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December 13, 2012 3:23 PM Return of the “Red Queen”

By Ed Kilgore

At the end of a somewhat muddled meditation on the Greater Meaning of an HRC presidential candidacy in 2012, The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf offers a thought that has probably occurred to a lot of us at one time or another:

What I’ll be most interested to see, if she does run, is how the conservative movement reacts to her candidacy. With relative sanity, insofar as they can’t very well accuse her of being a Kenyan anti-colonialist? With a return to the anti-Clintonian fervor of the 1990s? I suspect the latter reaction wouldn’t play well. Politicians who hang around long enough seem to become inured even to scandals in which they were actually caught red-handed. There isn’t anything so clear cut in Clinton’s past, and if many Americans are like me, the word “Whitewater” would send an involuntary shudder of dread coursing through the population, as if we were collectively told we’d have to re-watch the pre-trial motions from the O.J. Simpson trial while sequestered in a cheap hotel with nothing for diversion but Clinton-era back issues of The American Spectator.

During the primary battles of 2008, a frequently heard argument for Obama (which he reinforced himself by thinly-veiled references to the tired partisan battles of the 1990s) was that conservatives would not freak out and hyper-mobilize against him as they would against HRC, given the Right’s longstanding descriptions of her as a sort of “Red Queen” who inflamed the worst tendencies (yes, including philandering, believe it or not) of her husband.

In the late stages of the 2008 general election, and ever since, Obama’s specific characteristics have been part and parcel of the worst conservative freak-out in living memory. But it’s never been that clear anything about Obama has been much more than a pretext on the Right for demonizing the opposition, whoever it is. After all, if you are in the habit of treating anyone on the center-left as a conscious agent of a conspiracy to enslave the country and expose it to destruction by its enemies that dates back at least to the Roosevelt—if not the Wilson—administration, then you’ll find the “facts,” real or invented, to support your Grand Narrative.

But if HRC is the next Democratic presidential candidate (at a time when all the pressures on the GOP to pull off a big win against the tides of demographics and history have been increased to a high-pitched steamy shriek), it will be interesting to see if our little friends on the Right choose to replay the tapes of past descriptions of her as a emasculating shrew who combines the worst features of the Nanny State with the cold mendacity of a Superlawyer—or comes up with some new Devil-Theory based on “vetting” her anew. Unless or until the time she rules out a presidential run, you can expect to see conservative gabbers hold their very own “invisible primary” over how to talk about HRC.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • BillFromPA on December 13, 2012 3:41 PM:

    First, the repugs currently alive will never acknowledge the legitimacy of any Dem president, regardless of race or gender. Whoever gets the Dem nomination will be slandered with whatever the repugs can dig up or invent and every effort will be mand to make her/him a one-termer. With the ginned up impeachment of Clinton and 'our sole priority is to make Obama a one term president', the template for the current GOP is set.

    As for Clinton in particular, they'll start with the playbook they used in the 90s and get creative as needed. Any notion that a given tactic will be avoided because 'it wouldn't play well' is a dream. Protecting low taxes for the rich via the cliff, demanding entitlement cuts or no debt ceiling deal, union gutting in Mich isn't 'playing well'. BFD.

  • David in NY on December 13, 2012 3:42 PM:

    "as a emasculating shrew who combines the worst features of the Nanny State with the cold mendacity of a Superlawyer—or comes up with some new Devil-Theory based on “vetting” her anew."

    Don't forget co-conspirator in the Vince Forster murder ...

    Their mendacity and lack of shame is without bounds.

  • T2 on December 13, 2012 3:45 PM:

    "With relative sanity" oh sure, there are lots of relatively sane Conservatives these days....relative to who? Jeffery Dahmer? These nuts will go bonkers if Hillary runs. They'll make their attacks on Obama look like elementary school taunts compared to what they'll throw at Hillary. Friedersdorf sounds a bit naive, I think.

