My wife Barbara has begun yelling at the television set every time she hears Hillary Clinton. This is abnormal behavior, since Barbara is a meditative practitioner of everything peaceful and organic, and is inspired by Barack Obama’s transformational appeal.
For Barbara, Hillary has become the screech on the blackboard. From First Lady to Lady Macbeth.
It’s getting to me as well. Last year, I was somewhat reconciled to the prospect of supporting and pressuring Hillary as the nominee amidst the rising tide of my friends who already hated her, irrationally I thought. I was one of those people Barack accuses of being willing to settle. I even had framed a flattering autographed message from Hillary. But as the campaign has gone on and on, her signed portrait still leans against the wall in my study. I don’t know where she belongs anymore.
At least Hillary was a known quantity in my life. I knew of the danger of her becoming more and more hawkish as she tried to break the ultimate glass ceiling. I also knew that she could be forced to change course if public opinion was fiercely opposed to the war. And I knew she was familiar with radical social causes from her own life experience in the sixties. So my progressive task seemed clear: help build an antiwar force powerful enough to make it politically necessary to end the war. Been there, done that. And in the process, finally put a woman in the White House. A soothing bonus.
But as the Obama campaign gained momentum, Hillary began morphing into the persona that has my pacifist wife screaming at the television set.
Going negative doesn’t begin to describe what has happened. Hillary is going over the edge. Even worse are the flacks she sends before the cameras on her behalf, like that Kiki person, who smirks and shakes her head at the camera every time she fields a question. Or the real carnivores, like Howard Wolfson, Lanny Davis and James Carville, whose sneering smugness prevents countless women like my wife from considering Hillary at all.
To use the current terminology, Hillary people are bitter people, even more bitter than the white working-class voters Barack has talked about. Because they circle the wagons so tightly, they don’t recognize how identical, self-reinforcing and out-of-touch they are.
To take just one example, the imagined association between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers will suffice. Hillary is blind to her own roots in the sixties. In one college speech she spoke of ecstatic transcendence; in another, she said, “Our social indictment has broadened. Where once we exposed the quality of life in the world of the South and the ghettos, now we condemn the quality of work in factories and corporations. Where once we assaulted the exploitation of man, now we decry the destruction of nature as well. How much long can we let corporations run us?”