California governor Jerry Brown, former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean, and Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley have said publicly what a bevy of Democratic party officials have said privately. And that's that they are worried about, have misgivings about, or are outright hostile to Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate. This doesn't even count the legions of Democrats who fervently back Clinton's Democratic rival Bernie Sanders. Many of them rail harder at Clinton for her alleged pro war, pro Wall Street, and corporate stance, than any of the GOP presidential candidates. They have flatly said that if Clinton is the Democratic nominee they'll stay home on Election Day.
Then there's Vice President Joe Biden. There's really only one two reasons that a sizeable number of Democrats are imploring Biden to jump into the presidential race. And that's because of their open or thinly camouflaged disdain of Clinton. The other ties back into the first. Either they don't want or believe that Hillary can win. Or, that she is such damaged goods that she'd be a liability as the party standard bearer and an even bigger liability in the White House.
The anti-Clinton animus started long before the non-stop pounding of her by the GOP congressional witch hunters, and a hostile, Clinton titillating prone mainstream media. The start point was the 2008 Democratic slug fest between Clinton and then presidential candidate Obama. Clinton's supposed negatives on race, her personal coolness, sense of Clinton presidential nomination entitlement, and alleged sleazy campaign tactics were turn offs too many Democrats. It didn't take much for them to leap over her and embrace Obama when it became plain that he could mount a real challenge to Clinton for the nomination. The quick step to Obama became a stampede among many Democrats after a few primary wins by him.
Though Obama buried the hatchet, and tapped her for Secretary of State, it didn't totally make the anti-Clinton loathing go away. It cropped up again during the Benghazi hearings when Clinton was pretty much left to dangle in the wind by top Democrats who either gave a tepid defense or were silent as the GOP merrily finger-pointed her as the guilty party in the Benghazi assault. This silence or perceived weak kneed failure to hit back hard at the silly and outrageous attacks on Clinton and the Democrats by the Republican National committee, a gaggle of ultra-conservative Super PACS, and the parade of right wing bloggers and websites has plopped Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz squarely on the hot seat. The calls for her to step down are loud. But there's an irony here. At the same time some Democrats shout for her to take a hike, they also pillory her for allegedly being locked down in the Clinton camp.
The damage from the relentless Hillary bashing has been on full display since the summer. Polls supposedly show that her stock with every segment of Democrats has plunged. With the biggest and most worrisome of the drop-offs from women, especially white women.
Other polls show that where once she scored a commanding edge over any GOP candidate in a head to head race, she now is edged out by of all people, GOP presidential contenders Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Polls like this have to be taken with the entire salt mine given that they merely reflect the media fed fascination, attention on these two, and the pre-primary expression of perennial, anti-Washington establishment sentiment among voters.
Yet, the political well against Clinton undeniably has been poisoned by the barrage of negative press about her supposed duplicity and the persistent tag of "liar Clinton." Clinton's alleged "untrustworthiness" was the single biggest factor cited in the purported drop in her support among women voters. The prospect of a Clinton not heading the Democratic presidential ticket, once seemingly unthinkable, is now so openly talked about that it has deflated many Democrats and emboldened the GOP.
The RNC and the endless anti-Clinton GOP front websites have loudly announced that they'll step up their anti-Clinton assault. They know what many Democrats don't seem to grasp and that's that a Clinton-less Democratic ticket will be a ticket that can be far easier to beat. Why because Sanders, despite his compelling, energetic, even inspiring campaign, is a socialist and an atheist and that almost alone renders him not electable. There's no evidence that Biden if he chose to run could do any better than Clinton in parrying off the assaults over his gaffes, the hip lock with Obama, and his abysmal failures to mount any kind of credible, sustained campaign the times he was an actual presidential candidate. Worse, there's not much difference between Biden and Clinton on the big ticket issues from health care to foreign policy. So other than a name change, Biden brings little to the top Democratic spot.
Democrats that bash, ignore, or are lukewarm toward Clinton do nothing to inspire and motivate the Democratic base. Instead they deflate them, and that's before even the first Democratic debate. They do this at their peril.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Los Angeles and KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network