Many Republicans have said that they are eager to run a general-election campaign against Hillary Clinton, describing her as a highly polarizing candidate who would unite and energize the opposition. But, as of now, Clinton appears to be no more polarizing than other leading Democratic contenders. Nor is there a potential Republican nominee who appears significantly less polarizing.
Forty-one percent of those surveyed said they definitely would not vote for Clinton in the general election if she were the Democratic nominee, one of the lowest "reject rates" among the leading candidates in either of the two major parties.
Why do I doubt this? Two things: that poll was strange; and I remember what it was like to have her wield national power (having never been elected to anything) for eight years. I think people's memories have faded or understandably been colored rose by the Bush nightmare. In which case, next year will be a refresher course. A reader explains for me:
Those who say the right will cook up a narrative about Obama just as poisonous and effective as the right's Hillary narrative are wrong. Poisonous, yes; effective, no.
I just had dinner with my father, and for several years I've avoided talking politics with him; he's a highly intelligent man but he became a neocon 30 years ago and then to my horror a regular Limbaugh listener.
He belittles every candidate I've liked by spitting out the Limbaugh-dictated putdown or some close variant thereof. Anyways, we were forced to talk politics because a friend noticed us and came up to our table and mentioned I am an Obama supporter. I was expecting some anti-Obama venom from my father, of the kind your emailer said would be inevitable, but it did not happen. Predictably, my father's going to vote for Giuliani. But he agreed with that Peggy Noonan column from a few days ago saying that Obama is genuine and thoughtful, and he thinks he's the only Democrat who can avoid being effectively savaged by Limbaugh and the talk radio world because he thinks their insults don't stick to Obama the way they stick to Hillary.
Unscientific, I admit. But when you realize what a hold Limbaugh has over his dittoheads, it's worth noting that they agree with every word he says about Hillary but they can't help liking Obama. The reason, I think, is simple. There is an element of truth in the talk radio right's portrayal of Hillary as a smug, self-righteous, phoney. Liberals and Hillary admirers hate to hear that, but it's true--an element of truth obscured by a whole mountain of b.s. There is not, however, even a grain of truth in the Hannity/Limbaugh Obama slurs to date. The Obama/Madrassah slur won't stick because it is not only not true; it's not even "truthy." Obama is obviously a humanist in the best sense of that word and thus the polar opposite of a Madrassa fanatic. Nor will the Obama-champion-of-Afrocentric-black-power because-he-attends-a-church-whose-minister-has-those-leanings slur stick. To the contrary, it seems extremely likely to me that if Obama steals the nomination from Hillary, a huge cross-section of the country will fall in love with him as a person, either right then and there or after his acceptance speech. That cross section will include conservatives who won't vote for him but will still like him as a human being. Even those who think this scenario is not highly probable would acknowledge it is more than possible. And if they are being honest with themselves, they have to admit that It is simply not possible for Hillary to generate that kind of reaction. She may well win, but even if she does, most of the 49 or 48% who vote for her opponent will walk into the voting booth detesting her and will promptly come to detest her even more after her triumphal inaugural speech and ceremonies. If Obama can pull off a victory, there will be an entirely different vibe.