February 23rd, 2008

ozarque figure

Politics; the "Clinton hatred" question...

1950democrat had a question for me:
"You mentioned living in Arkansas during the Clintons' time in the Governors' office. Soon during the campaign, could you please give us a little idea of how the 'Hillary hatred' or 'Clinton hatred' got started. I heard it began during their Arkansas years."

I didn't have any personal experience of that hatred; I was a staunch supporter of the Clintons. I had no connections in the wealthy and powerful social circles where Clinton-hatred was a sort of consuming passion, and I knew almost nothing about the details of that passion. I didn't want Senator Clinton to run for president, but it wasn't because I hated her, it was because I was convinced that it was going to break her heart. I can, however, send you to two sources that will tell you the whole story.

Joe Conason and Gene Lyons wrote a book titled The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton; you'll find the first chapter of that book -- which starts with the Arkansas feuds -- at
http://nytimes.com/books/first/c/conason-president.html?_r=1&oref=slogin .

And Neil A. Lewis wrote a review of that book titled "Conspiracy Theories: Two reporters contend the campaign to discredit the Clintons was a plot," which is online at http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/04/09/reviews/000409.09lewist.html .

The review ends this way:

"Throughout, Conason and Lyons describe various people as having 'an abiding hatred' for Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton or both. Why has this couple evoked such strong feelings? Franklin D. Roosevelt stirred great hatreds: regarded by his enemies as a traitor to his class, he served as a folk devil for a whole generation. Richard M. Nixon was intensely disliked by many, but again for reasons that may be readily discerned, starting with his early days as a Redbaiter. The intensity of the hatred of so many for the Clintons is a mystery yet to be explored."

Speaking as an Ozarker, I don't think the "intensity of the hatred" is all that much of a mystery. In the worldview of the Clinton-haters, Bill Clinton didn't come from the class of people that are supposed to become successful politicians -- he wasn't gentry -- and his success infuriated them; Hillary Clinton was Bill Clinton's wife, and that was more than enough to make them willing to extend their hatred to her as well. It's a scenario that you see often enough in the Ozarks to make it sadly familiar.