Of all the great American political traditions, there is perhaps none more instructive than the progressive tendency to sentimentalize Republicans from years past. You can effectively set your watch by it: Whatever Republican ran for office four or eight or twelve years ago is bound to be looked upon far more favorably than whatever Republican is currently on the ticket.For example?
... just four short years ago [Mitt Romney] was the Health-Care-Stealing Demon from Hell, a man who -- if you believed liberals -- may or may not have personally murdered several cancer-stricken Americans, a man who was a raging homophobe and a dog-killer, a guy who was so retrograde that he said things like “binders full of women.” He was the worst.That last bit is from an article Alex Pareene wrote for Salon titled "The Romney Presidency: The Worst-Case Scenario," so, by definition, it's describing what Pareene thought might happen at worst in a Romney presidency, not what would be inevitable. But still: That's pretty extreme! And now liberals are saying some nice things about Romney! I bet the right is never hypocritical this way!
Well, this year he’s up for sainthood in the Church of Progressivism....
Over the summer, prominent Democratic politicians and operatives positively gushed about Romney’s sterling character. “He was in it for the right reasons,” said Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager from 2012. Obama’s campaign secretary from the same year, Ben LaBolt, claimed that “I don’t think anybody would have truly expected the country to go to hell in a handbasket” if Romney won the election.
This is, of course, utterly laughable; liberals in 2012 claimed that Romney would be a “disaster” for women, that he and “capitalist extremists” wanted to “destroy America,” that, in the event of a Romney presidency, we’d “be at war and pretty soon there won’t be any more Medicare or Social Security plus the rich will keep getting richer and abortion will be illegal in most of the country.”
Well, let's go back to March 2008 and let Steve Kornacki tell us how Hillary Clinton was suddenly being transformed from an Antichrist into a really swell person -- surely a sincere change of heart on conservatives' part that had nothing whatsoever to do with the desire to create a rift between pro-Clinton Democrats and Democratic supporters of the then-insurgent Barack Obama:
On a hot August night in the Astrodome 16 years ago, Pat Buchanan ... singled out the “lawyer-spouse” of the Democratic presidential nominee....So, shockingly, conservatives do this, too. And each of these right-wingers has done another 180 on Hillary Clinton this year.
“Friends,” Buchanan [said], “this is radical feminism. The agenda Clinton and Clinton would impose on America -- abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat -- is change ... but it’s not the kind of change we can tolerate in a nation that we still call God’s country.”
... [But now] Buchanan ... has taken to promoting [Clinton] on an almost nightly basis on MSNBC as the salvation for working class, culturally conservative “Reagan Democrats,” an electable antidote to Barack Obama, whom Buchanan now skewers as the same kind of nutty leftist he once branded Hillary....
Others on the right are making the same case.
A decade ago, The National Review’s Rich Lowry branded Hillary “a practitioner of the odious political style of the enlightened Baby Boomer.” But now, with Obama poised to win the Democratic nomination, Lowry is rushing to Clinton’s defense, praising her “a serious person, afflicted, as she put it once, with ‘a responsibility gene.’” ...
Or take Howie Carr, a vitriolic conservative radio host and Boston Herald columnist who spent much of the last 15 years portraying Hillary as the mortal enemy of Joe Six-Packs everywhere. “An ashtray-tossing shrew,” he dubbed her back when she was First Lady.
Now? In his most recent column, he portrayed her as something of a champion of the common-sense, law-abiding working man, arguing that her supporters are “those who work with their hands” while Obama’s are “those who don’t work, period.”
“Clinton voters,” he also wrote, “know who caused 9/11 -- Arab terrorists. Obama voters know who caused 9/11 -- Halliburton.”
Buchanan now writes about her "revealed bigotries" (against white working-class people, he says) and tells us she "will continue Obama’s campaign to deprive Christian institutions of the autonomy to resist the advance of the sexual revolution," among other sins.
Lowry now informs us that Clinton doesn't understand ISIS, that she is "boring, unlikable and untrustworthy," and that her "lies vindicate the Clinton haters."
Carr's hatred for Clinton is so toxic that he recently published, at Breitbart, a fake list of "25 More Things You Don't Know About Hillary Clinton," in her voice. The list included the following:
6. I haven’t seen my ankles in 30 years....Oh, and I skipped the one in which Carr implied that Clinton killed Vince Foster ("4. Believe it or not, I have never once visited Fort Marcy Park in McLean").
9. My daughter Chelsea has the cutest nickname for her father -- she calls him “Webb.”
14. I have a Muslim girlfriend.
So no, liberals do not have a monopoly on this sort of thing.