The Demise of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

What happened? The presumptive coronation of Hillary Rodham Clinton as the first woman President of the United States now lies in the ashes of ruin and defeat. The feared Clinton political machine — complete with its attack squads and character assassins — proved to be largely ineffective. The former “co-president”, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the person with “thirty-five years of public service, experience and accomplishments,” the “most qualified woman” in America, the “certifiably smartest person” in the presidential race, has been rejected by her own party. The very party that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, re-made for their own purposes. The very party that supposedly has been preparing for eight years for the triumphant return of the “golden years” of the Clintons’ presidency.And who beat this super-candidate? Well, basically, a nobody. A first term senator from Illinois. A member of Congress so junior that the “lion of the Senate”, Ted Kennedy, couldn’t even pronounce his name for months after taking office. A person so new to the national political scene that nobody can find an accomplishment or a mistake by which to take his measure. A blank slate upon which everyone seems to want to write his or her own desires and expectations. I doubt that Barak Obama is as virtuous as the left would have us believe, or as dangerous as the right asserts. But this isn’t about Obama; it’s about the stunning collapse of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

What happened?

There is probably no way to know exactly because the whole of the electoral process remains, appropriately, subject to the whim and caprice of voters in the privacy of the voting booth. We have seen time after time in this election season that pre-election polls and exit polls were off the mark — not by a little but by a lot. Since these pollsters use basically the same techniques that proved reliable in previous elections, we can safely assume that the American public is finally quite willing to lie to pollsters and reporters in response to what is perceived to be an intrusion on a private right — a right to a secret ballot.

So, any analysis of the Clintons’ collapse is primarily subjective — subjective but sprinkled with anecdotal evidence. So let’s take a stab at deciphering what happened.

People simply did not like Hillary Clinton. Her negatives in national polls started in the low forties and grew to nearly fifty percent. These were polls of all voters, Democrats, Republicans and independents. A large majority of those with negative views of Sen. Clinton would not vote for her under any circumstances. In three way races between her, Edwards and Obama, she rarely won over thirty-five percent of the vote. In head to head competition with Obama after Edwards dropped out she lost the vast majority of those elections. Even where she won, either at the polls or in caucuses, the measure of victory was so minimal that under party rules her opponents wound up with virtually the same number of delegates as her. There are those who wonder whether Obama’s popularity is based on his being Obama or his not being a Clinton.

The dislike of Sen. Clinton arises out of both the coldness of her personality and her transparent and ruthless ambition. Media accounts and the internet are filled with stories of Sen. Clinton’s treatment of staff, security personnel, and others — she apparently has a mean spirited temper and a mouth like a longshoreman. There is a palpable lack of sincerity in virtually every response she makes, everything from her allegiance to a baseball team to her lapses into a Southern, Western, or African-American patois when pandering to those identifiable groups. Public displays of emotion appear to be calculated rather than spontaneous. And finally, her absence of outrage at the serial philandering of her husband suggests that she has suppressed normal emotions in furtherance of ambition. It would seem that her care for Chelsea is the only honest response she can make.

Payback. There is a degree of payback in the defeat of the Clintons. The ruthlessness of the Clinton political machine was not confined to Republicans. It was used both pointedly and surreptitiously on a variety of Democrats. Al Gore may have lost his presidential bid because he refused to run as “Clinton lite”, preferring to talk about his own ideas and plans rather than spending his time praising the reign of Bill Clinton. Similarly there was a lack of support by the Clintons for John Kerry with the assumption being that a first term for Kerry would inevitably lead to a second term and thus delay Hillary’s planned ascendancy to the presidency. Kerry’s endorsement of Obama is seen by many as payback to the Clintons for their lack of effort in his campaign. Politicians have long memories — particularly of real and perceived slights — and they routinely believe in the old saw that revenge is a dish best served cold.

The Clinton attack machine has made runs at Obama but have failed. Hillary has run the gamut from assured campaigner, to outraged woman, to tearful victim, to condescending shrew but cannot find a “character” that resonates with voters. But under pressure, always, she resorts to combative, fist pounding, demanding grand dame and people simply don’t like it.

