A Taxonomy of Hillary Haters Writer Jack Hitt has coined a verb for Hillary Clinton's legions of haters: "hillarating." Some hate the "Tammy Wynette" Hillary, others the "Lady Macbeth" Hillary, and still others the "Lisa Simpson" Hillary. What is it that leads people to make a sport of hating Hillary Clinton?
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A Taxonomy of Hillary Haters

Listen to Jack Hitt categorize the Hillary haters

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ALISON STEWART, host:

The New York Post tabloid sometimes can sum up so much with a photo and a headline. After Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primary, the paper, which - lets just say isn't a real big supporter of the senator - ran a headline that read, Back From The Dead, right next to a sort of maniacal-looking photo of the former first lady. And there were so many messages there. Now, is it her politics, her personal life, her gender that causes people to get all upset? Something she addressed yesterday on Meet The Press when she had a whole hour to go mano-a-mano with Tim Russert.

(Soundbite of show Meet The Press)

Mr. TIM RUSSERT (Reporter, NBC News): In New Hampshire, the famous scene in Portsmouth where you showed some emotion, was that exhaustion, frustration, what was it?

Sen. HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York): No, it was, actually, Tim, a moment of real emotional connection. Those of us who are running for office and holding office, I know it maybe hard to believe, we're also human beings.

I don't think this campaign is about gender and I sure hope it's not about race. It needs to be about the individuals. Each of us is running for the highest position, the most difficult job in the world. And, you know, I am - I think, very clearly, someone who's gone through a tremendous amount of criticism, you know, that's fine. I'm more than willing to shoulder that.

STEWART: Now, some people saw that interview and thought, wow, she's really tough. For others, it confirmed all their suspicions about her. Jack Hitt created his own verb for all the hating that goes on with Senator Clinton. He calls it hillarating in a lengthy article he wrote about her in Mother Jones. Jack Hitt, contributing writer to The New York Times magazine and This American Life, has been following the campaign so far.

Hi Jack.

Mr. JACK HITT (Contributing Writer, The New York Times, This American Life): How are you?

STEWART: I'm doing great. So, all those hillarating she's experiencing as a candidate, is it different from the scrutiny she's endured in the past, as first lady of Arkansas, of the United States, or even as a senator?

Mr. HITT: Well, I think it's just more of the same. I mean Hillary Clinton is someone who - like from an early era, is sort of like Richard Nixon, in the sense that the different elements of her character have been sort of deliberately - I don't know - planned and sort of put out there. You know, we used to get this new Nixon every couple of years back in the '60s and '70s. And now we got a kind of new Hillary. We got a new Hillary throughout the '90s, you know? She might be the mom who bake cookies or she might be the health care expert, or she might be the dignified first lady traveling to India to talk about the suffering of children. You know, she would put on these different hats. And I think one of the things that makes Hillary kind of more like this kind of politician than almost any other politician is that she's so deliberately kind of dials up and down these different elements of her character.

STEWART: It's interesting you wrote in the article that you get the, sometimes, the Tammy Wynette Hillary, stayed - stood by her man; or the Lady Macbeth Hillary, the steel behind a flawed leader; or the Diane Feinstein Hillary, the centrist hiding as a liberal; or Ms. Frigidaire, a name from her early days in school, which speaks for itself. Which one you think helps her the most in this contest, and which hurts her?

Mr. HITT: Well, I think, you know, generally, she's trying to depict something around the sort of - what I call the Eleanor Roosevelt Hillary.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Okay.

Mr. HITT: Or the Lisa Simpson Hillary.

STEWART: Right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HITT: Now, the Lisa Simpson is the straight A student, the one who gets all the right answers, who is kind of almost frustrated with the world because she knows all the answers and is annoyed that other people don't know that she knows. And the Eleanor Roosevelt one is sort of, you know, that sort of, you know, the person who is on the cover of Life Magazine 25 years ago or longer. You know, the woman who's still listed as sort of the most admired woman in America in certain polls. That's the Hillary that she wants to depict.

Now, in the campaign - I have to say - all of these candidates are dialing up and down their different characteristics and their, you know, and who they are. I mean, we used to see this in Bush, right? He'd be the guy you want to drink beer with one day, then the next day you'd be telling some of the mob you wanted them dead or alive.

And you know, you can go from nice guy to tough guy, you can go from Eleanor Roosevelt to Lady Macbeth, depending on how that is going to affect you or your, you know, the results in the primary, for example. And we're seeing that right now. I was just in New Hampshire.

STEWART: Yeah, you witnessed this incident where she was heckled by some young men.

Mr. HITT: Right. So, a young man in the audience who got up and held up a sign that said iron my shirt. And at first, I didn't even understand what they were talking about, because most of the time, you expect political slogans like, you know, U.S. out of Iraq or stop global warming. It took me a second to realize, oh, this is just a sort of anti-woman comment, you know, like fetch my slippers, woman, you know, make my dinner.

