Yesterday Paul Krugman reminded us that preferring Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton because you wanted to avoid the Clinton psychodrama of the 90s was always a vain hope. Back in early 2008 he wrote, "Any Democrat who makes it to the White House can expect the same treatment: an unending procession of wild charges and fake scandals, dutifully given credence by major media organizations that somehow can’t bring themselves to declare the accusations unequivocally false." Ezra Klein, chatting online about town hall hysteria, added, "This is how the conservative movement organizes against major pieces of liberal legislation. It's not about a particular moment or leader."This is all very interesting, but I'd just like to add one thing. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama presented himself as someone who could bring us into a new era of transcendence over partisan differences. There would be Hope and Change. Obama believed — and a lot of us believed — that he was a calm, reassuring figure whom we could all love and trust.
This is unquestionably true, but I'd just like to add one thing. If Hillary Clinton had won last year's Democratic primary and gone on to become president, and then this year's town hall meeting had turned into insane gatherings of lunatics yelling about death panels, every single pundit in Washington — Every. Single. One. — would be blaming it on her. Their unanimous take would be: Democrats knew that she was a divisive figure and chose to put her in the White House anyway. It's hardly any wonder that conservatives have gone nuts, is it?
That narrative, as we now know, would have been 100% wrong. But that would have been the narrative anyway. Caveat lector.
Hillary would have known better. She'd been through it all before. She wouldn't have thought she could could ease you and cool you and cease the pain*. She wouldn't have blithely assumed Americans would quietly accept the vast, complex restructuring of health care that the congressional Democrats dumped on us. Obama naively thought that he was enough, and the more-liberal-than-America Democrats imagined they could get by on the magic of our admiration for the charming new President, who would look even lovelier as he amassed glittering accomplishments. Wouldn't he be wonderful? Wouldn't America be wonderful to have elected such a fine man President?
He and they got all puffed up. I don't think Hillary would have let that happen. He was Hope. She was Experience. Experience would have been different.