  • Rich on December 13, 2012 3:48 PM:

    The discussion of HRC in '16 shows the poverty of intellect on the part of the MSM. Simply letting the topic dies is probably the best thing we can for the time being.

  • Mitch on December 13, 2012 3:52 PM:

    You ever talk to any conservative friends/family about HRC?

    If so, then you already know how they already demonize, they demonized her during my teens in the '90s and they will demonize her if she runs again. They will call her everything offensive imaginable and accuse her of the same crap they throw on Bill and Obama. There are few people in the world who are hated by the GOP more than HRC.

    Really, though, it doesn't matter who the Dems nominate; all Democratic politicians are un-American, Socialist heathens to our friends on the Right. Any and all Dems have, are and will be condemned as the spawn of Satan. Imagining otherwise is naïve to the point of ignorance.

  • NoCal Liberal on December 13, 2012 3:54 PM:

    Testing the water, recognizing the challenges but trying to revive the good old times: http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/saunders/article/First-lady-second-impeachment-4106459.php

  • don on December 13, 2012 4:02 PM:

    Actually, the thing to watch would be the reaction from the left. She was vilified for her Iraq war vote and refusal to "apologize" for it. Four years into an Obama presidency and his base has been disappointed in policies that are not much different than what hers might have been.

  • danimal on December 13, 2012 4:13 PM:

    I liked Obama in 2008, and I certainly felt Clinton Fatigue when contemplating HRC in the White House. But the GOP has been so reprehensible to Obama that I would like to see HRC get the job as a big middle finger to the neanderthals on the right that continually demonize any Democrat they run against.

    I hope they never win again until they learn civility and respect.

  • JGH on December 13, 2012 4:17 PM:

    I guess I would be part of what is called the left. I don't particularly like dynastic families or the DLC. I would prefer a fresh face, male or female, with somewhat more leftward leanings. Persuadable voters are mostly morons, so why not go a little to the left? And the tendency to have so many candidates of an age that they would be forcefully retired from flying a plane is a little fascinating.

  • troglodyte on December 13, 2012 4:23 PM:

    I harmonize with danimal's observations, though I favored HRC in the 2008 primaries. I would like the Dems to develop some new blood (or is it to sprout fresh presidential timber?), but you cant deny the potential satisfaction of HRC running for Pres and winning.

  • Paulk on December 13, 2012 4:24 PM:


    Benghazi, of course. And maybe Fast and Furious.

    They don't need evidence of a scandal to get worked up, as every other "scandal" has proven. But they do need a name and something to rally the troops around.

    Sure, today they lament that Obama is "throwing Clinton under the bus" rather than accept his culpability in the death of a U.S. Ambassador. In four years, she will be the architect of the cover-up, just like with every other cover-up in her career.

    (You see what I did there in the end?)

  • JMG on December 13, 2012 4:25 PM:

    I have a great deal of respect for Secretary Clinton. But to have four of five Presidents over 30 years come from the same two families seems to indicate a certain lack of imagination in the American political system. God, what if she winds up running against Jeb?

  • MuddyLee on December 13, 2012 4:47 PM:

    Put HRC on the Supreme Court when Obama gets a chance to make an appointment. If the rightwingers go crazy over that, then for the next one appoint Al Gore. We should never forget how crazy the conservatives have been regarding the Clintons in the 1990s and the Obamas since 2008. It has done great damage to the country.

  • T2 on December 13, 2012 4:50 PM:

    @JMG -Clinton came from Smallville USA, the Bush's are a political dynasty going back decades.I'm not bothered by that aspect of a Hillary presidency.
    I believe we'd be looking at four or eight more years of the same gridlock we're having with Obama. But, probably, that is going to be the case with any Dem president for the next decade. Besides Hillary and Biden, who could run, anyway?

    You wanna see what a Hillary candidacy would look like - just see what the GOPers did to Susan Rice. Odd part of it, SecState Clinton should have been the one blamed by Benghazi, not RIce. go figure.

