One thing I neglected to mention in today’s post on “demand-side scandals” was the attention Republicans gave to Hillary Clinton during yesterday’s hearings over Benghazi. NBC News’ First Read has the details:
Wednesday’s congressional hearing probing last year’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi revealed this political development: Key parts of the conservative movement are turning their attention from President Obama to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “I find it stunning that four and a half months after the attack, Secretary Clinton still has the gall to say it wasn’t us,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said at yesterday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. Added Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): “Tell me, who is Cheryl Mills?… She is the fixture for the secretary of state; she is as close as you can get to Secretary Clinton.”
In addition, for the first time since Feb. 2008 (when Obama overtook Hillary in the Democratic presidential contest), Republican groups inundated our inboxes with emails about Clinton. The GOP oppo organization American Rising: “Benghazi Hearing Raises Serious Questions About Clinton.” The Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads: “Hicks told Clinton at 2am it was terrorism.” Here was Citizens United’s David Bossie (who was behind the “Hillary: The Movie”): “The Need For A Select Committee Is More Evident Than Ever.” And Drudge’s front page for most of yesterday looked like a time warp to when the Clintons were the constant focus of conservative attacks.
This is one thing we should expect more of as time progresses, and Clinton comes closer to making a decision about her political future. At the moment, Republicans have nothing but kind words for the former Secretary of State. But if she decides to run, expect them to focus their anger and attention on her, both for being a Clinton and for being Barack Obama’s potential successor. Likewise, you’ll see rapid movement in the polls, as ordinary Republican voters who liked Clinton as a mostly nonpartisan figure remember that she’s a Democrat.
The main point is this: For whatever reason, a large chunk of the conservative base (and their representatives) simply won’t accept any Democrat as a legitimate leader of the country. That was true twenty years ago, it was true four years ago, and will be true four years from now if Clinton—or any other Democrat–is elected president.