Ready or not, here comes Hillary
By Michael M. Bates
Mrs. Clinton is playing it coy. For the time being, she says, she's just running for re-election to the Senate. Plans for a presidential race aren't yet stirring through her pretty little head. She may be telling the truth. Stranger things have happened I guess. But it looks like the mainstream media is preparing to do what it can to grease the skids for her candidacy.
A recent Chicago Tribune ran on its front page, "Hillary: New York state has embraced her. Will the rest of the country if she runs for president?"
Interviewed for the article was the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. His evaluation: "19 percent (of those polled) think, right now, that she's doing a poor job. The Hillary-haters are still there. The people who were willing to give her a chance, she won over."
Also quoted is a Baruch College professor who notes, "There's going to be an irreducible number of Hillary-haters, no matter what she does. Whether she changes water into wine or parts the Red Sea, they ain't voting for her."
The Tribune article then continues: "No one may know how many Hillary-haters are out there. . . "
The term Hillary-hater is an update of the wildly fashionable Clinton-hater. The latter generally applied to those opposed to Bill for any reason. You weren't a Clinton opponent or foe or antagonist or adversary. You were a Clinton-hater. The newer version has alliteration going for it and maintains the fiction that personal animosity drives any opposition to either of the two-for-the-price-of-one couple. The mainstream media and some academics are reluctant to admit there are substantive policy reasons to oppose Mrs. Clinton.
Her votes in the Senate, for example. Taxpayer organizations rank her in the single digits. She receives 100 percent ratings from pro-abortion groups. Other liberal special-interests such as the AFL-CIO, the National Education Association and the American Civil Liberties Union are enthusiastic about her record.
The respected, nonpartisan National Journal found that in 2005 Mrs. Clinton voted more liberal on economic, defense and foreign policy issues than 80 percent of the Senate. She voted more liberal on social policy issues than 83 percent of the Senate.
As expected, the Chicago Tribune isn't the only major news outlet pumping up Mrs. Clinton's march to the presidency. Last week the New York Times did a piece on the state of the Clintons' marriage. It notes that the duo isn't seen in public very often and this could be a problem for the 2008 campaign.
Staffers, of course, offered an explanation. Both Mr. and Mrs. Clinton lead extraordinarily busy lives. Still, they spend as much time as possible together, sometimes gardening or playing Scrabble. Have mercy. This is reminiscent of the 90s, shortly after Bill's peccadillo with a White House intern surfaced, when Mrs. Clinton told an interviewer how very close she and her husband still were:
"We talk. We talk in the solarium, in the bedroom, in the kitchen. It's just constant conversation." Keeping a straight face while saying this was testimony to how fiercely she wanted to stay in the White House.
My speculation is their media pals recognize that the Clintons' separate lives could trouble some voters. By bringing it up early, Hillary is inoculated from further discussion of the matter. I can almost hear James Carville declaring the subject old news that's already been beaten to death.
Then we have media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News and the New York Post, holding a fundraiser for Mrs. Clinton soon. Obviously, she needs the help. She only has an estimated $20 million or more on hand. Fox News has long been viciously accused of slanting its reporting to the right. I don't believe the charge has merit. Still, does the boss hopping on the Clinton bandwagon mean that news from his outlets regarding her will be even more "fair and balanced" than it's been?
Certainly it's possible that the Hillary Express could be derailed long before 2008. Right now, however, it appears as though she might get by with a little help from her mainstream media friends.
Mike Bates is the author of Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths. This appeared in the May 25, 2006 Oak Lawn Reporter.
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