  • Doug on December 13, 2012 4:52 PM:

    "God, what if she winds up running against Jeb?" JMG @ 4:25 PM

    That'll give a majority of this country FOUR chances to vote against a Bush!
    Should HRC decide to run, and as of now, I can't see her NOT getting the nomination. Nor do I see her not winning. As to two families dominating the Presidency, folks seem to forget that during the first four decades under the Constitution, two Presidents were the first of the, so far, two father/son occupants of the White House and the remaining four were all from the same state and the same generation.
    The only regret I have about a possible HRC run, nomination and Presidency, is'nt about drafting so many occupants of the Oval Office from two families, but that the RWNJs heads WON'T really and truly explode!
    Pity, that...

  • c u n d gulag on December 13, 2012 4:52 PM:

    GOP POV:
    Not contest HRC's Presidential aspirations like it was the end of the world?
    HA!!!

    We will do everything we possibly can to prevent that Lesbian Vampire Werewolf Beeyotch, who had an affair with Vince Foster, shot him dead, ate his heart, and then consumed other body parts which her Warlock husband police were sworn upon the pain of death never to disclose, from being President!!!

    The only thing worse than that KenyanSocialistFascistCommunistHeathenMuslim Usurper, is a LesbianVampireWerewolfSocialistFasistCommunistHeathen Usurper!!!

    OH! THE HUMANITIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • boatboy_srq on December 13, 2012 5:00 PM:

    Two thoughts:

    1) HRC would be vehemently opposed in a run for school board, let alone President. Even Ted Kennedy would have faced less resistance from the Reichwing.

    2) To the GOTea, there are right-thinking, Righteous™, upstanding, Patriotic™ Ahmurrcan candidates for public office - and then there are Democrats. One look at what they've done with BHO's Presidency (effective and remarkably scandal-free) should tell anyone that. So it really doesn't matter who runs in 2016, the GOTea will find some reason to paint that candidate as the antiChrist.

  • g on December 13, 2012 5:02 PM:

    You will see the Republicans totally vilify Hillary. And if she wins, and runs for a second term, you will see them all develop collective amnesia, and profess their nostalgia for the good old "bipartisan" days of Barack Obama as contrasted with the radical, Communist-lesbian regime they will characterize Hillary Clinton as.

  • g on December 13, 2012 5:04 PM:

    You will see the Republicans totally vilify Hillary. And if she wins, and runs for a second term, you will see them all develop collective amnesia, and profess their nostalgia for the good old "bipartisan" days of Barack Obama as contrasted with the radical, Communist-lesbian regime they will characterize Hillary Clinton as.

  • hornblower on December 13, 2012 5:42 PM:

    The election is over. Away with all this speculation. There must be something else to talk about.

  • JGH on December 13, 2012 5:57 PM:

    I guess I would be part of what is called the left. I don't particularly like dynastic families or the DLC. I would prefer a fresh face, male or female, with somewhat more leftward leanings. Persuadable voters are mostly morons, so why not go a little to the left? And the tendency to have so many candidates of an age that they would be forcefully retired from flying a plane is a little fascinating.

  • Teapartycat on December 13, 2012 10:36 PM:

    Oh, Benghazi isn't over just because Susan Rice withdrew. The GOP intends to hang it on Hillary in 2016 should she run.

  • Thisby on December 13, 2012 11:44 PM:

    I love Hillary. I think she would have made a wonderful president. However, I supported Obama in 2008 because I knew the Repubs would make hay over all of their anti-Clinton lies and would destroy not only the election but also the reputation of a fine public servant. Nothing has changed since then, except that the right wing has gotten even more vicious. They wouldn't pull any punches next time.

    Hillary has served her country very well for many years. She doesn't need to prove anything by running headfirst into a buzzsaw in 2016. She would make a great member of the Supreme Court, but it is more to our advantage if the president appoints younger people who can preserve the progressive point of view for more years.

    In other words, Hillary is too old for this speculation, and that is not a criticism, it is just a fact. Why would we send her up as a blood sacrifice at this point in her career?