Thursday, July 01, 2004

Hillary Bashing

Hillary Rodham Clinton is in a lot of wingnuts' nightmares, it seems, given the amount of negative publicity she attracts. Here is Robert Novak, for example:
On the June 29 edition of CNN's Crossfire, co-host and syndicated columnist Robert Novak again ridiculed Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) by calling her "Madame Defarge" -- a reference to a distasteful character from Charles Dickens's novel A Tale of Two Cities .
According to , a website that provides study guides for classic novels, Madame Defarge is "a cruel, vengeance-seeking agent of the [French] revolution ... [who] spends her days knitting a 'register' of names of people she has marked for death."
Novak went on to say that Senator Clinton's proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy "sound[ed] like communism." Pointing out that Hillary Clinton's title is "senator," Novak's Crossfire co-host Paul Begala defended Clinton against Novak's attacks:
NOVAK: For a while, I thought that Hillary Rodham Clinton was actually trying to be nice. What disappointing behavior that would be for Madame Defarge. But she has been back in form lately. This week, in San Francisco, where else, she vowed to defeat what she called the Republicans' extraordinarily ruthless campaign.
She told Democrats who paid up to $10,000 to attend that event that she was going to raise their taxes -- quote -- "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." Doesn't that sound like communism?
NOVAK: But it's probably what the rich San Francisco liberals want, and certainly what they deserve, even if they don't want it.
BEGALA: Well, what Senator Clinton -- and that is her title, Senator Clinton -- deserves is better than being called a communist and better than being compared to Madame Defarge, who the English majors here will know is the woman who sat and knitted while people were beheaded during the French revolution in the book A Tale of Two Cities.
I think, given what's happening in Iraq right now, it's a really unfortunate way to characterize one of the finest people in public life that I know. And I know you'll apologize for that unfortunate...
NOVAK: I'll tell you. Certainly, next time I talk about her, I'll call her senator. Will that make you happy?
BEGALA: What about Madame Defarge? That is kind of across the line. I mean, come on.
NOVAK: Well, not my line.

Robert Novak has a habit of calling Senator Clinton Madame Defarge. You'd think that he could find more variation; the literary canon is full of evil and power-hungry female characters. I hope that Robert stays off cheese and wine late at night. Maybe he will then dream something nicer and more creative.

Robert is not alone in his Hillary-obsession. She is hated out of all proportion to both her importance and anything that she has ever done.
She isn't even especially left-wing in her opinions, and she has been a good little senator during her term in office. What makes the wingnuts say things like this?:

In a Washington Times op-ed about former President Bill Clinton's memoir My Life, titled "Harry Potter and Bill Clinton: 'My Life' should be titled 'My Lie,'" Jack Wheeler, identified by The Washington Times as publisher of, asserted that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is bisexual.
Wheeler wrote of Bill Clinton's memoir:
All of that stuff about Hillary being mad, making him sleep on the couch, going to marriage counselors for a year, yada yada, is all made up. They have had a pact for decades: He gets to fool around with women, and she gets to fool around with women (plus the occasional man like Vince Foster).
Yes, she's bisexual -- I disclosed that in an infamous Strategic Investment column in January 1993, and Dick Morris publicly revealed it a few years ago. You knew that, right?

I know that there is a bizarre connection between being obsessed about sex and wingnuttiness, but it really gets sick when we add it to the stew of Hillary-bashing. Remember Limbaugh and the testicles in a lock-box?

There aren't enough psychiatrists in this country to tend to all those affected by the Hillary hatred. She is not just a communist but a fascist (!), not just a sexual adventurer but a woman who wants to castrate men (!). She is Hitlery, the all-powerful, all-evil woman who is going to get us all if we don't stay alert, fight our nightmares and every morning write them down carefully for publication.

I'm sick and tired of this. Hillary isn't that horrible or that wonderful. She is probably a pretty ordinary politician, but in the minds of so many she is the worst threat to Western civilization since Karl Marx. And the reason isn't that hard to figure out. She stands as a symbol for all the things that men like Novak fear in women: independence, power and refusal to play by his rules. Whether Hillary in fact is a feminist or not doesn't matter. She has become the mythological nightmare for all those who fear equality.