One of the mysteries of 2016 is the degree to which Hillary Clinton is reviled. Not just rationally opposed but viscerally and instinctively hated. None of the stated reasons for the animus seem to satisfy. Yes, she’s careful and cagey, and her use of a private email server, which the F.B.I. flung back into the news on Friday, was a big mistake. But no, she’s not more dishonest than other politicians, and compared with her opponent, she’s George Washington. Her policies, even where bold, are hardly on the subversive fringe.
Yet she’s cast not just as a political combatant but as a demon who, in the imaginings of Republicans like Paul D. Ryan, the speaker of the House, and Representative Trent Franks, would create an America “where passion — the very stuff of life — is extinguished” (the former) and where fetuses would be destroyed “limb from limb” (the latter).
Donald J. Trump and his supporters posit their antipathy as a reaction to Mrs. Clinton’s accumulated record over “30 years in power.” It’s important to recall that she was deranging Republicans on Day 1. Understanding her demonization requires admitting her full significance in our political history, for she is not simply a pioneering woman fighting an Ur-misogyny. Mrs. Clinton faces a two-headed Cerberus, an artificial conjoining that occurred in the early 1990s, of wounded Republican invincibility and wounded male prerogative. Our current political crisis won’t be resolved until those forces are separated and the Cerberus slain.
Susan Faludi, “How Hillary Clinton Met Satan”, The New York Times (30 October 2016), SR5.