There's something about Hillary, and for many Americans, that something is akin to mosquitoes, plagues, and possibly, the apocalypse. Scan the Web, and you'll find that Sen. Hillary Clinton is "Satan" to some, a "pinko Commie" to others. With Clinton leading the Democratic pack for president, Hillary-hating is all the rage.
The trendy Web retailer CafePress, which allows people to design and sell their own T-shirts and other products online, reports that it's already carrying 122,000 unique anti-Hillary items, including a "Hillary Is the Devil" Christmas ornament. Anti-Barack Obama products? Just 7,600. Negative books are stacking up in stores. And a flurry of websites are joining old-guard conservative publications in attacking Clinton. Hillaryhater.com—origins unknown—is under construction, while stophernow.com has been operating since December. Typing in a similar Website, stophillarynow.com, brings you to the site of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which bought the address when Clinton first ran for the Senate. Now the committee has resurrected it, while John Edwards and Barack Obama get a pass. The NRSC plans to use Hillary's polarizing effect to summon votes against Democratic Senate candidates in swing states like Iowa.
Roots. Why all the venom? "She represents the ultraliberal wing of the Democratic Party...socialized healthcare, higher taxes," says Richard Collins, a prominent Texas businessman who created Stop Her Now. He and other conservatives also cite the long list of controversies surrounding the Clintons, from Whitewater to Monica Lewinsky. Since fugitive Clinton fundraiser Norman Hsu made headlines, Collins's website has been offering $1,000 for information on other fundraising abuses. R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., editor of the conservative magazine American Spectator, says there's enough Clinton scandal to turn even liberal Democrats away. Sure enough, popular liberal blog Daily Kos opposes Clinton, although its chief complaint is that she represents the status quo.
But all this negativity isn't necessarily bad for Clinton, experts say. It's the result, in part, of her front-runner status. And the candidate could benefit from low expectations. "All she has to do is not be riding a broom," says Paul Begala, a political analyst and former adviser to Bill Clinton, "and people say, 'Gee she's more pleasant than they made her out to be.'"