Sunday, October 30, 2016

Demonizing Hillary

Hillary in 1993

Susan Faludi in the NY Times (How Hillary Clinton Met Satan):

It was my third day at the Republican National Convention in 1996, and my notebook overflowed with a one-note theme: “You do know that Hillary Clinton is funding the whole radical feminist agenda?” “She had Vince Foster killed.” “She’s behind many more murders than that.” “It’s well-established that Hillary Clinton belonged to a satanic cult, still does.” The consensus among Pat Buchanan’s supporters seemed ardent and universal, though the object of this obloquy wasn’t even on the opposing ticket.

One of the mysteries of 2016 is the degree to which Hillary Clinton is reviled. Not just rationally opposed but viscerally and instinctively hated. None of the stated reasons for the animus seem to satisfy. 

Yes, she’s careful and cagey, and her use of a private email server, which the F.B.I. flung back into the news on Friday, was a big mistake. But no, she’s not more dishonest than other politicians, and compared with her opponent, she’s George Washington. Her policies, even where bold, are hardly on the subversive fringe.

Yet she’s cast not just as a political combatant but as a demon who, in the imaginings of Republicans like Paul D. Ryan, the speaker of the House, and Representative Trent Franks, would create an America “where passion — the very stuff of life — is extinguished” (the former) and where fetuses would be destroyed “limb from limb” (the latter).

Donald J. Trump and his supporters posit their antipathy as a reaction to Mrs. Clinton’s accumulated record over “30 years in power"...A startling aspect of the rage that greeted Bill Clinton was how much of it was aimed at the women he entrusted — or tried to entrust — with power. 

When I was investigating one of the early skirmishes of the Clinton years, the burning of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Tex., which right-wingers attributed to Clinton’s F.B.I., I was treated to the fervent rants of “Patriot” men, aimed not at Mr. Clinton but at what I came to think of as the Three Witches of Waco: Attorney General Janet Reno (“Reno’s master is Satan,” a Third Continental Congress militiaman told me), the gun-control advocate Sarah Brady and, most of all, Hillary Clinton...

Even the supposedly liberal mainstream media still seek out any bit of evidence that can be chiseled to fit that prefab 1990s narrative — and if she denies the caricature, she’s called a liar. Her famous “hiddenness” is, at heart, her refusal to cop to the crime of purloined male authority...

The G.O.P.’s gender grudge feeds on its own defeat. As the culture moves further away from the conservative ideal — as women gain freedoms, minorities assert rights, same-sex marriage proves commonplace — the monster’s howls grow louder. But the howls say nothing new. This election is the decisive battle in a Thirty Years’ War...

The left needs to acknowledge what the right has long known: that it’s a fiction to think we can move on beyond the brawl of the 1990s without settling it — and settling it requires helping Mrs. Clinton triumph once and for all against the calumnies that were created to define her. 

It would be a mistake to think that Mrs. Clinton, the imperfect politician, is not the right standard-bearer for this fight. She was nominated to her role not last July at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, but in 1992, when her husband destroyed the myth of Republican invincibility and Hillary Clinton was anointed the feminine face of evil.

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