It Takes an Agenda

Conservatives (and libertarians) cannot live by Hillary-hate alone

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How have anti-Hillary Clinton groups, books and campaigns been faring this year? Not very well at all. What's that say about the state of the GOP, and what's it say about the conventional wisdom that the party's best hope is another Clinton nomination?

Read the whole thing in the American Conservative.

NEXT: Beato on Talk of the Nation

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  1. Sorry, didn’t read the article, but…

    I do love how Rush Limbaugh is hurting his crusade against the Clintons by trying to marginalize Hillary.

    Not than I’m any Hillary fan, but seeing Limbaugh shoot himself in the proverbial foot is quite pleasing…

  2. An interesting read, David. Thanks!

  3. The article makes the false assumption that the MSM wants to do what most consider to be their job. Their real job appears to be to usher in Ruuudy vs. Hillary, followed by ushering in Hillary.

    One of the better anti-Hillary arguments is probably dynasty.

    Of course, if the MSM were doing what most consider to be their job, they’d be discussing all the flaws in her policies.

    One way to reduce her popularity – and show up the MSM – would be if regular citizens took advantage of the huge opportunities to distribute real reporting:

    1. Go to a Hillary appearance and ask her this question about policy*.

    2. Upload and promote her response.

    * A vote on that failed today, and the latest versions may have removed the provision mentioned in the video. However, she supported that bill in its prior versions that included the provision mentioned in the video, so put it in the past tense: “you supported it when it did this”.

  4. Conservatives can use their hatred of Hillary to mobilize them if they they understand their own hatred of Hillary. Conservatives should sit down and ask themselves one simple question:

    Why do I hate Hillary?

    At that point, they’d be forced to answer with:

    o She’s pro Big-Government.
    o She believes there’s no limit to government’s ability and authority to meddle in people’s lives.

    Those two bullet-points are a great starting place for conservatives (GOP) to get their compass back. There are many more points, to be sure regarding taxes, nationalizing industires etc., but they’re merely sub-points of the two I listed above.

    Unfortunately for modern conservatives in the GWB mold, that would force them to do some soul-searching on their own Big Government forays into people’s lives and the private sector.

  5. I still argue that the first warning conservatives should have had about rise of Hillary and the withering fortunes of conservatives is when Hillary started agreeing with them on so many issues.

    I have one simple rule: If Hillary agrees with me on something, I re-examine my position.

  6. I find this a bit disgusting. Why can’t conservatives/libertarians stand for what they believe in and not what they hate? Of course, the same holds for the leftists. Otherwise, what we end up with a race to the bottom, where every group focuses the energy on defeating the opponent (let alone the opponents principles) instead of promoting one’s own principles (which will be bound to be forgotten and lost in due course).

  7. The problem Paul is that conservatives (GOP) appear not to be against big government. They’re against big Democratic run government. Big Republican run government is okey-dokey.

    There are a lot of vested interests in a team approach to politics that is interested in who’s winning and who’s losing. One of the advantages is that it means people aren’t actually concerned about outcomes.

  8. And while being on the amconmag, here is a good article on someone (and a whole bunch of principles) to stand up for as opposed to a person to stand up against.

  9. deron:

    What you say goes to the heart of my comment @ 6:23 above.

  10. Are you talking about anti-Hillary as an organized crusade, or as a sentiment? Because if you think it’s both, you might want to gander at the Rasmussen poll on good ol’ Hillary. She has a 47% favorable rating and a 51% unfavorable rating. So there’s more people who dislike her than like her. Throw in the electoral college funniness, and you’ve got a candidate that’s probably going to hand the white house to the next GOP nominee.

  11. Deron, that was my point. If conservatives try to understand– really understand they’re hatred of Hillary, they’d have what alcoholics call “a moment of clarity” and they just might return to their smaller government roots. If the GOP would do this, they’re empty hatred for Hillary could be turned into a principled stand for something, instead of merely being against Hillary.

    And really, that’s a good lesson for everyone. Periodically, all of us should re-examine why we hate something or someone so we can reacquaint ourselves with our own philosophical underpinnings. Otherwise, you’re just blathering on about Hillary or Karl Rove or MoveOn.org or George Bush without even knowing why.

