HIGH POINT/RALEIGH, NC -- These days, Hillary Clinton is all the rage among conservatives.
Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" -- an attempt to convince his Republican listeners to cross over and vote for Clinton in the Democratic primaries -- continues. Last week, Bill O'Reilly turned his "No Spin Zone" into a two-day infomercial for Clinton, featuring an adoring interview in which he lobbed one Katie Couric-style softball after another at his home state Senator.
Conservatives have found common cause with the Clinton machine in seeking to bring Barack Obama down to earth. The strange, accidental, alliance has helped keep the media focused on Obama's relationships with anti-American pastor Jeremiah Wright and domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, as well as his comments about small town voters "clinging" to guns and religion.
In his New York Times column last week, William Kristol argued that Clinton wasn't getting enough respect among the liberal media, and speaking for his fellow conservatives, he declared that "it falls to us to praise Hillary."
But any conservatives who have grown to respect Clinton over the course of this year really need to get out more.
ON THE TRAIL these days, Clinton is waging a campaign whose motto should be "Say Anything."
The candidate who last year spoke of how she was cursed with a "responsibility gene" is now staking her candidacy on a barrage of policy proposals that are completely untenable, and focused mainly on inciting middle class anger toward a carefully chosen list of enemies.
Midday Monday, Clinton held her last rally in the state before today's primary at the High Point train depot in front of a few hundred people. With noisy trains speeding below the elevated platform, Clinton made pledges that had her sounding like a candidate for student council promising to improve cafeteria food or add more vacation days.
"I will get tough on China," she vowed, slamming the country that "sends us back lead-laced toys, contaminated food, and polluted pharmaceuticals." But her husband profited greatly both during and after his presidency from close ties to China and expanded the U.S. economic relationship with the country by fighting for its most favored nation status.
Clinton promised to "take on the predatory student loan companies," and shouted, "We need to take on the Wall Street bankers and mortgage companies that misled so many people into these subprime mortages."
But her plan to place a moratorium on foreclosures and freeze interest rates for five years would only exacerbate the credit crisis by scaring away lenders fearing that the federal government will arbitrarily rewrite the terms of contracts. It also remains questionable whether such a law would even be constitutional.
"We're going to go after OPEC," she hollered, dismissing it as "monopoly cartel" in which members "sit in some conference room a couple of times a year, decide how much oil they are going to produce, and how much they are going to charge for it."
It's a nice idea, but her strategy of changing laws to sue the organization on anti-trust grounds is risible, because it's hard to see how the group would abide by any U.S. court decision.
The latest addition to her stable of panders is to suspend the gas tax this summer. Her plan differs from Sen. John McCain's similar proposal, because, she wants "oil companies, out of their excess profits, to pay the gas tax this summer, instead of having you pay it."
But even the most basic course in economics would teach that any such tax would ultimately be passed onto the consumer, because the price of gas would increase to reflect the added cost.
Asked by former Clintonite George Stephanopoulos on Sunday's This Week to name one economist who supports the suspension, she responded, "I'm not going to put my lot in with economists."
IT HAS BECOME popular in conservative circles these days to suggest that "you just gotta admire her tenacity," a sentiment that is advanced at her campaign rallies.
Introducing Clinton, North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley said she was "strong as train smoke." Bill Clinton, speaking outside the campaign's Raleigh headquarters in an 11 p.m. appearance (his ninth of the day), fed into this narrative, boasting, "You know, they declared her dead more times than a cat's got lives."
But what is there to admire about this so-called "tenacity"? Clinton began this campaign with a financial edge, the support of a popular former Democratic president, a built-in political apparatus, a consistent lead of more than 20 points in national polls, and more than a hundred superdelegates.
If a candidate starts off with all of those advantages and is too stubborn to drop out of the race, it's no surprise that she is still hanging on.
There is absolutely nothing admirable about a politician so narcissistic and hungry for power that she is willing to say or do whatever suits her political interests at any given moment.
If the Republican Party has declined to the point where conservatives are so worried about defeating a freshman Senator that they are rooting for Clinton to do their dirty work for them, it is simply pathetic.
Whatever Obama's faults, conservatives should ask themselves whether they can bear the possibility of the nation being held hostage by the psychological drama of the Clinton family for another four or even eight years.
Philip Klein is a reporter for the American Spectator.
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