I’ve dim memories of reading Henry Louis Gates’ profile of Hillary Clinton in February 1996. These paragraphs leapt out this morning:
The remark chimes with something I’ve been told by the redoubtable Sally Quinn, who—in part because she’s a frequent contributor to the Washington Post, in part because she’s the wife of the Post’s legendary editor Ben Bradlee—must herself count as a figure in the so-called Washington establishment. “There’s this old joke about the farmer whose crops fail,” she says. “One year, he’s wiped out by a blizzard, and the next year there’s a rainstorm, and the next year there’s a drought, and so on every year. Finally, he’s completely bankrupt—he’s lost everything. He says, ‘Why, Lord? Why, why me?’ And the Lord says, ‘I don’t know. There’s just something about you that pisses me off.’ ” She pauses, then says, “That’s the problem—there’ s just something about her that pisses people off. This is the reaction that she elicits from people.”
Well, from many people, anyway. “A lot of Americans are uncomfortable with her self-righteousness,” Arianna Huffington says. “I think gratitude is great if you can communicate it, but if you have to keep telling people how grateful you are . . .” William Kristol, a Republican strategist and, since September, the editor and publisher of The Weekly Standard, puts it this way: “She strikes me as a sort of moralistic liberal who has a blind spot for actions that are in her own interest. These are exempt from that cold gaze that she casts over everyone else’s less than perfect actions.” On the whole, though, he’s one of the more dispassionate voices you’re likely to hear on the subject. Peggy Noonan, who came to prominence as a speechwriter for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, speaks of “an air of apple-cheeked certitude” that is “political in its nature and grating in its effects,” of “an implicit insistence throughout her career that hers were the politics of moral decency and therefore those who opposed her politics were obviously of a lower moral order.” She adds, “Now, with Whitewater going on, nonliberals are taking a certain satisfaction in thinking, Uh-huh, you were not my moral superior, Madam.”
These people are still alive and loathsome.
A longtime friend of both women puts it this way: “It’s like the blond girl in the class—you don’t even know why you hate her.” Whatever the roots of Quinn’s disaffection, her assessments of both the Clintons do tend to be unsparing. “I just think that, time after time after time, they have responded to things with no class,” she offers tartly. “It would appear that there is sometimes a certain lack of loyalty.”
To think that before the internet American newspaper subscribers had to endure this Mean Girls shit from men and women of purported intelligence and influence.
That’s why Trump and Clinton are the best things to happen to Quinn types: the candidates define the limits of respectability, thus forcing Quinn and Cokie and Chuck to stake positions of unhilarious irrelevance.