And they just started chanting it. They were probably 20 years old. I didn't think they were old enough to even know this phrase. Anyway, they were very quietly, sort of, taken away by the police. And Hillary got off this amazing line. You know, I guess we see that the remnants of sexism are alive and well in America. And let me just you, this audience was on its feet and just furious, right? In some ways, Hillary represents where women have - how far women have come and how much farther they have to go. And those signs were a brutal reminder of where they might go back to.

STEWART: What's interesting - you bring up an interesting point. I'm curious about these hillarators. Where do they get the most fodder? Is it her gender? Is it who she is as a person? Or is it what she represents now versus what she used to represent, or allegedly represented?

Mr. HITT: Well, I think - you know, Hillary is a many-a-splendored thing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HITT: So, I don't think there's any one answer to why people dislike her. I mean, when I wrote that article, I was stunned to find out how many feminists didn't like her.

STEWART: That was interesting in your article, about the one's you interviewed

Mr. HITT: And yet…

STEWART: …from the ones you interviewed, yeah.

Mr. HITT: But here's the killer aspect of that, they liked Bill. You know, here is the philanderer, the man who cheated on his wife…

STEWART: Mm-hmm.

Mr. HITT: …the very nightmare of a feminist husband, right? And yet, they forgave him, and somehow, they can't forgive her. I mean, it's confusing almost as to what elements in our character make her so appealing on the one hand and so unappealing on - right on the other.

STEWART: Well, you know, it just - you made me remember an article I read about when Hillary Clinton was first lady and she had a whole bunch of other women from Wellesley who were in her class. It was Wellesley or law school class.

Mr. HITT: Right.

STEWART: I'm just remembering this. And one of them said, I - gosh, I feel like, oh, kind of like, oh, a loser, like I didn't make it. And one of the other women said, I don't think you're the only one in this room, referring to Hillary Clinton…

Mr. HITT: Right.

STEWART: …which I thought was kind of interesting.

Mr. HITT: Oh, yeah. Well, you know, that's long been noted that the media, which is, you know, largely a boomer class, first started to turn in a really nasty way on the president, with Clinton…

STEWART: Mm-hmm.

Mr. HITT: …in part because he was the first boomer to make it into the White House.

STEWART: But she wasn't, though?

Mr. HITT: No, she wasn't. But there is a sense that like the media class feels like, you know - each one of them feels like they should be in the White House…

MARTIN: Right.

Mr. HITT: …on some level and is jealous of, you know - that since this is a generation that is measured largely by accomplishment and has measured themselves that way, they see the president as this, you know, this is competitor, and they see Hillary as a competitor.

STEWART: Yeah. I want to bring up one more thing - talk about competitor. I've heard people say this in casual conversation and then it was actually in the abovementioned New York Post yesterday, that Hillary Clinton - this is in a pop culture reference - is like Tracy Flick in "Election"?

Mr. HITT: Right.

STEWART: Yeah.

Mr. HITT: Oh, yeah.

STEWART: And it should…

Mr. HITT: Oh, yeah.

STEWART: …the drive to win overwrites everything else. And you know what? "Election" is going to be on a cable network tomorrow night airing repeatedly.

Mr. HITT: Oh. Oh, watch it everyone.

STEWART: And you think that's a fair assessment that she just wants to win?

Mr. HITT: Oh, well, you know, I'm from South Carolina originally and I'm just watching what's going on in South Carolina right now. And let me just inform sort of non-Southerners that a series of codes are coming out now from the Hillary campaign, that to a Southerner - white or black - just sort of sets off alarm bells.

I mean, the comment about, you know, Martin Luther King couldn't have, you know, completed his dream without Lyndon Johnson signing on. That's a direct dig and an activist community organizer like Obama,

STEWART: Mm-hmm.

Mr. HITT: …right? And a lot of these, as someone on Talking Points Memo said today, a kind of red cloaks designed to sort of provoke Obama into getting mad, right? So when they say things like his candidacy is a fairytale, to a Southern ear what we hear is a sort of undeserving affirmative action black guy…

STEWART: Right.

Mr. HITT: …a fairytale, right? When you hear people talking about his drug use, what a Southerner might hear is - ghetto kid. You know, this is all language designed to make us see him as the angry black man because once they transform into Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson…

STEWART: Mm-hmm.

Mr. HITT: It becomes much easier to defeat him.

STEWART: Before I let you go, do you think all the hating on Hillary Clinton is overblown? Do you think it's even rationally, or do you just think it's a visceral reaction that some people have for her for whatever reason?

Mr. HITT: Well, like I said, I think it's this many splendored thing, but I think it's totally irrational. I think people are reacting in this kind of almost - sort of from their reptilian stub of a brain.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Jack Hitt is a contributing writer to The New York Times magazine and also a participant in "This American Life."

Hey, nice to speak with you, Jack.

Mr. HITT: Nice talking to you.

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