Ms. Know-It-All, the anonymous political advice columnist whose identity remains a popular Georgetown cocktail party guessing game, is also known to live up to her title now and then. Herewith a correspondence worth sharing.
Dear Ms. Know-It-All:
It appears that the witch Hillary Rodham Clinton is going to run for president. It makes my skin crawl to think of her and that husband of hers back in our White House, not to mention that they are Marxists like Obama and want to turn us into Sweden, for God's sake. It's not too soon for Republicans to marshal our forces for a little shock and awe when the Hildebeast finally announces. How can we stop her?
Signed, A proud, God-fearing, right-wing wacko-bird.
Thank you for what seems to be your sincere interest in participating in our country's health and welfare. And thanks, too, for contacting me because you need to hear what I have to say. You might want to sit down for this. If you're on anti-anxiety medication, all the better.
You are, how shall I put this? Idiot seems too strong, so I'll go with foolish little man. "The witch Hillary"? Yes, I saw the little photo on Drudge with Hillary wearing a witch's hat. Clever! And on Halloween, too. The headline suggested that someone somewhere should be upset that she earned close to $500,000 for two speeches for Goldman Sachs.
I do believe I detect the scent of envy. Is that the best you've got? I don't think I heard you folks express outrage when Sarah Palin was paid $100,000 a clip, and she was just a short-term governor and a failed vice-presidential candidate. Ronald Reagan once was paid $2 million for two 20-minute speeches by a Japanese manufacturing company.
You get my drift. Speakers are commodities and they earn what they're worth to an audience. A former U.S. senator and secretary of state who also was once first lady is not a coupon item.
To the larger point, you must stop witchifying this woman. She has one of the best resumes in the country, certainly compared to anyone who might challenge her. This doesn't speak to her personality, which seems to aggravate a certain kind of male, or to her involvement with issues that have inspired legitimate criticism. But in hurling personal insults, you are hurting only yourself. The bully always looks worse than the bullied. In so doing, you not only seem juvenile but look petty and bereft of substantive arguments. While you consider this assessment, imagine how much Hillary must welcome such schoolboy taunts.
Pivot now to your less-than-sterling record with women voters. Does the "war on women" ring a bell? I understand that this was mainly a fiction created by the Obama campaign (brilliant, I must say), but you had some help from a couple of star witnesses regarding "legitimate rape" and God's will when a rape victim becomes pregnant. Why, do tell, would you be surprised that women who value their autonomy in making the most personal decisions might view such statements as "war"?
My point: Don't attack a woman as a woman. No allusions to awful female characters or anything to do with her appearance. If you have to resort to commentary about someone's personal attributes, assuming they're not wearing ridiculous headgear, you are signaling that you have no arrows in your quiver.
This is especially relevant to women candidates for two reasons. One, men beating up a woman summons a number of associations that only make women recoil in revulsion. Two, while you were hunkering in your duck blind, women the world over were getting busy organizing and helping each other. There's a global movement afoot in which Hillary Clinton has played a crucial part. If you attack her, all but the most rigidly ideological women will circle the wagons and you will lose. On the bright side, you won't have to worry anymore about birth control. Your own, that is.
At the moment, though Hillary's ratings have slipped a bit, the GOP holds the distinction of being the first party in polling history to have a negative rating over 50 percent (53), according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey.
Thus, my advice: Marshal your sharpest thinkers and create a product that people want. If you can't win with the strength of your arguments and the clarity of your vision, you can at least lose with your dignity intact -- a decent start to a much-needed Republican Reformation. Good luck.
Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post.