There is even speculation that Bill did her in. Bill Clinton is probably the best politician that America has ever seen — not the best president, the best politician. Someone of that stature does not make mistakes like denigrating an African American’s ambitions as a “fairy tale” or comparing Obama to a race hustler like Jesse Jackson. He doesn’t spend his time on the campaign trail talking about himself rather than his wife, the candidate. He doesn’t act in a manner the reminds voters of the dysfunctionality of the Clintons during their previous eight-year term. Bill Clinton remains committed to the grooming of his own legacy. He recognizes that the mere fact that Hillary would become the first female president — regardless of her accomplishments — would eclipse his presidency. The defeat of Hillary protects his legacy.

And finally there is simply dynasty fatigue. Eight years of the Bush presidency has not endeared voters to the worthiness of political dynasties. The idea of trading a Bush dynasty for a Clinton dynasty simply rubs people the wrong way. While, at times, it appeared that being a Clinton was Hillary’s major asset, it also turns out to be her major liability.

In the end, we are left to speculate as to the cause or causes of her defeat. One can only hope that the Clintons now fade gracefully into the sunset and that we are not forced to confront that period of politics again. The one part of this that bothers me, however, is that there is a remarkable similarity to another defeated candidate and his eventual resurrection and election as president years later — Richard Nixon. There are similarities in the personalities and ruthlessness of Richard Nixon and Hillary Clinton. Let’s hope that the American public doesn’t make that mistake a second time.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn Post to Reddit

Posted by at 09:54 | Posted in Measure 37 | 18 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • steve

    …that the American pubic is finally quite willing to lie to pollsters and reporters in response to what is perceived to be an intrusion on a private right

  • Bob Clark

    Bill Clinton was kind of fun to have as president. Eventhough you knew something devious was going on when he talked, his charm just kind of made you put your skepticism a way. But Hillary was never much fun when she was first lady because you got the sense she wanted revenge against the white male professional worker for the percieved injustices he wrought against white females. What’s funny is Obama and his wife seem to be a very similar tag team. Obama’s wife’s speeches focus on perceived injustices, and again I get the feeling she resents certain groups of people. It discouraging to think I’m likely to get another 8 years of the first lady dragging me and my cohorts over the coals for some perceived injustice I don’t personally feel apart.

  • Jerry

    Does anyone really care anymore about this dynamic duo??
    I sure don’t.

  • John Fairplay

    Nixon was only 43 years old when he lost the 1960 election. After 8 years in the wilderness, Hillary will be pushing 70. These days that is certainly not too old to be President, but will America be looking for a hectoring President at that time?

    My view is that her vote in favor of the Iraq war has done as much to kill her candidacy as anything else. The folks that vote in Democrat primaries are the pure Socialist, anti-war, Greenpeace kooks and I am certain that vote is never far from their minds.

    I think her only chance to win now is to lay out her husband’s infidelities in detail and denounce him publicly. She would immediately win back all the women’s votes she’s lost due to her lack of backbone on this issue.

  • Jerry

    Her Ohio lead is vanishing. My oh my, whatever will she do???

  • eagle eye

    Now the Republicans have to worry about Obama. They would be better off with Hillary. Read Steven Hayes piece in the Wall St. Journal today.


      Its not over yet, I think Hillary may have a trick or two let up her sleeve.

      • CRAWDUDE

        Oops, “left”

      • eagle eye

        You may be right. I hope so. I think she would be easier to beat than Obama. Who could be real trouble. And some of the stuff I read about him is really disturbing.

      • Harry

        Your both right. McCain woulda trounced her… (well, she woulda trounced herself).

        But don’t count her out yet. She may be negotiating a cease fire twofer with the Bama as we speak. “Pick me as your VP spot, and together we will win in a landslide, Bama!” (while I stab you in the back until you DIE DIE DIE, and I take over and rule the world that is MINE MINE MINE!)

  • dmf

    I would not usually pass on links to websites, but I found this interesting. It is about Obama. Interesting reading. Not good, but interesting.

  • dean

    HIllary unlikable? She is downright frightening to many on the right. Why this is so remains a mystery to me. i suspect it is because the only thing that stood between movement conservatives radical agenda and its delivery in the 90s was the Clintons. but Bill should get the blame for that, not Hill.

