CUE THE Jaws theme song. No, it’s not the next edition of Sharknado. It’s Clintonphobia! That feeling Democrats get when they think about running for president in 2016, but are suddenly struck with such fear over Hillary and Bill’s wrath if they dare that it brings on a severe case of…
Segue to Peter Beinert in The Atlantic, complete with the screen shot above of an angry Hillary, because this is how scared Democrats react when they think of opposing Clinton’s candidacy.
There are plenty of ambitious but little-known Democratic governors or senators who are a decade or two younger than Clinton. So why aren’t more of them considering a presidential campaign that might set them up to be Clinton’s successor? The answer speaks to one of Clinton’s under appreciated assets: her ability to instill fear.
Obviously, to the Democratic strain of males in the Beinert mold the fear Hillary Clinton’s candidacy instills has nothing to do with her formidable resume. There are no doubt more natural candidates than Hillary, but few on the 2016 horizon who have her credentials.
Or the headlines that prove most politicians should think twice before considering a challenge to her, even with her poll numbers tightening.
Then there is the first woman quotient, which, of course, nobody wants to consider at all, even with Women’s Equality Day about to be celebrated in the United States, a country which still hasn’t elected a female president.
It’s the panic of hell hath no fury like Hillary’s wrath if you cross her, let alone oppose her for the presidency, that stops them. Oh, and let’s not forget Bill, which for neoliberals with self-loathing always brings out flop sweat.
And for good reason. Throughout their careers, Bill and Hillary Clinton have shown a willingness to remember, and punish, political betrayals. In 1980, then-President Jimmy Carter sent some of the Cuban refugees who had arrived in the United States as part of the Mariel boatlift to Arkansas. Held in prison-like conditions, the detainees rioted and some escaped, which ensured Clinton’s reelection defeat as Arkansas governor. As Carl Bernstein details in A Woman in Charge, the Clintons retaliated more than a decade later by refusing to give anyone in Carter’s inner circle a job in the Clinton White House. In their book HRC, Jonathan Allen and Aimee Parnes note that in 2012, Bill Clinton repeatedly intervened in Democratic primaries to help candidates who had backed Hillary against rivals who had backed Barack Obama—thus reminding Democrats that opposing Hillary carries a price.
As long as we’re talking political vengeance, you’d think somewhere in here the Kennedys would be mentioned, the last score settling Kennedy, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, or we could go back to Lyndon Baines Johnson and his iron fist, but hey, Beinert’s cherry picking to make his point, so the fact that political vengeance is the American way is just an inconvenient truth.
As for that picture chosen by The Atlantic to support Beinert’s theory, it’s déjà vu all over again.
After all, is there anything scarier than an impassioned Hillary Clinton making her case, which in this shot happens to be while righteously and aggressively defending herself against all manner of assaults on Benghazi.
A woman with her hands clenched, her mouth wide open, obviously raging. That’s one thing, but Hillary in this pose?
What could be more frightening?