Hillary Clinton

If Secretary of State Clinton serves for President Obama’s first full term in office, she will have completed a 20-year run on the forefront of American politics from 1992 to 212. The first eight were spent as arguably the most influential First Lady in American history, the next eight as one of the most important members of the Senate, and the next four in her current position. If Obama wins a second term she could stay on four another four years at State. In 2016, she could run for President, win, and serve two terms. All this is very, very conceivable. In a poll released today by CNN, Clinton was voted the most qualified out of probable future contenders for the White House (“CNN Poll: Palin Not Qualified for Presidency”). An eight-year Hillary Clinton presidency would lead to an unprecedented thirty-two years at the top of American politics. Of course she would also be America’s first female President. Obviously, there is something very, very special about Hillary Clinton.

One of the most interesting things about Secretary Clinton is the intense feelings she provokes. Many conservatives believe she is the devil. This lead one man to ask John McCain at a campaign rally “How do we beat the bitch?” (sexist much?) when it looked like Clinton would skate through the primaries. Conversely, many liberals believe Clinton is the devil as well. I believe one of the reasons for this intense rejection of Clinton is sexism: we many cannot stand nor accept seeing “a woman in charge” as Carl Bernstein has described her. These people are used to seeing our leaders be men who often have personas as “tough guys” and will only stand for seeing men being in charge.

Further, these people can’t stand seeing a woman with such intense ambition.  What concerns me most is that many Democrats were turned off by her ambition.  John Heilemann of New York Magazine has written, “Hillary’s greatest political vulnerability has always been the sense among many voters that she is ambition incarnate. That she’s forever shimmying up the greasy pole. That everything she does and says is all about her own advancement (“Hillary Reborn”).The modern Democratic Party has never been averse to electing Presidents with huge ambition—JFK, Carter, Bill Clinton, and Obama. When Hillary Clinton ran for President in 2008, she had more experience than each of these Presidents. Yet throughout the primaries we heard discussion that Clinton’s candidacy was all about herself and her ambition. The scary thing about the people who didn’t support Clinton for these reasons are not people in our society who we outwardly call sexists. These people are supposed to be liberal: the people who believe in acceptance and the greater good. Yet many had an irrational fear of all things Hillary Clinton.

People also don’t like Clinton because they claim she is who she is only because she is Bill Clinton’s wife. No one can deny this has its benefits. However, in Carl Bernstein’s biography of the Secretary of State, A Woman in Charge, (a good read) he presents the case that Hillary would still be Hillary even if she never married William Jefferson Clinton. Bernstein asserts with ample evidence that Hillary was already on the fast lane of political success before she met WJC. Before she met WJC she was already nationally known and was on her way to becoming one of the most influential students in the history of Yale. Further, Bernstein even deliberates whether or not Hillary would have been more successful than she is if she didn’t marry the 42nd President.

One of the debates that have always surrounded Clinton is whether or not she is a true feminist, or even a feminist at all. Her time as Secretary of State has answer the questions and the answer is yes. Clinton has made women’s rights and equality one of her top issues as America’s number one diplomat. In particular, Clinton has focused on women’s rights in Africa and developing countries. Carol Hymowitz of Forbes has written “Clinton’s championing of women, and her efforts to meet large numbers of women outside government who don’t attend ministerial meetings, suggests she will put her own stamp on the Obama administration’s foreign policy. She also hopes to redefine the effort toward gender equality as a goal needed to reduce poverty and promote global democracy and peace” (“Secretary Clinton Presses For Women’s Rights”). As Secretary of State, Clinton herself has stated “I happen to believe that the transformation of women’s roles is the last great impediment to universal progress — that we have made progress on many other aspects of human nature that used to be discriminatory bars to people’s full participation. But in too many places and too many ways, the oppression of women stands as a stark reminder of how difficult it is to realize people’s full human potential (Lander).

Agree with her policies or not, it is impossible to deny the importance of Hillary Clinton. I am of the belief that the economy will get better in the next year or so and that Obama will handily win a second term. If this happens I fully expect to see our first woman President elected in 2016.