alien & sedition.
Monday, February 19, 2007
  Maybe the VRWC Just Isn't Feeling It Anymore?

So you've probably read the big article at the Times about how the professional Hillary Haters of yesteryear may not be so ginned up for a fight this time around. Richard Mellon-Scaife, for instance, will no longer be willing to throw down millions of dollars for sleazy "investigations." His partner in crime, Christopher Ruddy, explains one of the reasons why:
Clinton wasn’t such a bad president,” Mr. Ruddy said. “In fact, he was a pretty good president in a lot of ways, and Dick feels that way today.”
Sometimes a little perspective helps, I guess.

Meanwhile, Arkansas scandal-monger Cliff Jackson is "burned out" on all the hate, and other conservatives suggest that the proliferation of anti-Hitlery kitsch doesn't necessarily indicate a new groundswell of Clinton-hating mania:
To judge by conservative talk radio, Mrs. Clinton appears to be the most reviled politician in the country. But others in the conservative movement say it is easy to be deceived by what is on the airwaves and by the marketing of anti-Clinton paraphernalia, books and movies. (Among items on sale at conservative Web sites: “No Way in Hellary” barbecue aprons; “Hillary Scares Me” baby onesies; and buttons that say simply “Hillary Hater.”)

For every conservative who says Mrs. Clinton will feel the wrath of the movement’s grass-roots organizers later in the campaign, particularly if she becomes her party’s nominee, another expresses doubt that Clinton foes can ever be revved up as they once were.
To some extent, I'm skeptical: a lot of these people are the me-too mini-bullies of the schoolyard, happy to repeat the nasty taunts long after the originators have grown bored with the exercise. But what's particularly interesting about the article is how it starts to point toward a contradiction between the popular claim that Hillary Clinton is the one thing that can unite the conservative movement, and, on the other hand, the actual record:
National efforts to raise money to stop Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaigns in New York in 2000 and 2006 never got off the ground. Nor did plans to raise money for a “counter-Clinton” library in Little Rock. And conservatives note to their consternation that at the moment the woman they treat as the incarnation of 1960s liberalism appears to be campaigning as the least liberal of the Democratic front-runners.
We were, of course, promised that Hillary's Senate re-election campaign would be D-Day for national conservatives' efforts to "stop her now," before she could gather steam for a presidential run. Instead, she simply steamrolled a hapless opponent.

Of course, the paradox of the conservative line of assault on Hillary is that, the stronger she is, the better it can work: when you are accused of being "a power-hungry opportunist," your own political success can be used against you. Still, I don't doubt that Hillary actually benefits from the hatred: it's well understood how she uses the specter of the VRWC to raise money, and at this point she has got to be the candidate most thoroughly innoculated against right-wing attacks. If conservatives are burnt out on the attempts to take Hillary down, maybe it's because they've noticed that that which hasn't killed her, has only made her stronger.

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Critical analysis of the American conservative movement from a progressive perspective. Also some stuff about the Mets.


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