    HIll’s personality is not “cold.” it is “hardened,” and thus comes across as calculated. Would one refer to any male politician as “cold?” I don’t think so. Yes, she is ambitous. Who running for President is not ambitous? Well, there was Fred Thompson, but that did not get him far.

    “Mean spirited?” “Mouth like a longshoreman?” What about Cheney, who very publicly told a Senator from the other party to F*** off? What about McCain, whose temper and foul mouth is legendary? Again…are you really worried about an angry woman who dares to swear? I heard this described recently as, when dad is mad we get worried, but when mom loses it, then we know things are really bad.

    Well grow up.

    Bob C…that is a heck of a conclusion you drew from Hillary as first lady. What is it based on? Did she propose cutting your pay?

    John F…do you really believe that only the farthest left of the Democrats have voted in these primaries? Have you checked the record turnout numbers? And if only the far left voted, why didn’t Kucinich do better? Obama is hardly the far left candidate of choice.

    Bottom line is that Senator Obama is a better organized candidate with a compelling personal story, a captivating style, and he has caught a wave of a frustrated public. On paper he should have been dispatched early on, but he appears to be the real deal. Should be an interesting election and next 4 years.

    Don’t you all find it at least a bit ironic that McCain of all people is now the only hope of the right to cling to a small thread of national power, when you had the whole enchilada a mere year and a half ago?

  • Dan E.

    Inasmuch as I would prefer HRC as a candidate to beat in the General, it is my long-term desire that she be defeated in the Primary. If it’s a Republican that beats her, she will default to that comfortable role of “victim.” She will be able to blame her defeat on the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy once more and we will be forced to deal with her again and again. Moreover, she will hold tremendous power in the Senate and will likely be a rallying point for all Democrats, and an absolute pain for a sitting Republican president.

    HOWEVER, if she can be beaten in the primary by Obama, she is denied the victim status. She would be crushed by her own people, her own party. No one to blame. No one to demonize. Hoisted upon her own petard.

    Make no mistake, I think Obama is a formidible candidate. His lack of a record, his blank canvas, as Larry points out, is a remarkable, Protean quality. People will be able to create him in their minds as whatever they want in a candidate. Such formlessness is a difficult target to hit in a campaign, and his inspirational eloquence, while lacking substance, also inherently lacks divisiveness. Attempts to point out those differences come with a price of negativity and some resulting electoral scorn.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      “Such formlessness is a difficult target to hit in a campaign, and his inspirational eloquence, while lacking substance, also inherently lacks divisiveness.”

      I gotta tell you, that is a brilliant way to put it.

  • Jerry

    If only Hillary will pick Wesley Clark as VP – then we will all be saved.

    • dean

      Hill can’t pick a VP unless she wins the nomination, and that looks unlikely Jerry.

      Yes, Obama is inspirational and eloquent. Formless? I don’t think so. Certainly no more so than Reagan’s “City on a Hill” stump speech. Bush did something similar with “compassionate conservatism.”

      Obama is simply calling on our better angels. And he does so from behind a compelling personal story. He manages to connect across a lot of previous lines of demarcation. He is a pragmatic problem solver from a left of center perspective, not an ideologue with a pre-positioned program. Hillary is the same, but with too much baggage to make the sale.

      And Obama is very skilled at political rope-a-dope akido. That is, doging, deflecting, or simply absorbing attacks while the opponent wears herself out tossing increasingly desperate haymakers.

      McCain is going to look very old, very tired, very yesterday. Too bad, because in 2000 he was the best man for the job. But his time has passed, and with 2 wars ongoing we are not going to elect an ex fighter pilot who sings: “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.”

  • Jerry

    But surely the smartest woman in the world can’t possiby lose…can she?

    • dean

      Jerry…well, if one of the dumbest intellects around (Bush) could get himself elected, then yes, one of the smartest (Clinton) could lose. Intellect iunfortunately has not proven to be a primary requirement for the Presidency. Being someone people feel they would like to “share a beer with” has more purchase.

Stay Tuned...

Stay up to date with the latest political news and commentary from Oregon Catalyst through daily email updates:

Prefer another subscription option? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, become a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Twitter Facebook

No Thanks (close this box)