    For gods sake, when I sit down and think about it, I find it hard to understand why the left hates GWB so much. Especially when they have far more in common with him than they ever did with Reagan.

  12. Somehow I typo’d “their” as “they’re” not once, but twice. Sorry.

  13. Anti-Hillary sentiment has already made this election season unbearable. If she is the candidate, I look forward to the GOP platform out-Hillary Hillary

  14. The GOP has two distinct problems, and I’m not sure Hillary bashing will work for both. The first problem is attracting moderates and us small-l libertarian types who’ve been driven away by two terms of Bush. If our choice is Rudy McRomney vs Clinton Part Deux, I’m not sure Hillary-hate will be enough to get especially libertarians to pull the lever for Republicans. Many might, as Weigel pointed out, abstain or lodge a protest 3rd party vote to punish the Republicans. For instance, I’m definitely in the 50+% who will never vote for Hillary, but I don’t think I could be convinced to vote for Mitt “Double Gitmo” Romney for instance. I’d rather aim for ideological retrenchment and a chance at flipping Congress back in 2010.

    The second problem the GOP has this year is turning out a demoralized base, especially evangelicals who’re leery of their choices. Here, a Hillary hate-in will actually help, because they’re already sold on The Latter Day Crusades bombing and torturing brown people the GWOT. Fear of Clinton may well be enough to get them to turn out in droves even though they’re less than enthusiastic. But will that be enough to win? I don’t know, but color me skeptical. Sigh.

  15. “Otherwise, what we end up with a race to the bottom, where every group focuses the energy on defeating the opponent (let alone the opponents principles) instead of promoting one’s own principles (which will be bound to be forgotten and lost in due course).”

    What if the very principle at issue is fighting a certain group of bad guys (as defined by oneself)? Then there’s no conflict!

    “For gods sake, when I sit down and think about it, I find it hard to understand why the left hates GWB so much. Especially when they have far more in common with him than they ever did with Reagan.”

    They hate GWB for the same reason that they would hate someone who steals their clothes while they’re swimming.

    It’s like the joke where Richard Nixon (who “lost” to JFK in the 1960 election) said, “I wish I’d said some of the stuff JFK said during his inauguration.”

    “You mean,” asked Nixon’s companion, “the stuff about not asking what your country can do for you . . .”

    “No,” said Nixon, “I mean the part that begins ‘I do solemnly swear . . .'”

  16. iih | October 24, 2007, 6:27pm

    Nice link.
    BTW, now that it’s World Series time, you’ll be happy to know I’m rooting for the American League champions. I always do that except when the Yankees are in it. Go Boston. Boy, that sounds funny when you’re holding your nose.

  17. I refuse to read the article until the primaries are over

    Sick. Of. Political. Yaketty Yak.

  18. J sub D:

    Yes, Go Sox! (Helicopters are buzzing outside for game coverage seriously 😉

  19. Mad Max:

    What if the very principle at issue is fighting a certain group of bad guys (as defined by oneself)? Then there’s no conflict!

    Sure there is none, but the question remains: Is that the best fight to get into given one’s limited resources? Just look how the (true) message of freedom receives any attention in the “top tier” candidates’ talking points.

  20. Nonsense; Hillary-Hate is the most powerful force in the universe. It will take us to Mars someday!

  21. I have hate in my heart for her because…

    Doesn’t seem to believe in the 2nd amendment – pretends it has something to do with hunting.

    That communist-in-pants-suit thing. Socialism is slavery with a better return rate.

    Her belief in freedom of speech is questionable.

    Phoney outrage irks me.

    Like a good satanist, she seeks to destroy her enemies rather than to defeat their ideas and message.

    All that “for the children” crap as an excuse to limit freedom or take my money.

    We didn’t want a two-fer when we elected Bill Clinton. Get in the kitchen and do the dishes bitch! 😉

  22. Why do I hate her?

    Hugo, baby. Hugo. She’s his long lost evil twin.

  23. Helicopters are buzzing outside for game coverage

    I envy you. The helicopters buzzing outside of my home are trying to contain fires reducing San Diego county to a rather large pile of cinders.

    Local joke before the playoff game with the Rockies – at least we won’t get swept out by the Cards.

  24. juris:

    I am very sorry to hear about that. Sorry for my unintentional insensitivity.

