Republicans’ Hillary Bashing is a Mistake

17 Feb 2015

Hillary 2015The latest Hillary-bashing from Republicans hungry to win the White House in 2016 is the “Hillary’s Hiding” campaign, anchored by RNC billboards charging that Secretary Clinton is afraid to weigh in on economic and foreign policy issues. Republicans who complain incessantly that Hillary sucks up all the air in the room only to do an about face when she, still a private citizen, shuns the spotlight to avoid prolonging the ridiculously long election cycle make themselves look desperate, not to mention bi-polar.

With this latest move, RNC chair Reince Priebus et al come across as whining beltway types with nothing better to do, belying their claim that America is in bad shape and only they can fix it. Where are the “bold, new ideas” these guys are promising? The GOP should run, not walk, away from billboards like this.  This childishness is also abandoning to the American people, who have made quite clear they want their elected leaders to focus on governing, not insults.

Priebus, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee are also under the impression that the entire country echoes their “Hillary hate.” As well, self-important left-leaning pundits who ache for an ideological purity that exists only on paper miss no opportunity to find fault with Secretary Clinton, which in its own way dovetails with Republicans’ negative portrait of her. Yet both discount that Hillary has been chosen America’s most admired women for a record 21 years (and for a record-breaking 13 years in a row). In 2008 she won more votes than any candidate in primary history and stepped down as Secretary of State with a 68% popularity. Juvenile hate mongering is not the way to capture votes or attract anyone outside your echo chamber to your tent.

Just as mystifying, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul created a fake Pinterest profile for Hillary, consisting of pictures of the Secretary captioned with snark. Such behavior is better suited to a twelve year old than a man running to be President. He wanted to make her look foolish and heaped stink on himself instead. Senator Paul’s behavior may be his misguided attempt to captivate Millennials, since he knows what we all do: that they will represent 30% of the voting electorate in 2016, that they are not knee-jerk liberals and their votes may be up for grabs.

But if you want to win an election, you’d better give someone a reason to vote for you, not just against somebody else. To think Paul can attract the youth vote with insults is absurd, whether one supports Hillary Clinton or not. Millennials were weaned on 9/11 and a failing economy. And while their prospects may not be as good, they still have an inherent optimism about their abilities to overcome adversity and make their mark. They are looking for leadership, not sniping.

Per USA Today, Millennials are also responsible for spurring capitalism with a conscience:

This trend-setting, if not free-spending group of 95 million Americans, born between 1982 and 2004, live and breathe social media and are broadly convinced that doing the right thing isn’t just vogue, but mandatory.

With nearly a third of the population driving this trend, kindness is becoming the nation’s newest currency.

“Companies can’t hide anymore,” says Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, known for not only devoting a hunk of its profits to charity but also for supporting grassroots environmental and sustainability causes. Because everything they do becomes social-media fodder, he says, “forward-looking companies are starting to do less bad — and more good.”

To think this philosophy does not extend to Millennials political beliefs is shortsighted.

Aside from her tenure as First Lady, two-term Senator and Secretary of State, Clinton has a forty year record fighting on behalf of children and families, starting with her work at the Children’s Defense Fund when she was first out of law school and now, with her vocal work on behalf of Too Small to Fail. As Secretary she put the economic advancement of women at the forefront of her agenda, more than any before her. As Senator, she worked to secure care for first responders after 9/11.   She fought for and won extended benefits for military families and health benefits for our troops in the National Guard and Reserves. She fought off large cuts to Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Her ability to reach across the aisle, collaborating on health insurance legislation with the man who had been her husband’s nemesis years before, was impressive.

This list plays very well with a young demographic given their reported overall worldview. Mr. Paul and company will need more than insults or dragging out her husband’s 20 year old affair to make a dent.

Once Hillary Clinton declares her candidacy, she’ll weigh in on plenty – and give Republicans all they can handle. Right now, because the press is just as obsessed with her as Republicans are, Hillary is the only target. Prospective Republican candidates ignore the fact that Hillary has been scrutinized and often lambasted by the press on the national stage for almost 25 years. She knows how to handle it.

It’s easy as a Senator, Governor, Congressman or private citizen to land a glancing blow to Clinton with a drive-by sound bite. Once the campaign for 2016 on both side starts in earnest, these guys will find out that the scrutiny that comes with stepping onto the national stage is not unlike stepping barefoot onto a bed of coals. Ask Rick Perry.

Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker seems to be enjoying a bump in his numbers, despite his recent showing on the Sunday morning shows with ABC’s Martha Raddatz, where he could do little more than spew bromides about immigration or Syria and tripped over a few of his own statements.  Mr. Walker will soon discover that he’ll be expected to back up his yen for a “bold, new idea” by actually stating his own – not just saying we need one.

If it’s any comfort to Republicans, the left-leaning press will continue to do a lot of their Hillary-bashing for them. But in the meantime, they would do best to form their own economic, immigration and foreign policies that have less to do with clichés, Clinton-bashing – or insulting Hillary as “Bill or Barack’s third term” – a sexist accusation on its face. That, along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s ageist “Golden Girls” crack against her will not play well, either with Millennials or with women in general – who comprise 53% of the total voting electorate.

It is likely that “Goldilocks” porridge will always be too hot or too cold for Reince Priebus and his brethren (heaven forfend they push a woman like Governor Susana Martinez for President); but the way to convince the American people they are worthy candidates is to show some maturity and play to the gravitas of the Oval Office, not the sandbox.

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Anita Finlay is the bestselling author of Dirty Words on Clean Skin — exposing media bias in a society not as evolved as advertised.  #1 on Amazon’s Women in Politics books for 16 weeks.

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Comments

  1. Bravo! A friend of mine said Rand Paul sounds like a 5th grader. But I think that is insulting to 5th graders. What in the world are these men who insult Hillary thinking?

    • Anita Finlay Says: February 17, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Thanks, Tina. I believe this is simply about being a member of a club and mistakenly assuming everyone else belongs. They do not.

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