It feels like the New York Times has always felt it had a bone to pick with the Clintons, especially Hillary.
The conservative media absolutely abhorred her from Day One, a loathing that started before her snarky comments about not being the cookie-baking sort, seriously compounded with her response to Bill's blatant philandering, then down from there. But as much as conservative commentators had a blast tearing into Bill, Hillary was always ripped by the left & the right, by supposed friends as well as by determined foes. Especially by The Gray Lady.
Which got me thinking about my own animosity toward HRC, which is strangely unclear in spite of being deeply rooted. Took me to the other day to realize that for me, and I suspect for many, the antipathy goes back to their earliest days.
Bill has always been straightforward. A good old Southern boy who loved life & lives it large. At sixteen, as his state's delegate to Boys Nation, the young man from "backwoods" Arkansas met President John F. Kennedy at the White House - his future house.
A few years later, he got his bachelors from Georgetown, then was off to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Already deeply involved in politics, he soaked in the English view of the 1968 presidential election, giving critiques of political events happening back home.
By the time Bill arrived at Yale to take his law degree, the good old boy had the sheen of accomplishment & a wide world view. Charming, disarming, a natural bon vivant with the world at his feet.
Hillary, born & bred in Chicago, had a very different path. By the time she arrived at Yale to pursue her J.D., she was already someone primed to be considered politically suspect by many & toxic to any conservative.
Until 1968, she was a registered Republican. In 1964, she was a major booster for Barry Goldwater; by 1968, the civil rights movement & the war had transformed her into a Eugene McCarthy supporter. Her ability to make such a decisive shift in politics still makes her suspect to many, who wonder if she changed due to shifting ideological reasons or because liberal played better in the Ivies she attended.
Think back over the past 8+ years & how conservatives have villified Barack Obama for being from Chicago, which is depicted as the very worst in political shenanigans. With good cause - a corrupt voter count in The Windy City cost Richard Nixon the presidency in 1960. Shenanigans that Hillary Rodham, already active as a Young Republican, saw for herself. Today, all conservatives have to hear is that her hometown is Chicago & they expect the worst.
And worse it definitely gets, at least from the things in Hillary's early background that turn right-minded conservatives against her, which influences how many others feel about her, things that happened long before she met Bill.
Hillary showed her liberal Republican chops by working for NY Gov. Nelson Rockefeller's 1968 bid against Richard Nixon for the GOP presidential nomination; disheartened by the way the Nixon campaign painted Rockefeller & by the veiled racial messaging she heard at the convention, she switched parties.
The biggest early nail in her coffin has to be that her senior thesis at Wellesley was a critique of that bogey man of the GOP, Saul Alinsky, a radical community organizer whose name we've all conservatives describe as practically the right hand of Satan. My gosh, little did Hillary know that her goose was cooked even before graduation - where she was chosen to be the first student to ever give a graduation speech. Then, it was onto Yale. And Bill.
This is where Hillary does something that is so deeply suspect to any true American - far from glamorous or even conventionally pretty, bookish with a keep political mind, a self-avowed wonk (just a step up from nerd), she bagged a guy who was one of the most popular guys on campus. That is not done! What dark magic drew people-magnet, Phi Beta Kappa Bill to a relative squib like Hillary Rodham? She lacked even a fraction of his natural charisma, her parents were well-off but far from wealthy, didn't have anything close to his political connections, wasn't particularly polished, her only travel was working her way across Alaska during one college summer.
And yet she nabbed William Jefferson Clinton.
More than anything else, I think this last bit of her biography is what opens people to feeling suspicious of Hillary - she was a nerdy girl who bagged the Big Man On Campus. Clearly, Bill saw in her a counter-weight to his many gifts. He was already recognized at having the star of greatness on his brow. He recognized in her not the love mate that makes our hearts flutter, but the partner who would help bring out qualities that would move him along the path to greatness.
And it happened, just that way.
Hillary was Bill's ballast. That's not very romantic, but it is impressive. Whatever they lacked in romantic love, however he disrespected her with other women, they were true political compadres, joined at the heart & hip.
That sort of pairing is not idealized in the USA. If HRC & Bill hark back to FDR & Eleanor, another unlikely pairing that evolved into the supreme political coupling rather than a love match, they also rival the Roosevelts for the enmity they both - but especially Eleanor & Hillary - stir in American hearts.
There's a litany of iffy & even seemingly dumb things that Hillary has done since giving up her swing at a brilliant law career to move back with Bill to Arkansas, since he went from governor to president, since she became a US Senator, then Secretary of State to the first female presidential candidate.
But the roots of The Gray Lady's catty ways, for the loathing so many of us - including me - feel toward Hillary Rodham Clinton seems set in things that have little to do with her ideology, her questionable judgement, what feels like barely ethical & possibly amoral ways. They seem set in her being someone we can't get our heads around, the nebbishy girl who won the All-American All-Star guy. And I think that has greater power than any of us realize.
Countless millions can't stand HRC because we sense so profoundly that she's not one of us. And that she doesn't care.
THAT, we can't forgive.