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With Hillary Clinton out of politics in her role as secretary of state, and overwhelmingly popular to boot, Republicans have for the most part taken a four-year break from attacking her. (Hasn't it been nice?) But with her departure from the role of secretary of state, and the potential that she will run for president in 2016, Republicans are once again considering when and how they will attack her, and even whether they can get the old Hillary-hating magic back at all.
Some Republicans are thinking the unthinkable—that after using Hillary as a boogeyman, or worse, a boogeywoman, for nearly 20 years, they're going to have to find a new trick:
“She will not be the lightning rod she was 20 years ago, for reasons to do with her and more to do with conservatism, which is, I don’t need to tell you, deeply troubled,” [former House member and Fox News host John Leboutillier] said, calling it “an exhaustive, spent volcano at the moment. That encapsulates everything except the tea party, and they don’t have anything to do with Hillary Clinton.”
Others, like Ralph Reed, are optimistic:
“The intensity of the opposition to Hillary Clinton on the right has abated somewhat during her years at the State Department for obvious reasons,” he said. “She’s been a diplomat, not a candidate. But should she begin to test the waters of a presidential candidacy, there will be renewed scrutiny by both the media and her critics, and at least some of the old dynamic will likely return, perhaps with renewed vigor.”
But in the end, both sides are probably right. Hillary Clinton will be attacked in vile and misogynistic ways by the right, because:
One Republican strategist, speaking of the Hillary-hating industry, was more blunt: “If she works in the mail and on the phones with small donors, she’ll get hit. We’ll look stupid. But when did that ever stop us?”
The "we'll look stupid" part of that is important, though. If the media outside the right-wing echo chamber doesn't go along with it, the attacks may raise money against Clinton, but they won't have the same reach and resonance they've had in the past. Who knows, they may even cause enough of a backlash to be counterproductive.
Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 08:22 AM PST.