Hillary Rodham Clinton’s name evokes a wide range of emotions. To some, her name inspires confidence and pride, while in others it encourages outright hatred and fear.
Some take it too far, using the words “bitch” and “evil” to describe her. Comedian and Real Time host Bill Maher put it best when he said that there is nothing to hate, truly hate, about this woman. He also said that neo-conservative and radio talk show hosts do not really hate her, only themselves. It’s kind of cryptic but the point is valid.
Don’t expect that kind of logic to play a big role come November. Smear ads and muckraking campaigns reach a putrid peak during presidential campaigns. Propaganda in 2004 discussed George W. Bush’s alcohol and cocaine-fueled youth, as well as his questionable National Guard service. John Kerry’s Vietnam record was disputed by fellow veterans in the infamously successful Swift Boat ads.
From a factual perspective, Bush had already repented for his actions and announced he was a born-again Christian. Kerry could have avoided combat service altogether, but chose to volunteer for combat missions on coastal patrol boats in Vietnam.
So what can Clinton expect from her rivals if she becomes the nominee? She will likely face attacks on her image and integrity that will dwarf the Swift Boat campaign. She might justifiably fear that these ads could render her presidential aspirations hopeless.
First, there is Bill Clinton. No, he is not running for president, but he will likely be her surrogate vice president. The working class likely hasn’t forgiven him for the free trade policies that cost thousands of jobs. Conservatives have never forgotten his sexual exploits.
On the underground news side, one story has escaped national attention. According to the New York Times, Bill Clinton and a Canadian mining entrepreneur visited Kazakhstan together. Kazakhstan has been ruled by a dictator for 19 years, and its recent elections did not meet international standards for fairness and openness.
Nevertheless, Bill Clinton agreed to express “enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader’s bid to head an international organization that monitors elections and supports democracy,” a statement that contradicts U.S. foreign policy, including his wife’s policy.
Shortly after the joint visit, the Canadian secured a lucrative uranium mining deal in Kazakhstan, and Bill Clinton’s charity received a $31.3 million donation from the Canadian. Both the Canadian and Bill Clinton denied the meeting and hid the origin of the donation until Times reporters pointed out contradictions from both Kazakhstan’s president and the country’s mining minister.
On the Republican side, many conservative voters are pledging to stay home on Election Day if McCain is their party’s nominee. The only thing that could spur them out the door is the need to vote against Clinton and, more importantly, her husband.
Clinton is pretty divisive by herself. She refused to apologize for voting for the Iraq war and recently voted to label Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization – which many feared was another tactic by the Bush administration to lure the country into a third war.
Clinton’s 1993 universal health care program was so divisive that, even with a Democrat-controlled Congress, she could not attract enough votes to get it out of committee and up for vote. Supporters blamed her unwillingness to compromise, a stigma that Clinton retains.
Many Republicans and independents would undoubtedly swing over to vote for Barack Obama in the presidential campaign, and polls reflect this. This is a major flaw in the U.S. primary system – a system that, in many states, prevents voters from casting their lot outside their political party, and forbids independents to vote in either primary.
Clinton may force voters – uninspired by worn and tired candidates with unfavorable policies – from the Republican Party to vote against her despite their issues with McCain.
She may ultimately be the nominee, and win the election with ease. However, national media ads are already in the works, preparing to tank her campaign. Clinton’s political enemies have been working on them since she left the White House for a career in politics, with the presidency her obvious goal.
If victory is the Democratic Party’s aim in 2008, they’ll vote against their primary voters and nominate the candidate the Republicans have no dirt on, unless Republicans plan to play on racial fears among their ultra-conservative base and appear unequivocally prejudiced.
Thomas King is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.