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Hillary Clinton: The Movie

April 11, 2012

I wrote yesterday that Rick Santorum will become the 2016 Republican front-runner the day after Mitt Romney loses to President Obama.  Maureen Dowd wrote today about Hillary Clinton’s “newly cool image,” enhanced by this very funny Internet meme.  Dowd opines that Clinton is now at her “least polarizing,” and wonders if she might be up for another run in 2016.

I was a pretty big Bill Clinton fan, but I am a huge Hillary Clinton fan.  She’s liberal, smart, and extremely capable.  Bill is all that, but he trips over his own feet a whole lot more than Hillary does.  In a political world full of Clinton-haters, Bill still managed to be one of his own worst enemies.

As First Lady, Hillary saw power up close.  She met pretty much everyone who runs pretty much any country in the world, including ours.  And now that she’s served a term in the United States Senate and a term as Secretary of State, no one can say she’s riding Bill Clinton’s coattails; now he’s riding hers.

But what I really like about Clinton is her resiliency and her resourcefulness.  When Charlie Rangel persuaded her to run for Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s old Senate seat, she knew she was open to the “carpetbagger” charge; she had to beat the rap of the media starlet who condescends to represent New York.  She did her homework.  She went on a “listening tour,” traveling the state and meeting with small groups of New Yorkers, carefully studying the voters’ concerns.  She didn’t treat the Senate seat as her entitled throne; she worked for it.

When she was elected, Clinton set aside her animosity toward Republican Senators who had aided the “vast right-wing conspiracy” against her and President Clinton (remember Travelgate, Whitewatergate, Filegate, impeachment, and the assassination of Vince Foster?), and got to business.  Senators who expected her to bear grudges conceded that she went out of her way to work with them.

There may be some who will never forgive Clinton for running against Barack Obama, but I’m not one of them.  Clinton came closer to the nomination of a major party than any other woman in American history and, in my hagiographic judgment, when it comes to running against an African-American candidate, she showed us how it should be done.  She treated Obama with respect, but not with the kid gloves that Jesse Jackson got in 1984 and 1988.  Clinton went after Obama with everything she had, except race.  She did lapse once or twice – as he did (“You’re likable enough, Hillary”).  If there is any doubt that she ran a decent, respectful campaign against Obama in 2008, just wait a few months and draw some comparisons to how Romney runs against Obama in 2012.

She fought a hard fight and she lost.  Obama then shrewdly asked her to be his secretary of state.  She agreed, and, again, she has taught us how it should be done.  She’s not the Henry Kissinger-sized ego or theoretician; she’s the practical, problem-solving, know-who-you-are-and-what-you-can-really-get-done secretary of state.  It’s not possible that she and President Obama have never disagreed, but it’s not possible to see the disagreements from outside the White House.

So here’s a scenario to ponder:  Hillary Clinton versus Rick Santorum in 2016.  The hard-headed liberal, Yale-educated woman engaged with the world, newly hi-tech cool, “gay rights is human rights” Democrat, versus the cultural conservative, anti-intellectual, home-schooling, Tea Party-endorsed, “gay sex is like man-on-dog sex” Republican.

That’s a movie I’d stay up late for.

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