Wednesday, June 20, 2007

On his radio show today, Hugh Hewitt interviewed the director of The Nixon Presidential Library, John Taylor. Hewitt mentioned to Taylor that Andrew Sullivan recently quipped that Hillary Clinton is "Nixon in a pant suit." Somewhat interestingly, Taylor responded that the one thing they certainly have in common is they're polarizing, but he added if people think this attribute could hurt Clinton to just consider that Nixon won two elections, the second one by a huge margin.

I accept his point, but remain doubtful whether the comparison is truly valid. Yes, a public figure is not doomed for being liked and disliked at extremes. However, it's difficult to see where it helps come election time, especially since the reality for Hillary will come down to X number of folks will never vote for her and X number will because they'll never vote for the GOP alternative. Also, if for the sake of argument we continue to assume she gets the Dem nod for next November, it's still too early to tell if she'll face off against as weak a candidate as McGovern turned out to be vs. Nixon.

My fear is a bigger hurdle for her will be closet sexism. Telling a pollster over the phone that you like Hillary and will vote for her is one thing, but unfortunately many could do quite the opposite when they get behind the curtain and have to pull the lever. During that moment of truth, deep-seeded feelings have a way of bubbling up -- no matter how ugly or wrong those feeling may be. The same could be said for Gore when he chose Lieberman, with closet antisemitism likely costing the ticket valuable votes, and closet racism could potentially cost Obama votes.

Yes, a horrible topic to consider and think about, but in this country -- where many still hold on to such backward, heinous beliefs -- it's a sad reality.

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