One Sided Polarization

by digby

Kevin Drum deftly dispatches this Village nonsense about Clinton's polarizing candidacy being particularly toxic especially if she goes up against Giuliani:

But there's a huge difference here. A guy like Giuliani is polarizing because he actively chooses to be. It's part of his persona. He wants people to hate him.

Hillary, by contrast, is polarizing not because she wants to be, but because the right-wing attack machine made her that way. She's "polarizing" only because a certain deranged slice of conservative nutjobs detest her.

And guess what? By this standard, Jimmy Carter is polarizing. Bill Clinton is polarizing. Al Gore is polarizing. John Kerry is polarizing. Do you see the trend here?

There are plenty of good reasons to oppose Hillary Clinton. But anyone who opposes her because she's polarizing is allowing the bottom feeders of modern movement conservativism to dictate who gets to run for president and who doesn't. If we want less polarizing politics, the answer isn't to oppose Hillary Clinton, who, outside the cartoon universe invented by the Wall Street Journal editorial page, holds almost relentlessly orthodox center-left opinions and expresses them in relentlessly garden-variety politician-speak. The answer is to send the right-wing rage machine back under the rock it crawled out from. Anything else is just caving in to bullies.

I would just add that allowing the Village stenographers to pick our presidents lets them off the hook too. They happily join with the neanderthals in carrying these little prophesies into the mainstream. We should not let gossipy junior high backstabbers dictate who our candidates should be either. I don't give a damn if they think Al Gore is a stiff or think that Hillary is bitch or whatever. Nobody elected them to anything. They don't represent anyone but themselves as this poll shows.

Giuliani could theoretically be a transcendent politican in 2008. He's a rare northeastern blue state Republican with all kinds of signifiers that should appeal to independents and Democrats. He was mayor of New York City, for crying out loud. But the Republican base forces every candidate to become polarizing because that's what they like in a candidate. Indeed, that's why Giuliani is doing so well --- he's a nasty piece of work and they can sense it. Their movement is based upon rabid partisan hatred of liberals/Democrats/blacks/"immigrants" and whatever other "other" they've targeted today. It's their fundamental organizing principle.

I have no doubt that Hillary will be polarizing, but it will come from the abject hatred any Democrat inspires on the right (although the fact that she's a woman probably add a little frisson to their loathing.) Look at what they did the John Kerry. Hell, they impeached her husband, a centrist good old boy who advanced a fair portion of their agenda in the name of bipartisan comity. They will loathe and despise Obama, Edwards, Richardson, Dodd or any of the rest with just as much fervor. It's what they do.

(And, by the way, it doesn't matter whether any Dem moves so far to the right that they could give Inhofe a run for his money, the media and the right wing press will portray them as an "ultra-liberal" in thrall to the MoveOn communists. They do that too. There's no sense in changing positions on the issues to try to thread that needle. It's impossible.)

There a many good reasons to be wary of Clinton's candidacy and worry about whether she's the right person for the job in 2008. This isn't one of them and it shows a tremendous weakness of will on our side to even think about it in those terms. As Kevin said, "The answer is to send the right-wing rage machine back under the rock it crawled out from. Anything else is just caving in to bullies."

I'm so sick of caving in to bullies.