Hillary Clinton Supporters Ask: ‘How’d She Lose to This Guy?’
Devoted Hillary supporters couldn't help looking back with regret as they watched their candidate suspend her campaign — wearing a black and blue outfit. Could things have turned out differently if the "fighting Hillary" of the last few months had shown up on day one instead of "inevitable Hillary"?
June 7, 2008 - 9:50 am
How’d Hillary Clinton lose to this guy?
Short answer: Hillary and her team didn’t think being Hillary was enough. They didn’t trust what this woman brought to the table all by herself. They thought attaching her candidacy to her husband’s presidency would get the job done. It didn’t work.
But first there was Iraq. Somewhere along the line, back in the Senate in 2002 or earlier, I believe, Hillary and her team decided you couldn’t win the general election being against a war. That went double if you were a woman. It evidently never occurred to them that they’d have to get the nomination first. No doubt she believed Saddam Hussein was a threat. But the core belief was that a woman voting against a war to oust Saddam, especially so soon after 9/11, would not be considered tough enough for commander-in-chief. It crippled her campaign from the start.
What if Hillary had voted against funding the war?
What if “Fighting Hillary” of the last few months had shown up on day one, replacing “inevitable Hillary”?
What if Robin Givhan’s cleavage column had never been written? That’s where it began for me. It was obvious that Hillary was about to get dissected on terms that her male counterparts were not. Happening simultaneously was the back and forth between Clinton and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman with the added gift of him being a former Cheney aide. When she dared to ask if they’d prepared a plan for redeployment, she got back a letter from Edelman stating “premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda.” Secretary Gates stepped in to do damage control, because a senator on the Armed Services Committee asking questions about redeployment plans, even if a woman, isn’t exactly asking for a recipe.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, in an interview with Bill Moyers, called the anti-Clinton media out. There was “the cackle” coverage: “Hens cackle. So do witches.” Pimpgate. The Clinton “nutcracker” sold in CNBC stores in airports. With the only left-leaning prime time news show host Keith Olbermann reduced to becoming the quintessential anti-Edward R. Murrow and a parody of himself as he degenerated into an unhinged special comment screamer. The big blogs got caught up in it and piled on too. Even David Gregory, one of the finest reporters around, reduced himself to doing a piece on his MSNBC show after Obama clinched the nomination that focused on Clinton’s “political obituary.” The first viable female candidate for president, who got more votes than anyone in Democratic Party primary history, was dissected, eviscerated, and humiliated for political sport, then pronounced dead.
All it did was make her supporters madder, more loyal, and less likely to support anyone but her.