In dumpster-diving through the day's National Review Online blog posts, I found this little nugget from an NRO contributor, who gives us a more honest look into the current Republican mindset than she probably intended:
Let's say last night really did indicate that Hillary's negatives will keep her off the ticket. (Or keep her from winning if she's on it.) You know what? Deep in my psyche, in the place that kind of misses the toothache I've been prodding at with my tongue, I am having a tiny little pang of missing Hillary. Not her, but hating her. Hating Hillary has been such a central political impulse for so long now — 15 years — and I have had to work so hard to keep it up as she became more appealling looking, less shrill, more human — I don't really know what I will do with that newly freed strand of energy.
Oh, I'm sure the right wing will think of something, but whatever it is, it's hard to see them pursuing it with nearly the zeal that they've pursued "hating Hillary." They've spent more than 15 years blasting Mrs. Clinton with double barrels of hate, to the point where the vision of Hillary as Antichrist became every bit as ingrained a part of the GOP platform as lower taxes or free access to firearms. Countless books have been written about Hillary and the nefarious designs she had on ascending to greater political influence after Bill's term ended. Right-wingers were outwardly dismayed when she entered the political race, but inside they were overjoyed, because it gave even greater purpose to their mudslinging and conspiracy-mongering; in a sick way, her supposed inevitability was a godsend for them, because it gave them a distraction from the fact that none of their own candidates were all that inspiring. Nobody was getting all that jazzed about campaigning for Romney or Thompson, but by God, they could get amped like a mofo at the prospect of campaigning against Hillary.
With Hillary coming in a surprising third in Iowa, the right-wingers are obviously enjoying some belly laughs at her expense. But once the short-term Schadenfreude of watching her stumble wears off, these folks, like Lisa Schiffren above, are going to be a little bummed. Here they had a shot at facing their absolute most hated enemy in the race for the presidency -- the equivalent, for a Georgia fan like myself, would be somehow getting matched up with Tennessee in the BCS national championship game -- thus justifying all the work they'd put in digging up dirt and stoking the hate-fires and giving them a chance to put it to its ultimate use one last time. And now . . . it may not happen. It's kind of like the reverse of the story about Brer Rabbit and the briar patch: All these years the right-wingers were saying pleeeeease don't throw me in that briar patch, pleeeeease don't let Hillary Clinton run for president, all the while secretly hoping that she actually would. And now it's like Brer Bear has decided not to throw them in the briar patch after all.
Now, all that's if Hillary falters in New Hampshire and fails to win the nomination, an outcome I'm not about to put money on just yet. There's a long way to go, and the right-wingers should know as well as anybody how strong and resourceful Hillary is. But if she doesn't get the nomination in August, it'll be real interesting to see what the Republicans do with all that energy they've built up. For the past decade or so, the Republicans have only been as strong as their hate, and a Hillary nomination would green-light them to let loose with the mother of all dirty Rovian campaigns; but with, say, Obama, that might backfire in a big way. Certainly there are perfectly sane people out there who view Obama with indifference (toward his policies) or even mild-to-moderate scorn (toward his relative inexperience), but only the most wacked-out Muslim-baiters on Free Republic or Little Green Footballs have been able to openly treat him with hate. Even Bill Bennett was on CNN the other night talking about what a great thing Obama's win was for America.
Just as I'm interested to see how much of a wedge Mike Huckabee might end up driving in the Republican coalition, I'm very curious to see what will happen if Hillary falls short of the Democratic nomination and the right-wing noise machine has to find somewhere else to aim its guns. Good Lord, what will Rush Limbaugh and Neal Boortz do for the next 10 months if they don't have Hitlery to kick around? We already know Rush doesn't make the best choices regarding his free time -- are we gonna be able to find him a hobby engrossing enough to keep him away from the pills? Will Neal be able to come up with a fun derogatory nickname for Obama, or will he punt and resort to "accidentally" slipping up and calling him Osama? This alone could bring about the death of talk radio, people. Hating Hillary's become an industry, and if she can't get things going in New Hampshire then that's gonna be as good as taking food out of some people's mouths.