Don't hate Hillary - Just defeat her

By Joe Schembrie
web posted May 22, 2000

The conservative visceral reaction toward Hillary Rodham Clinton is helping her to become a US Senator - and if we don't watch out, we'll make her President as well.

Certainly, she's come a long way for someone with such a modest resume. She got into Yale thanks to her family's money, she got into the Rose Law Firm trading on her husband's power, and her chief accomplishment during the White House years was not to mind adultery. Her political baggage is so bad, her campaign signs omit her last name.

Prudence decreed that she should never have run for the Senate, yet now she's ahead in the polls. Is it her world, and we're just living in it?

You have to credit her on her choice of opponents. Rudy Giuliani had enough to do running a city and campaigning for the Senate, and then there loomed a grueling treatment program for prostate cancer. But it's not the prostate, it's the sex. He got caught at adultery, and then had the insensitivity to inform his wife impersonally, through the media, of his plans for separation. Donna Hanover may not have been the last to know, but there were millions of strangers ahead of her. The divorce will be messy.

How does Hillary plan these things? Maybe she is the smartest woman in the world. Maybe her becoming President is only a matter of time.

Well, if that happens, I'm not so sure it'll be because she's so smart. More likely, it'll be because her opponents chose to emote rather than think at all.

For one thing, Hillary would never have accumulated twenty million dollars in campaign funds were it not that liberals know that she drives conservatives crazy. The money isn't coming because liberals love her; she's not a lovable person. Nor is the money coming because her husband is President - if anything, his lame-duck status and below-fifty-percent approval rating are actually detrimental. No, liberals rally to her support primarily because conservatives hate her so much.

In a very real sense, conservatives have made Hillary a star.

And no, Hillary did not pick Rudy Giuliani as her opponent - conservatives did. Conservatives gravitated toward Giuliani not despite but because of his left-leaning positions on abortion, guns, etc. They thought that his positions would isolate Hillary to a narrow, radical ideological fringe on the Left. They embraced Rudy's abrasiveness to counter Hillary's combativeness. They chose Rudy solely because they thought he could win. Conservatives were so obsessed with defeating Hillary that they even ignored Giuliani's endorsement of the Democratic candidate in the last election for New York governor - a sure sign that he could well switch party affiliation himself once in the Senate.

Someone in the conservative movement should have pondered whether a candidate so chameleon-like when it comes to political philosophy and loyalty might also be morally vacuous in his personal life as well. But conservatives only thought about winning. Ironically, by putting victory ahead of principle, they've lost yardage on both.

Conservatives can't do anything about Giuliani's astonishing lapse of judgment in parading his sex life before national media cameras, virtually asking to be caught. But conservatives can do something about their own lapses - particularly, in (a) obsessing so much about 'Senator Hillary' that she's become a national icon for liberals, and (b) in choosing a candidate not on the basis of principle or character, but simply because he's the 'Anti-Hillary.'

True, obsessing about Hillary is easy to do. Even as her husband conspired to perjure and obstruct justice, she lashed out at his critics, accusing them of engaging in a 'vast right-wing conspiracy.' During her dirty little campaign, she bloated the Diallo shooting tragedy into insinuations of a secret war of genocide by Mayor Giuliani against New York City's entire black population. And in the very assembly where she was coronated Democratic nominee for Senator, her supporters spat on a flag guard and called them 'nazis' for no other reason than they were bearing the Stars and Stripes. Given her Doberman disposition, Hillary could tear this country apart just by running for President, never mind winning.

To avoid such a prospect, conservatives need to rally behind a credible Senate candidate to replace Giuliani - someone with philosophical and moral conviction, who will campaign on issues rather than personality despite the temptations for retaliation.

Yeah, Hillary doesn't make it hard for conservatives to hate her. But letting emotion cloud their judgment is how conservatives have allowed her to come this far. Passion has its place, but winning at any cost is never a good idea - especially when the cost turns out to be defeat.

Joe Schembrie is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right.

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