  25. “For gods sake, when I sit down and think about it, I find it hard to understand why the left hates GWB so much. Especially when they have far more in common with him than they ever did with Reagan.”

    I am more in the center-left, but I have tons of friends on the left, and trust me, GWB is not viewed more favorably than Reagan, and the above line of thinking is very off track. Big spending is not the goal of the left, rather big spending on liberal goals. Why? Here are three popular reasons:
    1. Very careful selection of judges who are very anti-abortion, skeptical of gay rights and not skeptical of public displays of religion.
    2. Very careful campaign to make those who are not rah-rah Iraq war appear to be anti-American.
    3. Liberals may not be against government spending, but the Bush spending spree has been focused on decidedly conservative priorities, so it has been huge deficit spending without the desired spending targets. For example, hundreds of billions has been on huge increases in military expenditures and even the Medicare part D involved perceived excess expenditures on drugs, because Bush pushed for no gov’t bargaining for drug price decreases.

  26. Good points, ellipsis. Weigel’s article is about the organized crusade, and it’s sort of falling apart.

    The question is, what will this mean for the broader public perception of her?

    There has been a decade and a half of anti-Hillary attacks throughout the media – on about the scale of a presidential campaign, if you add up everything over the past 12 years – without there being a Hillary Clinton campaign to push back, until very recently. Imagine what, say, George HW Bush or John Kerry’s favorability ratings would be if the media message their opponents put out to bash them was put out there, without a response, or even a pro-Bush/Kerry campaign to show the other side.

    Now we’ve got a Hillary Campaign to plump her up and push back against the bashing. This didn’t exist when people developed their impressions of her in the 1990s.

    I say that 51% is a mile wide and an inch deep.

  27. Holy crap Weigel. Don’t you think you could have said all that with 75% fewer words? Me thinks thou dost protest too much. You must be shilling for big pantsuit.

  28. I came across this article at Cato.org that I think is relevant. Here is an excerpt. This could lead to getting rid of HRC and her like in the Dem Party.

    Can a new, progressive fusionism break out of the current rut? Liberals and libertarians already share considerable common ground, if they could just see past their differences to recognize it. Both generally support a more open immigration policy. Both reject the religious right’s homophobia and blastocystophilia. Both are open to rethinking the country’s draconian drug policies. Both seek to protect the United States from terrorism without gratuitous encroachments on civil liberties or extensions of executive power. And underlying all these policy positions is a shared philosophical commitment to individual autonomy as a core political value.

  29. And underlying all these policy positions is a shared philosophical commitment to individual autonomy as a core political value.

    “Individual autonomy” is a fucking hilarious concept when the government owns your bank account, which ever way that happens to have come about.

    There’s a reason libertarians are not “Democrats” or “Republicans”. Or at least I’ve been under that impression for a long time now.

  30. Ebenezer:

    Have you read the article I linked to?

    The idea is how to undermine HRC and her like by finding a common ground with some progressives. This may come with some compromise though. Otherwise, as you say, libertarians will always be stuck somewhere between “Democrats” and “Republicans”.

  31. a shared philosophical commitment to individual autonomy as a core political value

    This is beyond hilarious when you factor in liberal left political correctness, combined with their environmentalist bullshit. You only get “political autonomy” if you first set your brain on “automatic program play”.

    The left is as dedicated to “political autonomy” as the right is to “fiscal responsibility”.

    I am so way tired of hearing about how we ought to just “look past our differences” and chum up with the Democrats. Or the Republicans.

    I will vote for Ron Paul, as far as he gets. After that I’m voting for VM’s Noam Chomsky blow up doll.

  32. iih, I don’t see any more common ground than with the Republicans.

    While I agree with most of whats in your 9:53 quote, there are many considerations not addressed. First there is guns. Then guns. And after that we have guns. Then we move into socialism. In addition to guns and socialism, Libertarians may appreciate blastocystophilia to the extent we don’t want tax money paying for blastocystology. And then we have guns.

  33. I will vote for Ron Paul, as far as he gets. After that I’m voting for VM’s Noam Chomsky blow up doll.

    Ha 🙂

  34. Have you read the article I linked to?

    Nope.

