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So why do they all hate Hillary? I’d like to opine on this week’s pervasive puzzler, raised here and elsewhere. To begin, I don’t think it’s because she’s a woman. There are too many strong-minded women in public life to make that plausible. If you say, “Yes, but not in the U.S.,” I’d reply that Hillary evokes all-encompassing hostility far more widely, and offer myself as an example.

My answer is: they hate her because she wants them to. She likes it and wouldn’t have it any other way. She elicits it. My evidence comes from the 60 Minutes interview she did a few days ago. She said, “I don’t know what [the Republican] convention was about aside from criticizing me. I seem to be the only unifying theme.” Well, that’s drawing a target on yourself, yet you could say the same about the focus on Trump at this week’s Democratic event.

Then host Scott Pelley asked why she’s so distrusted. “I often feel there is the Hillary standard and then there is a standard for everyone else,” she said. He asked what the Hillary standard is. She replied with gusto: “Well, it’s … unfounded, inaccurate, mean-spirited attacks with no basis in truth, reality …”

She could have said she didn’t know and preferred to discuss real issues. Politicians deflect questions all the time. She must know it sounds whiny, she’s been advised not to do it. But she didn’t just rise to the bait, she relished it.

And no basis in reality? Really, Hillary? What about the emails, reversals on trade deals or gay marriage, refusal to release transcripts of speeches to Goldman Sachs — see how aggravated I already am! It amounts to self-sabotage, as if she gets more satisfaction from feeling persecuted than from getting on with it. She creates her own private Hillocaust and wallows in it.

This kind of behaviour is less freakish than it sounds. Ken Dryden once said, regarding a recent Leafs’ goaltending solution — perhaps Reimer: The question is, does he want to be a saviour or a martyr? All goalies are one or the other. The original model for the type — Jesus of Nazareth — managed to combine both.

And, oh, the gracelessness of complaining when you’ve had a life of such privilege and opportunity, compared to most people. If she didn’t persist and remind people of why they hate her it might fade away. It needs active stoking.

Hubby Bill opened a possible alternate route Tuesday, calling her a “change-maker.” Van Jones on CNN was agog. She’s “one of these workaholic dogooder women,” he gasped. “I know these people!” Will she stress that instead? Doubtful. Why?

As Thomas Frank says in his book on liberals, she’s utterly certain of her moral purity and necessity. She goes on listening tours. But she comes up with answers and she’s never wrong, nor are her motives in doubt. They have needs, she gives solutions — a recipe for megalomania and damage. Those she identifies with aren’t the needy, who get her pity and sympathy. It’s other dogooders with answers, like rich technocrats in Silicon Valley — such as Bill Gates — who she allies with, even when they do immense harm, as Gates has by messing with education. She doesn’t do mistaken, aside from terse asides (“As I’ve said …”)

In 1998, she denounced a “vast right-wing conspiracy” out to get her and Bill. (Not vast enough, though, to include Goldman Sachs and most of Wall Street.) Personally, I think there are such conspiracies. But the point is, she won’t admit any personal blame for the reactions to her — or even a place in some right-wing, corporate cabals herself. She is pure, they must be out to get her. For most people, who are more aware of how baffling human behaviour can be, that rings false. Plus it’s really irritating. None of which changes my conviction that, if I had a vote down there, I’d cast it joylessly for her.

One last thought, based on personal observation. People who look like they don’t care what others think and seem morally certain often care most of all. Why do they keep doing things to offend even those closest to them? Because their need for approval is so great, it must prove it can withstand even deeply off-putting behaviour on their part. With great need comes great provocation.

This column was first published in the Toronto Star.

Photo: Disney | ABC Television Group/flickr

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Rick Salutin

Rick Salutin is a Canadian novelist, playwright and critic. He is a strong advocate of left wing causes and writes a regular column in the Toronto Star.