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Sunday, January 27, 2008
New Term of the Day: Clinton Disillusionment Syndrome

In the comedy western, Rustler's Rhapsody, Tom Berenger is betrayed at a crucial moment by Patrick Wayne. Tom yells, "Hey! You're not a good guy after all!", to which Wayne replies, "I'm a lawyer, you idiot!" The message is clear that Tom (and the audience) should have known all along he was a villain.

That's how I feel about the sudden yelps from those liberals who are supporting Barack Obama. Jonathan Chait dares to ponder the unthinkable: Is the Right Right On the Clintons?

The sentiment seems to be concentrated among Barack Obama supporters. Going into the campaign, most of us liked Hillary Clinton just fine, but the fact that tens of millions of Americans are seized with irrational loathing for her suggested that she might not be a good Democratic nominee. But now that loathing seems a lot less irrational. We're not frothing Clinton haters like ... well, name pretty much any conservative. We just really wish they'd go away.

Well, I am shocked that this is appearing most among Barack supporters; I can't imagine why they don't understand what fine and good people Bill and Hillary are, and how lucky we are to have them around. Fortunately for liberal fans, Chait concludes that the Right was mostly wrong, but right about their character:

But the conservatives might have had a point about the Clintons' character. Bill's affair with Monica Lewinsky jeopardized the whole progressive project for momentary pleasure. The Clintons gleefully triangulated the Democrats in Congress to boost his approval rating. They do seem to have a feeling of entitlement to power.

Kevin Drum gets upset at the Clintons playing the race card (by noting that Jesse Jackson won South Carolina, too).

But that said, enough's enough. I don't like dog whistle racial appeals when Republicans do it, and I don't like it when Bill Clinton does it. (And unlike Hillary's MLK/LBJ remark, which was idiotically mischaracterized, don't even try to pretend that this was an innocent remark. We're not children here.) Yes, Obama has to be able to handle this kind of sewage, and yes, this will almost certainly be forgiven and forgotten among Democrats by November. But it's not November yet, is it? My primary is a week from Tuesday, and I'm not feeling very disposed to reward this kind of behavior. At this point, it's looking a lot more likely that I'm going to vote for Obama.

My goodness, Hillary hasn't a chance in California, now that Kevin Drum has come out against her!

Karl at Protein Wisdom appears to have coined the term Clinton Disillusionment Syndrome.

Of course, it remains possible — perhaps even probable — that Left-liberals would rally to the Clintons again, should she win the nomination and even the general election. But I would still suggest that at the margins, this campaign, in this political environment, has forced Left-liberals to see the Clintons in a way that erodes the intensity of support they enjoyed in the 1990s. The scales have fallen.

I'm not quite that optimistic. During this primary season, both Democrats and Republicans see supposed chasms between the candidates within their party, but the moment the nomination fight is over they see the very real Grand Canyon between them and the other party's nominee. And the convention will have a lot of rousing speeches and suddenly they'll be fired up to win.
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