I have written favorably about Hillary Clinton in the past. I praised her (and her husband's) commitment to a "rights narrative" of American history here, and I described her as a "seasoned warrior" here.
But the last two weeks have soured me on Hillary so much that I will find it very difficult to vote for her in November if she is the Democratic candidate for President.
What is my problem with Hillary? In a word, character.
We know about the manipulation of Obama's words throughout this campaign. The mostly recent egregious example was the TV ad that her campaign aired in South Carolina claiming that Obama had supported Ronald Reagan's ideas (when, as she well knew, he actually made a fairly commonplace observation about the transformative role Reagan played, and how the ideas of the right about limited government and individual responsiblity have dominated the national discourse since Reagan's ascent in 1980). Simply put, she believes that the conscious manipulation of voters is acceptable in the effort to get elected. I would guess that among her friends she would go further and say that Obama's refusal to do so betrays him as lacking what it takes to be effective in politics.
But let's just take the non-event, the drummed-up media tizzy yesterday, about the supposed "snub" of Hillary by Obama at the State of the Union address on Monday night. The macrocosm is in the microcosm. How did Hillary Clinton respond to this? She lied. In an interview with ABC yesterday she said "Well, I reached out my hand in friendship and unity and my hand is still reaching out."
The facts, of course, are different -- and again, she knows it. Photos clearly show that Senator Kennedy initiated the handshake with Hillary. Simultaneously, Obama turns away to answer a question, or otherwise engage with Senator Claire McCaskill. Senator Clinton never did reach out her hand to Obama. She might have, if the occasion had presented itself. But it didn't, and she didn't.
Now, admittedly, this is a non-event. I feel somewhat silly even writing about such a trival media tizzy. So why did Hillary's commentary yesterday on the supposed "snub" stick in my craw? Because it points to something deeper than politics; it points to her basic character. Anyone with a sense of dignity, anyone with an instinctive refusal to fuzz facts, anyone with class, would simply not be able to pretend that he or she "reached out...in friendship and unity" when the occasion simply did not present itself, and she never in fact did reach out. If she had just said, "Of course I would always reach out to Senator Obama, but there are more important things to discuss," or something like that, she would still have scored political points with me.
But she had to take the extra step and lie.
I don't know that I could bear four (or eight) more years of that kind of weak character in the White House. I certainly would be shocked if someone I knew lied directly to me that way. It would change the relationship forever.
I truly don't know if I could vote for Hillary Clinton for President. Third party, purely symbolic votes would, for the first time in my life, interest me.
And even though it is my own thought, that scares me.