JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Hillary Clinton's popularity serves as red flag to US hatred industry

Hillary Clinton: It has been revealed that the former first lady called Monica Lewinsky a "narcissistic loony toon".

Hillary Clinton: It has been revealed that the former first lady called Monica Lewinsky a "narcissistic loony toon". Photo: AFP

News that Hillary Clinton called Monica Lewinsky a "narcissistic loony toon" does not reveal a great deal about the former first lady.

But the reception to the news, and other tidbits garnered from the same trove of documents in which it was discovered, reveals much about how some Republicans plan to tackle the overwhelming favourite to be the Democratic Party's next presidential candidate.

Clinton made the ''loony toon'' comment at the height of the sex scandal that engulfed her husband during his presidency, and it was recorded in notes by a friend, the political science professor Diane Blair. Those notes, part of an archive that includes correspondence, diaries, interviews and strategy memos concerning the Clintons going back to the mid-1970s, have surfaced this week after they were accessed by the conservative online publication the Washington Free Beacon.

The story was amplified by the Drudge Report and Fox News, both outlets that made themselves part of the conservative media firmament with relentless attacks on the Clintons during the Lewinsky scandal.

Conservatives have found in the archive evidence of Mrs Clinton's alleged ruthlessness and of her support of a government-funded healthcare system. "'Ruthless' Hillary Clinton returns as the '90s make a comeback", read the headline of a column by the conservative Cathleen Decker.

Hillary Clinton's run for the presidency in 2016 has seemed likely since she lost the nomination to Barack Obama and inevitable since she stepped down as secretary of state.

Since then the Republican Party has been rightly concerned about her relentlessly high approval rating.

It is almost three years until the next presidential election but Clinton holds formidable leads over all rivals in her party and the country. Some polls give her almost three-quarters of Democratic support for the party's nomination and so far she leads the apparent Republican candidates. She holds a 20-point lead in a CNN poll over Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor and brother and son of two presidents. Against scandal-plagued New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Clinton leads by 16 points. Other rivals - former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Kentucky senator Rand Paul and Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who ran for vice-president on Mitt Romney's ticket in 2012 - trail Mrs Clinton by 17, 18 and 15 percentage points respectively.

Republican opponents have concentrated criticism on her role as secretary of state when four Americans, including an ambassador, died in the attack on the diplomatic and CIA compounds in Benghazi. This has failed to seriously undermine her.

Meanwhile, polls show the Republican Party is trailing among minorities and among women voters.

According to a CNN/ORC International poll released on Friday, 55 per cent of respondents said the Republican Party does not understand women. In this context it is perhaps not surprising that Paul has begun attacking the Clintons over the Lewinsky affair; reminding voters of the original scandal while tarnishing Clinton's status as a feminist icon. He has cast Bill Clinton as the predator who took advantage of the 22-year old-intern and Hillary as his cold-blooded defender.

It is hard to see Paul's tactic working. Despite years of Republican assault - including claims the Clintons were guilty of drug running and murder - Clinton left office with the highest approval rating of a president in US history of near 70 per cent.

Republican strategist Karl Rove has chastised Paul saying: "Frankly, Rand Paul spending a lot of time talking about the mistakes of Bill Clinton does not look like a big agenda for the future of the country."

If nothing else, the echoes of the Lewinsky years might remind Americans that the visceral hatred of the President by some opponents is not unique to the Obama era.

Nick O'Malley is US Correspondent.

9 comments

  • 'Clinton left office with the highest approval rating of a president in US history of near 70 per cent.'

    How amazing is that, particularly given the polarising state of US politics today. Gotta love Bill. Intellectual giant plus knew how to do the public schtick. Change the Constitution and bring him back, I say.

    Commenter
    Flanders
    Date and time
    February 13, 2014, 9:58AM
    • He left a massive surplus during hard times while Bush jnr left a massive debt during a boom, nuff said.

      Commenter
      Cathy Little
      Location
      Prahran
      Date and time
      February 13, 2014, 1:31PM
  • Hilary for President, I say. America has had it's first Black president, now it needs it's first female president.

    The Republicans don't seem to have a decent candidate anyway. Look at Romney. He was a pretty poor alternative to Obama. Despite that I think that Americans had enough of Republican presidents after that moron GWB!

    Now we in Australia have something to be proud off, Our very own GWB. Abbott. Nice.

    Commenter
    dd
    Date and time
    February 13, 2014, 11:12AM
    • To want HRK as POTUS simply because she's female is ... sexist...
      Obama is also half 'white'.
      And GWB qualified as a supersonic jet fighter pilot and scored higher on his SATs than Obama... so who's the 'moron'?

      I am not a pedant; but those who accuse others of being 'morons' should at least get their spelling and grammar correct.... LOL dd!

      Commenter
      marky
      Location
      beach
      Date and time
      February 13, 2014, 1:00PM
    • Marky if GWB was so clever why wasn't he smart? Even if we ignore the way his administration cut or eliminated programs designed to help ordinary Americans, Iraq and the way he turned a surplus into a massive debt will forever taint him as the Worst American President ever and that's pretty big achievement when you consider the competition; Jimmy Carter, Hubert Hoover, Warren Harding, Howard Taft, and that's just the 20th Century.

      Commenter
      Uncle Quentin
      Date and time
      February 13, 2014, 2:36PM
    • Matky: GWB's father was a piolt; GWB was a coward who got himself excused from going to Vietnam.

      Commenter
      Jace
      Date and time
      February 13, 2014, 7:50PM
  • The 90s are back? What, so music's going to be good again?

    Commenter
    Weary
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    February 13, 2014, 11:57AM
    • Hillary will win. I don't know if she deserves to but the GOP is yet to realise the long-term damage done to its brand by the hard right. Their antics around the recent government shutdown don't seem to have helped much either.
      Unfortunately, Congress will overwhelmingly remain a roadblock on the path to progress in any direction so HC's impending presidency is unlikely to have any meaningful impact. Congress is where the real problem lies, and there is a snowflake's chance in hell that it will improve any time soon.

      Commenter
      frank
      Date and time
      February 13, 2014, 12:21PM
      • Rand Paul is best hope for the US. A small government conservative who is also opposed to US imperialism and in favour of civil liberties. He would be a rude shock to ostensibly pro-freedom individuals such as George Brandis, who brands E. Snowden a traitor, while the Paul's rightly describe him as a patriot.

        Commenter
        Bill Murray
        Date and time
        February 13, 2014, 2:39PM
        Comments are now closed
        Featured advertisers