“Hillary is the first choice of Martian visitors,” or so said Gerard Baker in his August 17 Op Ed piece in The Times of London. Baker, who is the U.S. Editor of the Times, reports that wherever he went across Europe this summer everyone asked him the same question: “who’s going to win the election?” Baker attributes this to a unique confluence of interest between Europe and the States. ”However briefly,” he writes, “the rest of the world is thinking the same way as America.”
Baker admits that this is not a question he would normally feel comfortable answering, especially since the election is fully 15 months away. Who among us enduring this era of the eternal campaign cannot empathize? But what do Martians have to do with anything?
The humorous galactic gambit is Baker’s way of stating the bloody obvious. If a Martian were to come down and follow the Democrat Party’s US Presidential candidates for a few days, he would wonder why there was any question at all why Mrs. Clinton should not be the anointed. “It is evident that she is the most knowledgeable, experienced and disciplined. Most of the time, like a Queen Elizabeth I or a Margaret Thatcher, she easily dominates the inferior men shuffling around her,” states Baker. He then hastens to add that she is not his favorite person. “I continue to find the ease with which she has sacrificed her principles on everything of importance, the makeover from radical feminist to soft-focused mother and devoted wife, from V-sign-waving peacenik to hawkish warmonger, all a little chilling even for my slightly cynical tastes.” Baker laments the credulity of American voters who are likely to overlook Hillary’s faults.
“To be fair for a moment,” Baker concludes, “even I would have to acknowledge that Bill Clinton’s First Lady (though, assuredly not his last), on the evidence of the campaign so far at least, deserves her lead.”
He sees the lesser Democrat candidates as merely hanging around in a tedious collective audition for spots in Mrs. Clinton’s Administration.
Baker is dismissive of Barack Obama. “To be frank,” he says, “that same Martian would have to wonder what exactly all the fuss was about with the Illinois Senator.” He rejects the endless comparisons between Obama and JFK adding: “Mr. Obama remains an oddly unconvincing world saviour.” Nor does Baker spare candidate John Edwards. He characterizes the Edwards campaign as “larded with a hypocrisy and opportunism that make Mrs. Clinton look like St. Thomas More.”
In June, another London Times reporter, Sarah Baxter, penned a book review of political consultant, Bob Schrum’s, mid life memoir: "No Excuses: Confessions of a Serial Campaigner." With the eye catching headline: “Clinton’s zipper problem returns to haunt Hillary,” Baxter chose to indicate the gossipy nature of Schrum’s tome by recounting the late Pamela Harriman’s fury at Bill Clinton. The story goes that he once brought a woman back to Harriman’s home to spend the night with him. Harriman, then the US Ambassador to France, had quite a reputation as what is called a “courtesan” in polite company, but even she was repulsed by Bill Clinton’s recklessness. Baxter’s slant on Hillary’s candidacy is that it will put the spotlight back on the Clinton’s clearly rocky marital history, something rhetorically echoed in the words of Michele Obama last weekend: “If you can’t run your own house, you can’t run the White House."
In his August 19 commentary on Hillary, The Independent’s Foreign Editor, Leonard Doyle, asks: “Why Is She Hated By Progressives and Right Wingers Alike?” His subtitle gives the answer straightaway. “They say she is a scheming control-freak who will stop at nothing in her bid to become the first Mrs. President.” For the record, The Independent is the youngest (founded 1986) of the UK’s daily papers. It was begun by former Telegraph journalists as an alternative venue for those who did not subscribe to the worldview of the Murdoch publishing cartel. It is positioned to attract readers who are politically center left, which suggests it should be aligned with Mrs. Clinton. But Doyle chose to pack his Hillary piece with rather unflattering snippets. Not least of these is his focus on how Hillary has riled America’s left wing feminists. Doyle cites best selling author and filmmaker Nora Ephron as an exemplar of this crowd. Once a supporter who said someone would have to burn down the White House to get her to say anything against the former First Lady, now Ephron is an avowed Hillary resister. Why? Because, she says, (in so many words) you can’t trust Hillary as far as you can spit. This turn hinges almost entirely on the New York Senator’s position on the war in Iraq, frequently cited as the probable source of her downfall, should it come. And here’s a slam which Doyle saw fit to print, although it is unlikely to appear in the New York Times. He quotes Jane Fonda’s description of Hillary as “a ventriloquist for the patriarchy with a skirt and a vagina.” One could argue with the skirt comment as Hillary is always seen wearing pantsuits.
The Guardian newspaper, demographically positioned for center to left wing readers, warned its audience that whoever was elected President in 08, one regrettable fact would not change. A June 7 article remorsefully noted that, even when the evangelical Bush left office, there would be no escape from Christianity. That piece (with an embedded sigh) was entitled: “There’s one thing the US presidential contenders all have in common: God.” Two weeks later, a Guardian correspondent posted in Washington held out hope for British lefties by reporting: “Poll of Democrats reveals Gore could still steal the show.” This political resurrection, should it happen, was put down to “the greatest brand makeover in history.”
For pure comic relief, the Times ran a contribution from the witty Hugo Rifkind, who specializes in writing humorous send-ups of celebrities. In this instance, Rifkind conjured up an uncomplimentary image of Hillary (and Bill) by creating a week’s worth of imaginary entries from her personal diary.
Here are two excerpts from Monday — with the really juicy bits edited out.
“I am dressing. My husband, Bill, is still in bed, watching a women’s beach volleyball match on TV.”
“I am not one of those apple-pie women who frets over her white slacks and gingham shirt each day. Hell no. I despise those women. Although I also respect them, as Americans. Today, though, I’m not sure. Should I be Soft Hillary, in pink and beige, with a glimpse of flesh? Or should I be Hard Hillary?”
It is this impression of Mrs. Clinton which led a Telegraph writer to nickname her “the power behind the drone.”
But for all the insults and parodies being aimed at Hillary and Obama et. al, the respected European journal, The Economist, reports that 40% of GOP supporters believe the Democrats will win the White House in 2008. That is no laughing matter.