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April 9, 2006
The Hollywood And Hillary Rift

It appears that one of Bill Clinton's power bases has soured on Hillary and her bid to win back the White House. The Observer (UK) reports that the glitterati in Hollywood have turned their backs on the putative Democratic front-runner, considering her too unreliable as a liberal to support:

With its liberal politics and radical attitudes, Hollywood should be one place in America where Hillary Clinton can count on fervent and loyal support.

But as the former First Lady gears up for a run at the White House her nascent campaign has hit an unexpected roadblock. A lengthening list of top Hollywood celebrities have publicly criticised her ambitions. From George Clooney to Sharon Stone to Susan Sarandon, the Beverly Hills set has turned on Clinton.

Nor are they alone. Vast swaths of American liberals have begun to snipe at their former heroine, attacking her for supporting the war in Iraq and decrying her recent shifts to the right as she positions herself for a presidential campaign. For a woman long derided by conservative critics as a 'feminazi' the irony of the onslaughts from the left must be painful.

Celebrities have queued up to attack her. Kathleen Turner said she 'had her doubts' about Clinton's potential bid. Stone said it was 'too soon' for Clinton to run. Clooney criticised the entire Democrat leadership, including Clinton, for lacking the backbone to speak against the Iraq war. Sarandon, one of the most politically active of the Hollywood elite, was forthright: 'I find Hillary Clinton to be a great disappointment. She's lost her progressive following because of her caution and centrist approach.'

In a way, Hillary has the same problem as John McCain, but for different reasons. McCain has played footsie with the media as a "maverick" and a moderating (supposed) influence on the GOP's right wing. Now he wants to grab the nomination by moving back to the base. Hillary, on the other hand, won her Senate seat as a dyed-in-the-wool liberal and wants to win the nomination as a pro-war centrist.

Both politicians have now discovered that shifting positions has become much more difficult in the Internet age, where every speech and every vote can be recalled for comparison. Harry Reid discovered as much this week when his opposition to illegal immigration in 1993 came back to haunt him thirteen years later. For Hillary and McCain, the time frames are much more compressed than that, and thus less explicable.

Hillary bet that her support of the war would win her some credibility in a general election, and that the thought of returning the Clintons to the White House would be enough to sail through the primaries. If she thinks that, she will find herself very much mistaken. It has been only five years since the Clintons left under a cloud of scandal, and their manner of leaving -- by granting pardons to people such as Marc Rich, who wound up spending his new-found freedom helping to put bribes into the pockets of Saddam Hussein -- left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. The Democrats love Bill's fundraising abilities, but they know that Bill's final days will once again become an issue in any general election involving Hillary.

In order to get through the primaries, then, HIllary will need all the help she can get, including Hollywood. It looks as though her prospects are grim, however, and I suspect they are tooling up for a Russ Feingold campaign. He represents the kind of left-wing purity they most admire, especially his effort to censure or impeach George Bush. The Hollywood elite may wind up skewing the primaries to push an even more radical agenda than what John Kerry presented in 2004. They can make it very difficult for Hillary to get the liftoff she needs to win in the primaries at all, and for that matter, the same will be true for Mark Warner or any other moderate Democrat.

With Hollywood's help, we may find the primary race to come down to Russ Feingold and Dennis Kucinich. As delighted as Tinseltown will be with that result, it won't compare to the joy it will bring to the GOP.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 9, 2006 9:08 PM

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