manipulative,” etc. It’s a list.

        I have no problem with anyone who is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, you name it. But I’m pretty sure that the right-wingers who labeled Hillary Clinton such didn’t mean it as a complement. Certainly not when Glenn Beck said Hillary would “be having sex with a woman on the White House desk,” or when RW smearmonger Ed Klein recycled salacious rumors in “The Truth About Hillary” and said she had embraced “revolutionary lesbianism.” They meant it as a comment on her character, they were using dog whistles for their conservative homophobic audience, and they were not simply reporting on her sexual orientation.

  3. If I remember right, Newt Gingrich’s mom pretty much spoke for the wingers in an interview with Connie Chung. Everything else is mostly embellishment, though David Broder and Sally Quinn also painted a few broader brushstrokes.

  4. G S Herscher

    Several years ago, a good acquaintance of mine, a savvy insider in WV politics, good friend of Jay Rockerfeller, said to my wife,
    “you know Patty, a lot of Republicans are just mean people.”
    It seems that some of these mean people have a lot of money, or access to lots of money, and for years they have enjoyed doing their meaness

  5. Democommie

    The’reason gutless fucking cowards.

  6. Democommie

    Boy, do I fucking HATE all of the “Help” offered by software.

  7. Democommie

    Should read,”They’re gutless fucking cowards”.

  8. Kathleen

    I made the mistake of listening to National Public RageCrack on my way home from work. Of course they focused on the “thousands” of protesters and Sanders supporters. Later, Moron Liesalot, NPR’s “political reporter”, solemnly intoned how Hillary’s unfavorability ratings are as low as Trump’s, after which I actually screamed, “Gee, could the 20 years of you media whores dutifully repeating the lies of the right wing slime machine have anything to do with that?” I also threw in a few expletives but this is a family blog.
    I so loathe the mainslime media and “The Left”. In some ways they’re worst than “the right”.
    Speaking of “The Left” being as bad as “The Right”, I suspect Rachel Maddow will be looking for Bernie Sanders supporters as long as Karl Rove keeps looking for those Romney votes in SW Ohio. Or until they find the Holy Grail. Whichever comes first.

  9. That’s is pretty harsh. Not undeserved, but pretty harsh.

  10. seamus

    i must disagree. i believe that the clintons and now the obamas will always remain outsiders within the beltway. that whalebone corset crowd has a stick too large to dislodge up the nether end of their alimentary canal. but i regard that outsider status as a laurel, a badge of honor and authenticity.