*In any other time and place it would be the most idiotic and unbelievable headline one could imagine. The headline being that Hillary Clinton ranks close to Donald Trump as the two most hated candidates in the history of American presidential elections. That’s a lot of years and a lot of candidates for her to get one of the most disliked of candidates tag. It’s no mystery why Trump is loathed by so many. He’s worked doubly and triply hard to earn his race to the bottom ratings. The hideous string of Trump inanities, bigoted jibes, idiotic rants, bloviated and inflammatory incitements, and just thick headed contempt for one and all have been on ample display from the moment he announced he was a presidential candidate.
But Hillary in company with him on the most disliked list, why? I mean Trump’s well-earned and deserved stratospheric negatives have been pretty consistent from day one. This isn’t the case with Clinton. Before she formally announced her presidential bid last April, she got overwhelmingly high popularity marks as a much admired public official.
Then things changed, and changed radically. Her favorability numbers steadily marched South. Her unfavorable numbers, unlike Trump’s consistently low ball status, have steadily marched higher with each passing poll. The prime, but by no means only, culprit for this is the Republican National Committee. It put her dead in its hit sights and vowed to do everything possible to render her candidacy stillborn even before it officially became a candidacy. It not so subtly recycled the old trumped up scandals of the past from Whitewater to the Lewinsky scandal. It then cranked out a sneering “poor Hillary” video that touted Hillary’s quip that she and Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House. It then intimated that she shook down poor cash strapped universities for her alleged outrageous speaking fees. It latched on to and played it for all it was worth the phony, totally manufactured, scandals and alleged wrongdoing from Benghazi to her State Department emails. It churned out clip after carefully edited clip of Clinton’s testimony before dirt digging, inquisition GOP controlled congressional committees that attempted to make her look and sound like a chronic and inveterate liar.
The aim was to embarrass and discredit her not because of her alleged missteps as Secretary of State, but as a 2016 presidential candidate. Republicans got what they wanted when their phony accusations against her of cover-up and incompetence got tons of media chatter and focus and raised the first shadow of public doubt. The doubt quickly ballooned into the image of Clinton in the mind of many as a shifty eyed and shifty talking candidate who every time she opened her mouth grew a Pinocchio length nose. This ballooned even more into the image of her as a slick politician who would change positions on issues faster than a Blackjack dealer shuffling a card deck.
Then there is Sander’s sledgehammer attacks on her alleged cozy ties to Wall Street. That’s been sprinkled with hefty whispering and rumor mongering over her supposed outsized fees for talks to Goldman Sachs and other Wall Streeters. This further paints Clinton as a greedy, bought and paid for politician in the hip pocket of big money interests.
The GOP Clinton smear team has planted just enough seeds of doubt and distrust among a wide swatch of the public that it could momentarily turn things over to the Sander’s campaign, the pollsters, and the legions of now encrusted Hillary loathers. They have pilloried, ridiculed and lambasted her for all of her alleged political and personal sins.
The problem in trying to make Clinton the flip side of the political coin of Trump in repulsiveness is that she gets consistently high marks from a wide body of the public for her experience, political competence and savvy. Also, a solid majority of African-American, Hispanic, labor, women, and LGBT voters have remained firmly in her vote columns. The New York primary result convincingly showed that. These are the core Democrats who count the most and are the Democrats who are most likely to march to the polls in November to vote for her.
Voters do want a president they can trust to say and do the right thing both on the issues and in their dealing with the public. But they also want a president who is experienced, well-versed, thoughtful, and firm in dealing with the inevitable crises that will confront the country, here and abroad. There’s absolutely no hint in the polls or anywhere else that the general public has shut down on Clinton on this vital area of concern. One need look no further than the GOP candidate, unlike Clinton, who genuinely earned and deserved his most hated moniker to confirm that.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is From Sanders to Trump: A Guide to the 2016 Presidential Primary Battles (Amazon Kindle) He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Saturdays 9:00 AM on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network
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