Inside the numbers: More Hillary Clinton

Posted: Jul 08, 2003 12:00 AM

As predicted, we drew a significant number of reader responses to the survey results that showed Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is a more popular public figure than her husband, former President Bill Clinton. In fact, I have yet to get through all of them.

Before sharing a small but highly entertaining sample of reactions to the column, let me remind readers of my take on the poll. I am fearful that Ms. Clinton will somehow slip past the GOP radar screen. That she will be underestimated by conservatives who don't realize that much of the public doesn't recognize the intensity of her liberal, dogmatic ideology. Indeed, I'm worried that she could even win the presidency in 2008.

Let me also add that a new wrinkle has developed. While in England promoting her new book, Sen. Clinton played coy about any future presidential plans. But she noted that 2004 would hopefully see a Democratic man "or woman" elected president. What woman? Surely she's not suggesting the current lone female candidate, Carol Moseley Braun, has any real chance of heading the Democratic ticket? Could it be -- despite her protests that she will not run in 2004 -- that Sen. Clinton might be "drafted" into the nomination race if early primary results indicate a rudderless Democratic party?

With that scary thought in mind, here is what readers had to say.

The "You're Crazy" Comments: The best example of this opinion was in an e-mail from a reader who did not disclose where he lives. Nevertheless, I thought it summed up the sentiments of the surprising few who felt the "Hillary" concept is absurd.

"Eric" writes: "Clip this, Matt. Hillary is not electable in this country. Period. If you raise the issue as a warning to conservatives to make certain she remains unelectable, then you are brilliant. Only you and your hairdresser know for sure."

Dear Eric: No, I am not brilliant, and leave my hairdresser out of it! Thanks for the comment.

A reader in Glen Allen, Va., notes, "I doubt (Sen. Clinton) could be elected in New York after 9-11, as she showed how uncaring and selfish she is. . . . Are you overlooking the bitch factor?"

Dear Glen Allen: You and I noticed her poor behavior when President Bush addressed Congress after 9-11, but I'm not sure most Americans noticed or will remember. As for the factor you mentioned, I'm not sure I would use that particular term, but remember, many who vote see only the veneer of a politician. That's what makes her such a potential force in the future.

The "You're Right, We Better Be Prepared" Responses: It's fair to say that the majority of reader responses agreed Ms. Clinton is a "stealth threat" to the GOP. Needless to say, their feelings about her were strong.

A woman in Cornwall, N.Y., writes, "I was so pleased to read your column. I happen to agree with you and have felt like some kind of lunatic because the mainstream right seems to think that Mrs. Clinton is unelectable. . . . These two (Bill and Hillary) are too dangerous to be taken for granted."

Dear Cornwall: If it makes you feel any better, there are some very respected conservatives who share your view. Nationally syndicated radio host Neal Boortz reportedly asked former Speaker Newt Gingrich if he agreed with my column about Hillary Clinton's potential as a presidential candidate. Newt reportedly noted something to the effect that far too many "experts" have underestimated the Clintons in years past.

A reader in Melrose Park, Fla., makes an interesting point when he notes, "If people get over the 'I plain don't like her' approach and use some common sense, they will see that this woman has come a long way while carrying a whole lot of baggage. I've not quite figured out where her base of support comes from, but it is strong and getting stronger."

Dear Melrose Park: Many a political observer has been stumped as to why Hillary Clinton is capable of getting support from "swing" voters who are really not in line with her personal or political philosophy. While I believe President Clinton was able to attract these voters with his charisma and (compared to Hillary) more moderate views, I too am shocked that this same bloc of voters appears ripe for the picking by Ms. Clinton.

Many responses dealt with how devious Hillary Clinton is and what a disaster she would be for the country. Several readers said that if Sen. Clinton were ever to win the presidency, they would leave the country. I don't think they were kidding. But rest assured, neither is Hillary Rodham Clinton. To her, everything is serious business.