Hillary fought a good fight – albeit an old-school style political fight. At the start of all this (when did the campaign begin – 1906??), I didn’t particularly care for Hillary, since I’d never much liked her before (I used to describe her as a “cold fish”). However, as the campaign-without-end inched forward, I came to see that she is quite the opposite of cold, she’s a house afire – passionate, courageous and more than able to play with the big boys on their turf. But she rubs people the wrong way and she remains unforgiven for her perceived misdeeds, like forgiving her husband for his indiscretions and being mean to the people in the White House travel office.
I think the We Despise Hillary movement has a lot more to do with her being a smart, uppity woman than anything else. And even though Hillary has become a successful, highly effective Senator, I believe many folks still see her as a former First Lady and will never see her in any other way. As Michelle Obama will learn if she and Barack make it to the White House, much of America doesn’t like an Equal Woman as First Lady; they hated Eleanor Roosevelt for the same reason. It bears noting that the most popular contemporary First Ladies – Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan, in particular – were smart women in positions of considerable power, but they were extremely circumspect about it. For example, we now know, decades later, that it was Jackie who really wrote President Kennedy’s acclaimed Profiles In Courage and it was Nancy who was the…brains…behind Ronnie.
Would things have worked out differently for Hillary if this hadn’t been the year that Obama emerged? I wonder. I think she would have been fighting several lesser contenders, right up to the end, because this country isn’t ready for a woman at the helm. Sexism trumps racism, because most people know in their hearts of hearts that racism is wrong and steeped in stereotypes and ignorance. But sexism is about differing views of womanhood at odds with each other, both of which appear to be legitimate and respectful. Would things have been different if Bill Clinton weren’t part of the package? Maybe. But would Hillary be who she is today if she hadn’t spent her political youth (and middle age) pushing him forward?
I’m prepared to switch my allegiance to Obama, because he is clearly preferable to McBush. I’m also ready to get excited about the First Black President. And I’m beyond ready to have a new President confront the horrendous damage Dubya has done and begin to make things better – if that’s possible. I hope Obama is as good as his pretty words; he has five months to show us what lies beneath his rhetoric. I sure was looking forward to seeing the formidable Mrs. Clinton as Madam President, and I wanted to see what precedent Bill would set as America’s First Gentleman. But that’s all in the past now – and I’m prepared to focus on the future. Congrat-ulations on a strong effort, Hillary, and best of luck to you in whatever comes next. Barack, the ball is in your court. Please don’t fuck it up.