As the campaign trail heats up in anticipation of primary season, the Democratic and Republican candidates seem to finally have found some common ground – their outright dislike of Hillary Clinton.
On Nov. 15, all mud was aimed at Clinton during the CNN sponsored Democratic presidential debate held at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.
This debate played out much the same as the televised CNN debate on Oct. 30 in which Clinton took heat from moderator Tim Russert and the other candidates for, according to the New York Times, “taking vague or contradictory” positions on many issues, her inconsistency on Iraq, a wishy-washy response to a plan by New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and a controversy in which “friendly questions” were planted with crowd members at campaign stops in Iowa.
As was the case in the Oct. 30 debate, John Edwards led the attack on Thursday night, again citing inconsistency in Iraq and accusing the senator of making lofty promises to challenge Bush and the war in Iraq, “but when the crucial vote came on stopping Bush, Cheney and the neocons on Iran, she voted with Bush and Cheney.”
Edwards went on to accuse Clinton of “continu[ing] to defend a system that does not work, that is broken, that is rigged and corrupt.”
Obama, too, joined in the mudslinging, saying, “what the American people are looking for right now is straight answers to tough questions, and that is not what we’ve seen our of Sen. Clinton on a host of issues.”
Unlike the previous debate, though, Clinton seemed prepared for the onslaught, and criticized the other candidates for their low blows.
“I think it really detracts from what we’re trying to do here tonight,” she said, responding to the remarks of Edwards.
This surge in criticism from her fellow candidates comes after months of jabs from candidates on the other side of the ticket.
Both John McCain and Mitt Romney have run ads slamming Clinton.
McCain criticized her, according to the New York Times, for “supporting a $1 million allocation for a Woodstock museum.”
Mitt Romney’s ad attacked Clinton for being new to the political field. Romney told voters Clinton is “entirely without the experience to get things done for the American people.”
Those decrying Clinton can point to her relative inexperience or apparent inconsistency on key issues all day long, but this really isn’t what the attacks are all about.
For all his big talk, John Edwards has waffled equally on Iraq and other issues. So has Mitt Romney.
If you really want an inconsistent candidate, talk to Rudy Giuliani about his stance on illegal immigration. He’ll talk your ear off about a virtual fence to protect his country, but if you talk to any of his opponents, they’ll be quick to point out the fact that New York was a model for sanctuary cities across the nation while he was in charge.
Romney isn’t much better. His shifting stance on gay marriage – which he is now against – has been a huge problem for him during this primary season.
As for experience, Barack Obama is just as green as Clinton. The only thing he has going for him that Clinton doesn’t is the fact that he has never supported the Iraq war. Of course, he also wasn’t a U.S. Congressman at the time, so it’s easy for him to say he would have voted against the war.
The fact of the matter is that Hillary is taking extra heat because she is the front-runner in the polls, she is a woman, and the other candidates feel threatened.
Unfortunately for Clinton, it’s only too likely that things will get worse before they get better.
Luckily, she seems to have found a better way to confront criticism. Let’s see if she can keep it up.
Sean Reed is a junior political science major. His column appears Monday’s in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.