Over at the Plank, Chris Orr approvingly excerpts a Weekly Standard article that claims Hillary Clinton is “running a right-wing campaign.”
Bad idea. Clinton does attack Obama from the right and does use classic right-wing frames, so I can understand why Orr might see the Standard‘s point. In fact, he’s welcome to try to make the point on his own. But progressives shouldn’t use conservatives’ arguments as evidence or confirmation. The mouthpieces of the far Right don’t make their arguments about internal Democratic politics in good faith. They seek to divide progressives and fuel whatever media meme is most damaging to the Democratic Party at the moment.
As evidence, take a look at what the Standard piece accomplishes. First, it tars Hillary as a do-anything-to-win politician who is willing to change her core identity in a quest for power:
Hillary!–whoever that was–never really cohered as a character; her previous poses–the Perfect Wife, the Aggrieved Wife, the Empress-in-Waiting–were all unconvincing, but in her new role–the scrapper, forced to the wall,
and hanging in there with ferocious and grim resolution–she is suddenly all of a piece.
Second, it employs and reinforces the tired liberals-as-elitists trope:
She is hated on all the right fronts. The snots and the snark-mongers now all despise her, along with the trendies, the glitzies; the food, drama, and lifestyle critics, the beautiful people (and those who would join them), the Style sections of all the big papers; the slick magazines; the above-it-all pundits, who have looked down for years on the Republicans and on the poor fools who elect them, and now sneer even harder at her.
And finally, it implies that somehow being a middle-class heartland American is incompatible with being a progressive.
…she is becoming a social conservative, a feminist form of George Bush. Against an opponent who shops for arugula, hangs out with ex-Weathermen, and says rural residents cling to guns and to God in unenlightened despair at their circumstances, she has rushed to the defense of religion and firearms, while knocking back shots of Crown Royal and beer.
If a Democrat embraces gun, religion, and beer, she isn’t “becoming a social conservative.” She is simply one of many kinds of Democrats. She isn’t the Nancy Pelosi variety, but she may be the Jim Webb variety.
These arguments are destructive. They are made about the Democratic race with the intention of helping the Republicans win in the fall. Progressives ought not give them any amplification.