Now that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is underway in earnest, I’m going to begin a series of roundup posts that summarize the day’s news in Hillaryland, including posts that criticize, posts that praise, posts that analyze, and posts that examine the media’s coverage of what is sure to be one of the most closely scrutinized presidential campaigns in modern history.
Anyone who knows me knows I have Feelings about Hillary. As a teenager in the Clinton era, I watched with horror and empathy as the Clintons’ complicated relationship was laid bare on national television, online, and in the Starr Report. As a supporter of Hillary during the 2008 primary, I was truly mortified to see the way some members of the Obama mob treated her, insisting the old lady get off the stage and silently cede her ambitions to the hope and change generation. And as a feminist, I remember my excitement at seeing a moderately progressive woman being taken seriously in the national arena, as someone who could and might serve as the nation’s first (first, in the year 2015) female President.
I have complicated feelings about Hillary. Her hawkish positions on U.S. dealings in Afghanistan and Syria. Her “safe, legal, and rare” dodge on abortion rights. Her tight relationship with Wall Street, which belies some of the populist economic rhetoric from her (generally excellent) announcement video.
But I’m also excited for a Hillary candidacy, because I do believe she will put people first, that she is strongly motivated by a passion for human rights, and that she will put “women’s issues” (ahem. They are everyone’s issues), here and internationally, front and center at a time when those rights are being eroded in state legislatures across the country.
Obama, despite his lip service to the ladies, always treated women’s rights as an issue people should sort-of care about because we (tacitly: men) all have “mothers and daughters,” not as a primary goal of his administration. Hillary has lived through 20 years of sexist slings from the right and left, through a marriage almost derailed by her husband’s affairs with younger women, through years and years of being told to stand on the sidelines while the men got to business.
Detractors, who said it wasn’t “her time” when she pushed health care reform in 1993, when she ran for Senate in 2001, and when she ran for President in 2008, are now saying her time has passed. If you’re convinced that any Baby Boomer is too out of touch to run the country, feel free to caucus for Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or whoever wets your whistle. If not, I suggest that instead of dismissing Hillary as passé or more of the same, you should give her a chance to prove she deserves your vote.