President Barack Obama (D-tepid centrism except in support of the imperial Presidency) has inspired incredibly frenzied outpourings of anger and hate. Bill Clinton (D-tepid centrism except about sex) inspired what for its time was similarly frenzied.
The frenzy of delegitimizing the 1992 election worked so well for Republicans that there was no way they'd abjure it this time around. Sure enough, given the sharp limits on the intelligence, memory, and discernment of bullshit from reality of the American electorate, it worked again in 2010 for the GOP. Now it will take many Republican electoral failures of much greater depth than 2006 and 2008 to convince them not to be petulant 2-year-olds again every time they lose.
Any Democrat who won the Presidency in 2008 would have faced the refusal of Republicans to accept the legitimacy of the election - no matter how comfortable the margin, and remember that Obama completely kicked John McCain's butt from sea to shining sea.
Hillary Clinton, whom many would now retrospectively elect, would have been trashed again. Doesn't anyone remember what the wingnuts said about conspiracies to murder, distribute drugs, and corruptly enrich herself? Wingnuts right in the middle of the GOP. How could anyone forget their politics of personal destruction?
In the alternate universe where she did get elected, people are wishing that fresh young Illinois Senator had gotten the nod instead. He has such a sweet personality and such a message of non-partisan comity that surely no one, not even a Republican Party built from the ground up on the model of Lee Atwater's scorched earth politics (with a secret handshake in honor of the failed potential of Joe McCarthy), not even that Republican Party could have put him through the vicious attacks they've put Hillary through. Yeah, don't call me Shirley.
There's one difference between the way Barack has been calumnied and the way Hillary would have been. That difference is the birther movement.
Sure, Republicans would have found sex-related ways to attack her, as they did when she was the wrong kind of wife to Bill - no cookie-baking, no juicy divorce suit from the woman scorned, no willing smiling silent deference to men. They would have attacked her for menses and hot flashes at the same time. It would have been ugly.
But the birther movement is about Obama being the wrong color. He's brown, and he has foreign heritage that's not European and not Christian. How could he possibly be American? He's not from the right tribe.
No, it's not only race that matters in the Republican platform of bigotry. They assert religious correctness too. Catholics (finally!) are o.k. now. All Irish may apply. But no Muslims. They might bring their religious values to the public square, and that means they'll try to enact scary-a, I mean, sharia.
The framers of the Constitution had this to say in Article VI of the Constitution:
[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.Republicans, even rabbit front-runner Mitt Romney, are happy to promise a religious test as long as it appeals to their bigoted party (as proven by its birtherism):
Republicans don't love religious liberty; they love religious liberty for people who think as they do.Again, one party in American politics is tepid, easily bullied, and often won't stand up for its own views. The other is actively evil and opposed to the founding ideas of our nation. So of course the Republicans project their own opposition to liberal democracy, as framed 225 years ago, onto the Democrats, and the Democrats fail to call them the scurrilous, opportunistic, authoritarian liars they are.