Ruthless opportunist or gritty pol?

There’s little middle ground when it comes to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

You either love her or you hate her. What some see as grit and determination is viewed as ruthless and opportunistic by others.

She is a polarizing political figure to her opponents and a messiah for 21st century feminism to those who support her.

Somewhere in the middle of all these opposite extremes lies one middle ground of agreement: Hillary Clinton, for better or for worse, lives for the fight.

And the fight is what drives her in her uphill quest for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

As Mark Leibovich and Kate Zernike report in The New York Times:

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is waving her fists across Indiana, signing autographs on boxing gloves.

“We need a president who’s a fighter again,” Mrs. Clinton said at a rally on Thursday, adding that the next president must understand what it is like to “get knocked down and get back up: that’s the story of America, right?”

In recent days, Mrs. Clinton has chided the experts for “counting me out” and Senator Barack Obama for his inability to “close the deal” and declared that no one was going to make her quit. “She makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy,” North Carolina’s governor, Michael F. Easley, said in endorsing her, and a union leader in Portage, Ind., praised her “testicular fortitude.”

This kind of language and pugilistic imagery, however, also evokes the baggage that makes Mrs. Clinton such a provocative political figure. For as much as a willingness to “do what it takes” and “die hard” are marketable commodities in politics, they can also yield to less flattering qualities, plenty of which have been ascribed to her over the years. Just as supporters praise her “toughness” and “tenacity,” critics also describe her as “divisive,” “a dirty fighter” or “willing to do anything to win.”

The critics include supporters of Mr. Obama who subscribe to the notion, pushed by their candidate, that Mrs. Clinton, his opponent in the race for the Democratic nomination, represents the fractious politics of the past.

The camp gained a new spokesman on Thursday when Joe Andrew, a superdelegate who was a chairman of the Democratic National Committee under President Bill Clinton, switched his support to Mr. Obama from Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Andrew accused Mrs. Clinton and her allies of being “the best practitioners of the old politics,” who “will use the exact words that Republicans used to attack me when I was defending President Clinton.”

Asked in an interview on Thursday about the Andrew defection and the dirty fighter implication, Mrs. Clinton simply shook her head and said: “I don’t know where that comes from. I think it’s just part of the mythology that’s been manufactured and promoted.”

The mythology that Mrs. Clinton speaks of was shaped during her often-embattled public career, much of it spent trying to find her footing as an unconventional political wife.

“She has learned how to be ruthless,” said Robert B. Reich, an Obama supporter who served as Mr. Clinton’s secretary of labor and knew Mrs. Clinton in their college days. “I doubt that it came to her naturally, but she has learned.”


  1. ridingchick

    Jenifer: You are so right! The people you describe are the same people that elected the current looser in the white house, twice.

    They are described as being small minds from small towns.

    Obama for President ’08

  2. griff

    How true. Obama supporters have it in their mind that if you don’t support him religiously, you are somehow a bigoted, backwards jackass. It is inconceivable to the faithful why anyone would not fall head-over-heels in love with him.

  3. Jenifer D.

    Betting on Bigotry

    I think that Billary is betting on the Archie Bunkers of this country to miraculously whisk it to the party nomination win. It’s a crying shame when a candidate is betting on bigots to win.

  4. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    Hillary will let the Democratic party fall on a pike so she can ‘Na-Nah-Na-Na-Nah’ Obama, Hillary is nothing less then a TRAITOR. She Should Be Locked Up In Guantanomo. Whether Pillary or Sir Obama of Camelot win, its’s a lose/lose situation for us. No More Lexus Liberals. Vote Third Party!

  5. Pablo

    Sherry, you have my curiosity. How did the Obama supporters call you and act like thugs? What did they do or say?

  6. sherry

    some of the OBama supporters remind me of what can’t stand about Obama. Everyone who has called my house acted like a thug when I said I wasn’t supporting Obama.
    Now we have people on the boards who think it is perfectly ok to compare Hillary to a witch, a bitch. Heaven help anyone who made such comaparisons to Obama. O my stars!
    that would be racist.

  7. WWWexler

    She should quit because there is no longer any way she can win the nomination. She can only steal it, which has become a story under the headline “nuclear option” in the last day or so.

    So if she can’t win it, why is she still in it? Why do most Hillary supporters still think she can win? Why do they think she’s more “electable” even when she’s losing the election for the nomination? That makes her less electable, doesn’t it?

