Monday, February 19, 2007

Conservative Activists Will Swiftboat Hillary Clinton

An article in today's New York Times argues that some of Hillary Clinton's top foes from the earlier days of the alleged "vast right wing conspiracy" have relaxed their opposition and are planning no major media campaigns against Clinton's White House bid:

To judge by conservative talk radio, Mrs. Clinton appears to be the most reviled politician in the country. But others in the conservative movement say it is easy to be deceived by what is on the airwaves and by the marketing of anti-Clinton paraphernalia, books and movies. (Among items on sale at conservative Web sites: “No Way in Hellary” barbecue aprons; “Hillary Scares Me” baby onesies; and buttons that say simply “Hillary Hater.”)

For every conservative who says Mrs. Clinton will feel the wrath of the movement’s grass-roots organizers later in the campaign, particularly if she becomes her party’s nominee, another expresses doubt that Clinton foes can ever be revved up as they once were.

Some of her former antagonists say that terrorism and war have made the political battles of her husband’s administration — gay men and lesbians in the military, the White House travel office, Monica Lewinsky — seem remote, if not trivial....

In contrast, Sunday's Los Angeles Times ran an article arguing that long-time conservative enemies of Clinton will indeed mount an aggressive "swiftboat" style media blitz against her campaign, with the hope of derailing her candidacy:

Old enemies of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are out in force. Just weeks after she joined the Democratic Party's flock of presidential contenders, Clinton is being targeted by conservative and Republican-allied activists intent on derailing her campaign before the start of next year's primaries.

They have surfaced with a flurry of planned projects: a Michael Moore-style documentary film, book-length exposes, and websites such as and

Conservative admirers of the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth media blitz that helped torpedo Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential candidacy in 2004 are now agitating to "Swift-boat" Clinton....

Every presidential candidate is scrutinized by opponents. But conservative antipathy toward Clinton is especially deep and long-standing — inflamed in part by her husband's two terms in the White House, her steady rise from first lady to senator, and the widespread belief on the right that the Clintons evaded justice during the nonstop investigations of the 1990s.

Clinton's foes on the right openly tell their supporters she is a ripe target for a campaign reminiscent of the challenge to Kerry's Vietnam War record.

"Those Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were the real heroes of the 2004 election," one online exhortation reads. "We at the StopHillaryPAC want to do the same thing to Hillary."
Take a look at both articles. It's an interesting question as to why the New York Times put a much less dramatic spin on the emerging GOP opposition to the Clinton campaign than did the Los Angeles Times. Both are liberal papers, but the New York Times has been particulary tough on the Bush administration and will likely put on kid gloves in its treatment of the Democratic presidential candidates throughout 2007 and 2008.

According to the Los Angeles Times piece, Hillary's fundraisers have used the specter of aggressively negative John Kerry-style ads against the Clinton campaign as a selling point for donations. Hillary's particularly vulnerable, of course. She remains the embodiment of 1960s-era liberalism the GOP activists loathe. Perhaps more significantly, her vote in favor of the Iraq War -- which she's now trying to finesse -- will serve as a major point of ire for the hard left base of the Democratic Party. Clinton runs the risk of being attacked as a "flip-flopper" just as hard as was John Kerry, whose campaign was fatally injured by his changing issue positions on the war.

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