U.S. Election

The Clinton Moment

hillary clinton kate boens 3yrs old le claire iowa april 14, 2015 source jennifer dewitt quad city times zuma dpa
Hillary Clinton during her cross-country van tour on Tuesday, April 14, in Le Claire, Iowa, where she stopped to chat with three-year-old Kate Boens.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Hillary Clinton’s campaign is benefiting from the fact that she is practical and tactical, everything President Obama isn’t, and America has a track record of electing leaders who are the opposites of their predecessors.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • As First Lady, Mrs. Clinton’s healthcare reform efforts ran into a brick wall of congressional opposition, forcing President Bill Clinton to drop it.
    • Mrs. Clinton, as a U.S. senator and Secretary of State,  is combative and resilient, rebounding from personal setbacks caused by her husband and partisan adversaries.
    • As U.S. president, Mrs. Clinton would preside over the world’s largest economy and military and be a key political partner to Angela Merkel.
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    Audio

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If you were asked to describe Hillary Clinton in a word, “woman” probably wouldn’t be the first one to come to mind.

This is not to say Mrs. Clinton isn’t feminine or lacks empathy. But her thinking doesn’t revolve around femininity.

The consistent thread in her biography is her ability to pull herself up after falling down, again and again.

The inner core of her personality is marked by a determination to acquire power. She is the lioness of American politics, preparing to pounce on the White House once again.

There is something unconditional beating in Mrs. Clinton’s heart. She doesn’t just accept conflict – she seeks it out.

The 67-year-old is a fighter. It would be unfair to call her callous, but she is certainly tough, a trait honed to a sharp point in the blast furnace of two decades of nonstop partisan struggle. You don’t have to be a neurologist to know that she has nerves of steel.

Of course, she is also capable of shedding tears, but only, it seems, if it’s worthwhile.

It happened once, in the winter of 2008, shortly after her brutal defeat in the Iowa Democratic primary by a then-relatively unknown junior senator from Illinois named Barack Hussein Obama just hours before the next polls were to open in New Hampshire.

While Mr. Obama touched the souls of Iowans, Mrs. Clinton seemed to have gotten stuck in their heads, and not in a good way.

Her only option, at that point, was an emotional outburst, live on CNN.

Voters experienced Hillary’s emotional side for the first time. What a sensation! Her well-placed tears were a smart political investment, and Mrs. Clinton’s defeat in Iowa was followed by her triumph in New Hampshire.

The 2008 campaign was a reflection of her life.

It appears that for Hillary Clinton, the total defeat she has experienced again and again is merely a training camp from which to launch her next bid for power. One of the Republican Party’s favorite slogans is: “Surrender is not an option,” a reference to the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

 

barack obama hillary clinton january 2008 inauguration dpa epa andrew gombert
After being defeated by Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries, Hillary Clinton served as his secretary of state from 2008 through 2012. Here, at President Obama’s 2008 inauguration party. Source: DPA / epa Andrew Gombert

 

But in reality, the slogan more aptly describes the life of Hillary Clinton, for whom surrender is truly not an option.

If we take the words she uses most often at face value, they provide us with an introduction to how this woman thinks and feels: “tough decisions, hard choices, fighting forward.”

She survived the public execution of her marriage during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and remained at Bill’s side, what she in typically understated fashion called a “tough decision.”

At the request of her husband, the 42nd U.S. president, she devised a healthcare reform proposal that would have guaranteed all Americans access to medical care for the first time.

But she was forced to look on as, amid strong Congressional opposition, he tucked away her plan for reasons of political expediency. In an ironic finale of sorts, she helped the man who had stymied her White House ambitions, Barack Obama, implement his version of the plan — and take the credit for it — almost two decades later.

Since then, 41 million Americans have health insurance for the first time.

She suffered a painful defeat in the 2008 Democratic primary, only to secure the position of foreign secretary in Mr. Obama’s administration. She left the Obama cabinet after his first term to return to the campaign trail and prepare a second bid for the White House at 69, at an age only Ronald Reagan dared to run for the country’s highest office.

If political grappling were an Olympic sport, she would have won several gold medals. And if the partisan battles had left behind visible traces, her face would be covered with scars.

The grand prize, the goal of all her political exertions, is not some trophy in the bonfire of the vanities.

It is nothing less than the Office of President of the United States located in the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, still the most powerful institution in the modern world of nations.

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