Scratch a liberal and you may find a Hillary hater. A lot of men and women on the left can't stand her. The attitude of these women is both visceral and intellectual. They despise her pretense of being a "feminist" because she so compromised herself in her relationship with Bill. More important, they can't bear her tortuous explanations of why she voted to go to war in Iraq.
Men are less concerned with her personal life; many of them like the idea that a wife can forgive a philanderer. They couch their criticisms in the language of pragmatic politics: "She can't win." Both men and women joined in booing her at the Campaign for America's Future, a far-left fringe meeting in Washington last week.
Nation magazine put her on the cover, asking readers the polling question, "Does Hillary have a woman problem?" The magazine noted that she outpolls both Barack Obama and John Edwards among likely single female Democratic primary voters, but she does poorly among married women.
The Nation reprises some of the most vulgar vitriol poured on Hillary by women: "The right's favorite 'femi-nazi' now has to contend with Jane Fonda, comparing her to 'a ventriloquist for the patriarchy with a skirt and a vagina.'" Nora Ephron writes that "women can't stand her position on the war . . . don't trust her as far as you can spit." Jen Moseley, on the blog Feministing, speculates that women aren't joining up to work for her because being a woman doesn't automatically get a woman's support: "There's no vagina litmus test, people."
Feminists who have railed against the idea of identifying women by their body parts are nevertheless eager to use the "V word" to make points against Hillary. If feminist artist Judy Chicago can depict representations of female genitalia in her infamous sculpture "Dinner Party," political feminists can throw around graphic references to female sexual anatomy that most men still won't use in mixed company.
There's a "rhymes-with-witch" quality to female criticism of Hillary, as if women want to show how tough they can be on one of their own. Columnist Maureen Dowd even compares Hillary to the gangster Tony Soprano of the popular HBO series -- "so power hungry that she can justify any thuggish means to get the prize." Not since the late cartoonist Herb Block depicted Richard Nixon as a sinister bum rising from the sewer have so many piled so many negatives on a mainstream politician.