Last Thursday’s Washington Post poll convinced a lot of people that Hilary Clinton is probably going to win against Rudy Giuliani. The Post‘s hypothetical matchup between Clinton and Giuliani showed Hilary leading Rudy 51 percent to 43 percent. A legislator was recently quoted by Peggy Noonan as saying that “it’s all over but the voting.”
The problem for me (for many lefties) is that Hilary Clinton will almost certainly polarize more ferociously and draw more hate (and God knows what else) than Barack Obama would. Hilary might win, but Obama would be a better candidate, a better uniter and a better consensus-builder. We all know that what a rancid, butt-ugly general campaign it will likely be next summer and fall if it comes down to Hilary vs. Rudy. And I shudder to think what the right-wing crazies will throw at Clinton once she (presumably) lands the nomination.
Two worrisome thoughts, one voiced by elrapierwit on Kevin Drum‘s Washington Monthly blog (i.e. “Political Animal”) and a reader quoted on Andrew Sullivan‘s Atlantic Monthly blog.
The Sullivan reader addresses the Obama-regarded-by-righties factor: “Those who say the right will cook up a narrative about Obama just as poisonous and effective as the right’s Hillary narrative are wrong. Poisonous, yes; effective, no.
“I just had dinner with my father, and for several years I’ve avoided talking politics with him; he’s a highly intelligent man but he became a neocon 30 years ago and then, to my horror, a regular Limbaugh listener.
“He belittles every candidate I’ve liked by spitting out the Limbaugh-dictated putdown or some close variant thereof. Anyways, we were forced to talk politics because a friend noticed us and came up to our table and mentioned I am an Obama supporter. I was expecting some anti-Obama venom from my father, but it did not happen.
Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Rudolph Giuliani
“Predictably, my father’s going to vote for Giuliani. But he agreed with that Peggy Noonan column from a few days ago saying that Obama is genuine and thoughtful, and he thinks he’s the only Democrat who can avoid being effectively savaged by Limbaugh and the talk-radio world because he thinks their insults don’t stick to Obama the way they stick to Hillary.
“Unscientific, I admit. But when you realize what a hold Limbaugh has over his dittoheads, it’s worth noting that they agree with every word he says about Hillary but they can’t help liking Obama. The reason, I think, is simple. There is an element of truth in the talk radio right’s portrayal of Hillary as a smug, self-righteous, phoney. Liberals and Hillary admirers hate to hear that, but it’s true — an element of truth obscured by a whole mountain of b.s.
“There is not, however, even a grain of truth in the Hannity/Limbaugh Obama slurs to date. The Obama/Madrassah slur won’t stick because it is not only not true; it’s not even ‘truthy.’ Obama is obviously a humanist in the best sense of that word and thus the polar opposite of a Madrassa fanatic. Nor will the slur stick about Obama being a champion of Afrocentric black power because he attends a church whose minister has those leanings.
“To the contrary, it seems extremely likely to me that if Obama steals the nomination from Hillary, a huge cross-section of the country will fall in love with him as a person, either right then and there or after his acceptance speech. That cross section will include conservatives who won’t vote for him but will still like him as a human being. Even those who think this scenario is not highly probable would acknowledge it is more than possible.
“And if they are being honest with themselves, they have to admit that It is simply not possible for Hillary to generate that kind of reaction. She may well win, but even if she does, most of the 49 or 48% who vote for her opponent will walk into the voting booth detesting her and will promptly come to detest her even more after her triumphal inaugural speech and ceremonies. If Obama can pull off a victory, there will be an entirely different vibe.”
El Rapier‘s comment: “[The] assertion that Hillary [has been] ‘made polarizing’ by the right is completely specious. No one can make an individual polarizing. Hillary is polarizing because she confuses power with leadership and is unable to create and build consensus within a diverse group of thinkers. That is why she is polarizing. She tries to drive issues without building a winning coalition.
“All you have to do is look at how she managed the proposed Clinton healthcare plan in the ’90s. It was a ‘my way or no way’ because she thought she had the power as First Lady to drive the agenda on her own terms without taking into consideration what the needs of others were.
“No one told Hillary to divide 500 people into 34 committees and demand they not say anything outside of the meeting nor take notes in the meeting. The right did not make her do that.
“No one told Hillary to take the fight to the Supreme Court on her terms for secrecy. Hillary conceived all of that on her own and she believed she had the power to force her ideas and agenda on others. The right did not make her do that. She simply lacked leadership and the ability to persuade others to the validity of her proposals.
“Hillary is far more polarizing than any other politician during her political era. She in fact is going to be a reason for all the old partisian bickering and long standing grudges to come back to the fore meaning nothing will be accomplished.
“Hillary has told people during her campaign for the Presidency that those not on board with her now will pay when she is the nominee. A hallmark trait of a vengeful politician not a leader.
“So nothing has changed. She is a fighter and a brawler. She is not a leader.”