    But I find the premise — that somehow, any how, we’re going to unseat HRC from the Dem nomination — unbelievable right out of the gate.

    The only way of stopping her is if someone puts up a clear alternative to her. I do not believe that’s going to happen, unless it’s Ron Paul.

    Sorry, but I’m a big time skeptic of the root premise.

  35. bigbigslacker:

    And, actually, my post and article I linked to @ 9:53 contradict my “principled” comments @ 6:23 and 6:27. I, too, see the struggle.


  36. But I find the premise — that somehow, any how, we’re going to unseat HRC from the Dem nomination — unbelievable right out of the gate.

    That was not the article’s premise. That was my “long-term” proposition. And I was thinking more along the lines of “her like” who will come after her.

  37. If Ron Paul were to run against Hillary, it would LBJ vs Goldwater all over again; a fine, principled conservative vs a liberal statist. The result will be most likely the same. Sad to say, we need one more final collapse; then people will be ready to embrace libertarian principles, not out of choice, but by necessity. We will reach the point where it will become clear that the Federal Government is more of a problem than a solution.

  38. Douglas Gray,

    Are you a former Trotskyite? Sounds like a very Trotskyite analysis: worse is better.

    I think you need to sick Ron Paul’s neo-nazi supporters on Hillary. They know how to go for the jugular.

  39. I am more in the center-left, but I have tons of friends on the left, and trust me, GWB is not viewed more favorably than Reagan, and the above line of thinking is very off track.

    Uhm, that’s exactly what I said. You must have only skimmed my message. No worries, I’m guilty of that, too. My message indicated that *should* view GWB more favorably than Reagan, yet they don’t. Thus, my line of thinking is dead on.

  40. joe,

    A few threads back you made a great quip about one of the recent campaigns reminding you of that Simpson’s episode where Lisa had a sign saying “a vote for Bart is a vote for anarchy”, and Bart had a sign saying “a vote for Bart is a vote for anarchy”

    I think that Hillary sometimes falls into that same vein of thought. Sometimes the GOP is screaming that socialized medicine is hiding behind every blade of grass. Then, when we go out to the lawn, we find Hillary Clinton hiding behind every blade of grass. I think that Hillary is an easy target for republicans because she proudly holds the banner for everything* they hate.

    *everything, in this case being the standard GOP hot-button issues. Unfortunately for the GOP, they’ve forgotten why those are their hot-button issues and have lost any sense of consistency between their policy positions. As such, they’ve become a completely schizophrenic party that has, in comparison become a near parody of everything the liberals hate.

  41. it would LBJ vs Goldwater all over again; a fine, principled conservative vs a liberal statist. The result will be most likely the same. Sad to say, we need one more final collapse; then people will be ready to embrace libertarian principles, not out of choice, but by necessity.

    I don’t think this is neo-Trosky-iteous. It’s probably just plain realistic. Given that stark a choice, history probably would repeat itself.

    But I don’t think “one more collapse” is going to do the trick. “One more collapse” will just bring us “one more FDR”, upon which our collapse will be final and complete.

    Call it what you will, but if you go by the general trends in the history books, odds are heavily against an American rejuvination.

    Rome rejuvinated itself through a combination of periodic barbarian invasions and peasant insurrections causing crises that forced them to “get real”, at least for a moment, because it nearly destroyed them. Exactly what about “the Roman way” made them able to rejuvinate, I have never really understood.

    The Chinese and Egyptians “rejuivinated” through the simple expedient of cyclic dynastic collapses, which provided a sort of reset/reboot function, clearing out the corrupted memory and allowing the government to basically begin anew.

    Beyond that, historically, most nations and empires have had a good strong run that lasted from 100-200 years, maybe 300 at most. Then they’d start to decline, with speed determined at least as much by external circumstance as anything (the Ottomans fell very slowly for example, circumstances just made it that way).

    Call it historical fatalism, but the old “American spirit of independence” that this nation started with, is largely dead and gone. As proof I submit the current presidential race (which started way way too early). About half the public appears to favor HRC, and the other half doesn’t know what it favors — but it’s not dropping at the feet of a Barry Goldwater/Ron Paul type.

    Americans today are not into rugged individualism. They’re into government hand outs. We are not an open and expanding frontier society anymore.

