Say what you want about her politics — love her, hate her, oranything in between — throughout her career one thing is constant. No one has ever accepted Hillary Clinton’s right to speak for herself.
In the early 90s, it was all about how she was too liberal. It was the conventional wisdom that she was far more liberal than her husband. I still remember all the attacks on her for being an outspoken feminist, and the refusal to accept her desire to work for the public interest.
In the late 90s, she was attacked relentlessly for choosing to stay with her husband despite his affair. Never mind that being her personal choice. Then when she got into politics, she was smeared with all the usual tropes against strong women in politics: ambitious, calculating, ruthless.
(Is it any wonder that she reacted by forming a shell? The media, led by certain outlets we all know and love, spent a decade tearing her to shreds not just as a politician, but as a person. She emerged with a siege mentality which arguably handicapped her for the rest of her political career).
In 2008, she lost a heartbreaking primary. She dealt with defeat in an incredibly graceful way, endorsing her opponent unambiguously, with passion, and working her heart out to get him elected. After the election, she accepted an offer to serve as his Secretary of State.
What did she get in return? She became a lightning rod for grievances against the president from the left. All of Obama’s deviations from perfection — not to mention her husband’s — became her responsibility. In late 2015 and early 2016, she was accused at every turn of being a secret Republican. Of being against universal health care despite having proposed it and fought for it in the early 1990s. Of being singlehandedly responsible for Iraq, Afghanistan, and every other foreign policy mistake over the last 25 years (say what you want about her decisions, some of the criticism was far over the top). Of being a tool of Wall Street. Hell, she was accused of being anti-choice.
The fact that these criticisms were the exact opposite of the criticisms thrown at her in the 1990s was irrelevant. Neither narrative really matched reality. Clinton has been a fairly mainstream Democrat for her entire political life…..