    That’s why she should quit. In one of Chris Matthew’s rare moments of lucidity, even HE got it. He said that the only reason she’s still in it is because the media won’t let go of it. That’s funny, too, because we just watched the film “Mad City” this weekend. (It’s an oldie but a goodie).


  8. pollchecker

    sherry, I can only speak for myself. I said I wish she knew when to quit. I do not wish her ill well as I genuinely like her as a person. I just don’t believe she can beat McCain. Obviously you don’t think Obama can beat McCain. These are honest differences to be respected and not berated. Unfortunately that is not the current political climate.

    But I am concerned that perhaps there is a ruthless side to her that says if I can’t win, then no one can win. This perception could seriously hurt any future political career plans that she might have, which in the long run would not be best for the Dem party either.

  9. sherry

    Jennifer that was just crude and uncalled for. I thought this was a board for intelligent discussion. Try the AOL board.

  10. sherry

    WHY should she quit? Do you honestly think that will make her supporters support Obama.
    I am not stupid, Obama will get the nomination. He just won’t win the GE.
    LEt the whining begin!

  11. Jenifer D.

    Ain’t no Messiah

    Billary is not a messiah for feminism; it is a messiah for PNAC and the NWO. Do you think Billary would melt if we dumped a drum of Holy water on it?

  12. Hoosier_CowBoy

    Strange, the standard Clinton video circulating at the beginning of the primaries had her husband Slick Willie praising her for her work on behalf of children.

    OOOOHHHH!!!!!!…. but what about the CHILDREN?

    Well, if you’re an Iranian child, you’re dead meat. Please, no post air strike pictures until after November…

  13. DejaVuAllOver

    Ruthless fighter? What a joke. This idiotic, arrogant female dog has virtually NO RECORD of being a tough fighter while she was in the Senate, where it would have counted. She did nothing to stop the war, stop spying, stop torture, stop the stampede to war with Iran, etc., etc. Replace the word “fighter” with “liar” and then you got it right. Sure, Swillary. It’s easy to be a “tough fighter” when you’re the chief executioner and everyone else is bound, gagged and tied to the wall. But then again, that’s probably what your sadistic, demonic soul craves.

  14. Sandra Price

    The religious right is on a campaign to prove that Obama’s Father and his Kenyan family are Muslims. This foolish friend of mine believes that there is a private member- only group that knows that Obama is a Muslim and has been living a lie for 20 years. IMHO it is simply a Rove trick to remove votes from Obama. I told my friend that if he brings his commentary out into the ‘net, I would follow him and make him out a liar. I learned how to do that from Flapsaddle.

    Nothing frightens me as much as having to deal with a bunch of political Christians. There is no depth they will not fall to make life a living hell for others. I am so sick of angry Christians and their lies and manipulations that I often wonder if America can survive under its horrendous evil power.

  15. pollchecker

    “If she only knew when to quit.”

    Amen to that! She may be damaging her future career.

  16. WWWexler

    She’s gritty, she’s a fighter, and she’s tenacious.

    If she only knew when to quit.


  17. Pablo

    Once again, hillary has shown
    what a fighter she is. She has this big need to show everyone how ruthless and agressive she is…or maybe that is just the kind of individual she is. Many of us are extremely put off, not to mention, frightened by this. Many of us are tired of being at war and also tired of using threats toward other countries as diplomacy. In fact, george and hillary’s threats towards Iran are an infraction of the Geneva convention. I imagine that the Iranian citizenry must be living in considerable fear after hearing all our threats of violence and planning for potential nuclear strikes and seeing what we are doing to their neighbor. Could they be next? Hell, even us Americans don’t know if they will be assaulted or not; we, like the Iranian citizenry, fear the worst.

    Hillary just got done saying that if Iran were to ever attack Israel with nukes, we would “totally obliterate” them. Why are these threats being made? Iran has repeatedly declared that their nuke program is for peaceful purposes, which is their right, AND there is no evidence to the contrary. In the meantime, right-wing politicians like hillary and bush are threatening them with annihilation. Shame on them!

    If hillary is the example of what a fighter is, then I don’t want no stinking fighter. I want a diplomat. We need a diplomat.

  18. ridingchick

    Sandra and Jennifer..I agree with you totally.

    Jennifer…Hillary reminds of the scene in the Wizard of Oz when the Dorothy threw water on the witch.

    Do you think perhaps Hillary would melt if someone threw water on her? It would be perfect to see her melt!

    Obama for President ’08