    It would take an exceedingly rare combination of circumstances, the right crisis combined with the rise of just the right leader, to reverse our decline. Many, many nations in history have fallen for lack of the right leader (though Thailand during the colonial era provides an excellent example of the opposite, where a series of enlightened and capable monarchs kept the nation independent, albeit at a price).

    Call me a fatalist, but this is what the track record of history says by my reading.

    As much as I like Ron Paul vis a vis anyone else on the field, I don’t believe the stars have properly aligned with him to make an American come back likely.

  42. Douglas Gray,

    OTOH, tell me something — what’s the difference between Goldwater/Ron Paul, and Reagan?

    Reagan came to power at a time when the Dems had no comperable heavy weight on the field. Likewise HRC will come to power when the Reps have no comperable heavy weight on the field.

    What would happen if we could put a Reagan up against a Hillary? Which one would walk away with the prize, and by what margin?

    Now that is a really interesting question. But we aren’t going to get the answer because Ron Paul is no Reagan.

    Nonetheless, I contend that our obituary is written in the fact that HRC has the level of support she currently does. It says the old independent American spirit bit the dust.

    She’ll give us $5k per child. Oh no, she doesn’t mean it. She means that she’ll come up with some new program where “poor working mothers” get to stay home and take care of sick people, because it’s just too hard on them.

    Either way it’s a hand out for “the poor”. And “the poor” will probably show up at the polls so they can get their hand out.

    Don’t ask who’s going to pay for the hand out. The number of “rich” people is always a lot smaller than the number of “poor” people (whom HRC wants to “help”). So in a general election, you know in advance who’s getting screwed.

    Such is a democracy, which we seem to have mixed a little too much of into our republic.

  43. The 2000 election probably answers my question as well as it can be. Recall that Bush got in the first time on a fiscal responsibility and humble foreign policy platform.

    Never mind the fact that he betrayed it all. At this level the rhetoric does matter. Libertarian-like leanings, along these lines, won by a razor thin margin over Gore.

  44. HillaryHate will probably get conservatives exactly where BushHate got liberals in an election: going nowhere, getting laughed at, and ignored by those who take matters more seriously.

    What’s next? Blaming the media for an unfair treatment for your candidate? That’s just lazy.

  45. Of course, if the MSM were doing what most consider to be their job, they’d be discussing all the flaws in her policies.

    Not to mention a fundraising operation that seems to be more organized crime than political advocacy.

  46. Now we’ve got a Hillary Campaign to plump her up and push back against the bashing. This didn’t exist when people developed their impressions of her in the 1990s.

    I say that 51% is a mile wide and an inch deep.

    joe, you’re assuming that to know Hillary! is to love Hillary!. I tend to think that the more people get to see her, the less they’re going to like her.

    Our views, of course, represent our personal reactions to the woman. Still, I think her near-total lack of charisma will be a real problem for her as the campaign grinds on and people wear out on her rather grating personality.

  47. ebenezer, well said…well said.

  48. A successful candidate simultaneously presents a positive image of themselves and a negative image of their opponent. Painting a negative image of Hillary is almost too easy–and not just because of the all of the ’90s stuff. She’s a dreadful candidate who almost seems to spontaneously generate negative vibes out of nothing. But I see no Republican apart from Ron Paul who generates an actual reason to vote FOR them. “Electability” is the biggest bunch of horseshit I’ve ever heard, and certainly not a reason to vote for someone.

  49. Call it historical fatalism, but the old “American spirit of independence” that this nation started with, is largely dead and gone.

    I think a lot of us are worried about that, Ebenezer. It could be that rugged individualism requires risk-taking, and the average American is now too prosperous and well-fed to want to take any risks. That’s the entire life-basis of the nanny state, isn’t it?

  50. “The article makes the false assumption that the MSM wants to do what most consider to be their job. Their real job appears to be to usher in Ruuudy vs. Hillary, followed by ushering in Hillary.”

    That’s what I said about a week ago, but was told I was nuts. But mark my words…

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/122987.html

  51. “I have a million ideas; America can’t afford them all.”

  52. The feminists and the Alan Alda clones like to play the “anti-Hillary = women-hating cavemen” paradigm, which is a card that Hillary herself has played all her life. Just ask Rick Lazio.

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