When I was teaching English I accumulated quite a few books on words, and one of my favorites was William Safire’s On Language. Safire was a columnist for the New York Times and had a great love for the language, a love matched only by his unrestrained hatred for then-First Lady Hillary Clinton.
In January 1996 Safire wrote an op-ed piece for the Times called “Blizzard of Lies,” which opened thus: “Americans of all political persuasions are coming to the sad realization that our First Lady—a woman of undoubted talents who was a role model for many in her generation—is a congenital liar.”
Safire died in 2009, but his legacy of lies and half-truths which gave birth to right-wing radio’s assault on Clinton continues today; in fact, it is the basis for Donald Trump’s run for the presidency, since he obviously has no platform. Pillory Hillary—than hope for the best.
Unfortunately Safire proved none of his accusations in that 1996 piece, but even that attitude in a way has paved the way for right-wing radio to do the same. Listen to some passages from “Blizzard of Lies:” (The italics are mine.)
…the records show Hillary Clinton was lying when she denied actively representing a criminal enterprise known as the Madison S.& L., and indicate she may have conspired…
She lied for good reason: To admit otherwise would be to confess taking, and paying taxes on, what some think amounted to a $100,000 bribe.
Again, she lied with good reason: to avoid being identified as a vindictive political power player who used the F.B.I. to ruin the lives of people standing in the way of juicy patronage.
Another reason for recent revelations is the imminent turning of former aides and partners of Hillary against her.
She may have conspired, some think, a power player, the imminent turning—nowhere is there any proof and never were there criminal charges brought against her. In fact, if she had not tried to become a political power player, this piece would never have been written. Politics has always been the province of men, many of whom want to keep it that way. Men can battle and claw and fight and cheat, but women are not allowed to play that game. Remember when the First Lady fought for universal health care in the nineties? Remember the rancor and malice?
And another thing, you know how the Republicans assail Mrs. Clinton for all the money she made for those Wall Street speeches? $200,000 an appearance? Go back and look at what Trump apologist Rudy Giuliani made in the years leading up to his failed presidential run in 2008. Some say it exceeds $40 million. Nobody complained: he isn’t a woman.
William Safire has been dead for seven years, and since he cannot defend himself, I would be less than charitable if I accused him of sexism. But let’s face it—sexism remains the most “respectable” form of bigotry, winked at by the powerful men who run the country. It’s ironic that the Republicans who frighten us with their references to sharia law and its subjugation of women continue to use sexist criticisms to subjugate Mrs. Clinton. That glass ceiling—since it is after all made of glass—is hard to see, but it’s there. And it’s thick.
So please, before you drink the Kool-Aid about two terrible candidates in 2016, do some research. Find out how talk radio and right-wing websites created the Hillary Clinton that Republicans want to run against; then find out what she’s done with her life these past forty-odd years. There’s a big discrepancy there, and the more you know, the more you realize that we have only one terrible candidate.