The Chicago Tribune
August 5, 2005
People who make other people's skin crawl
by Victor Davis Hanson
Sen. Clinton's metamorphosis is scaring just about everyone
`I am, you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants."
Who recently blurted that out?
Pat Buchanan? Congressman Tom Tancredo? Nope, it was Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Which Democratic senator has expressed little public remorse over voting for
23 counts to authorize war against Iraq, and has scoffed, "Saddam Hussein
had been a real problem for the international community for more than a
Yep, Clinton again.
And who frowned on frequent abortion, hoping that it "does not ever have to
be exercised or only in very rare circumstances"?
Need I even answer that?
We all know that the New York senator is moving ever rightward, but why so
brazenly and all of a sudden?
The depressing answer is clear for any Northern liberal who wishes to be
president: No Democratic presidential candidate has been elected without a
Southern accent in the half-century since President John F. Kennedy was
elected in 1960. If the country in the last half-century has grown more
conservative, the South is emblematic of that shift.
Kennedy's long-ago success was by a razor-thin margin. He pulled it off by
emphasizing national defense, space exploration and tax cuts that apparently
created the necessary patina of conservatism that Presidents Lyndon B.
Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton later found naturally in their
In contrast, given the defeats of Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Walter
Mondale, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, it seems that liberals from above
the Mason-Dixon Line have little chance of winning sufficient red states to
capture the Electoral College. A sort-of-Southern-sounding Al Gore came
close and won the popular vote in 2000.
Many on the left, however, feel that the medicine of moving the party to the
center is worse than the disease of remaining irrelevant. That said,
triangulation for a chameleon Sen. Clinton relies on an emotional base that
will still cry Hillary, right or wrong.
Like her husband, Hillary Clinton generates just that die-hard loyalty.
President Clinton signed a welfare reform bill for which President Bush
would have been demonized. Without a cry from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
or comedian Al Franken, Clinton preempted and bombed in the Balkans despite
neither UN approval nor a vote of the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Clinton also grasps another great truth about America. Populism is
never passe. What the old blue-collar middle-class electorate revolted
against in the 1960s was not only the Democratic liberal social agenda, but
also the hypocrisy of their erstwhile spokesmen in the universities,
foundations, media and Hollywood who lived a very different life from what
they advocated for less well-off others.
But as the Democratic Party moved leftward and upward, middle-class
Americans below and to the right nevertheless remained distrustful of
unearned aristocratic privilege. They don't like, for example, hearing about
CEOs finagling multimillion-dollar bonuses from their publicly held
companies that have no connection with their own actual performances or the
So Hillary Clinton is now voicing the old Democratic fair deal, without
giving too much rope to her fringe zealots, who could hang her in places
like Topeka or Memphis with gay marriage, open borders, partial-birth
abortion or skedaddling from Iraq.
Inasmuch as Sen. Clinton's transformation for now seems cosmetic and is as
yet unmatched by a written agenda that spells out reduced entitlements, low
taxes and strong national defense, can she pull it off without seeming
Perhaps. Sen. Clinton learned the populist ropes in Arkansas and so now
represses the boilerplate bombast of a Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) or Sen.
Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).
All her dirty linen has long ago been aired. A recent sleazy biography by
Edward Klein gained Sen. Clinton empathy rather than embarrassment. Mostly
forgotten are her old putdowns of stay-at-home moms and the socialist
health-care plan fiasco of 1993.
Finally, she is being advised by one of the most astute political
triangulators in American history--her husband. Bill Clinton didn't win a
majority vote in either successful presidential election and yet navigated
an entire agenda through a hostile Republican Congress. If liberal Hillary
once held down Bill's left flank while he moved rightward, expect now that a
suddenly more liberal-sounding Bill will do exactly the same for her.
We can already gauge the success of Hillary Rodham Clinton's new odyssey in
a variety of ways. For starters, out-of-touch Democrats on the left are
already worried how far she will stray.
But Republicans are even more fidgety that she is not just moving laterally
in the views she expresses, but up in the polls as well. Like frozen
observers watching a train wreck in progress, conservatives are sweating
that a winking Hillary might just get elected and then unveil her true
Fewer on the right are now saying that Rudy Giuliani is too liberal a
Republican to be the party's presidential nominee; instead, many are
suggesting he's perhaps the only candidate who can derail her.
What a strange metamorphosis we are witnessing: a candidate still in the
veiled chrysalis stage whose supporters fear that the new creature may
emerge as a centrist butterfly, while detractors are even more convinced
that she will turn out to be a liberal moth.
You mean pandering politican!
Another pandering politicain with an internet platform..............