The candidate

Published by James M. Perry on .

clintonShirtHillary Rodham Clinton was not just the First Lady; she was the first lady in all kinds of things.

  • First female student comrnencement speaker, Wellesley College, 1969 (the ovation when she finished lasted seven minutes).
  • First female partner, Rose Law Firm, in Arkansas, 1979 (she made $200,000 a year, more than Bill)
  • First First Lady to be subpoened, in the Whitewater mess, 1996.
  • First First Lady to run for office, in New York, for senator, 2000.
  • First female senator to represent New York State. 2001.
  • First First Lady to serve in a presidential cabinet (Obama’s), 2009.

No female politician in American history has compiled such a diverse and impressive career. There’s something in it for almost everybody, including Republican operatives who make a living digging up dirt about about Democrats (Democrats do it, too, about Republicans).

It didn’t start out that way. Hillary came from a typically conservative household in Park Ridge, Ill. She campaigned for Barry Goldwater in 1964 and was president of the Young Republicans her freshman year at Wellesley. She attended the 1968 Republican convention in Miami Beach and didn’t like the way Nixon treated Nelson Rockeffeller. The drift from right to left had begun.

Her senior thesis at Wellesley in 1969 --she got an “A” -- was a 92-page critique of the tactics of the radical community organizer, Saul Alinsky. Wellesley suppressed it from 1993 to 2001. Republicans had hoped it might contain early signs of Hillary’s radicalization. It doesn’t. Still, she was writing about Saul Alinsky.

She entered the Yale Law School in the fall of 1970, just as Bobby Seale, one of the founders of the Black Panthers, was going on trial on charges connected to the murder of a fellow Black Pantherr. These were wild and tumultuous days at Yale, just as they were on so many anti-war campuses. What was Hillary’s role in all of this? Not entirely clear. What we do know is that in the summer of 1971 she accepted an internship at an Oakland, California, law firm, Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein. Treuhaft had been a member of the Communist Party until 1958. Doris Walker was still a member.
Not only was she working with Communists; she was also sleeping with Bill, who had joined her in Oakland.

She married Bill October 11, 1975, giving birth to Chelsea in 1980. She was named Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983 and Arkansas Mother of the Year in 1984. So much for flirting with communists and “living in sin.” Hillary had become a fairly traditional Democratic liberal.

If she runs for President in 2016, and almost surely she will, Republicans will no doubt drag up those days in 1970 and 1971 and paint her as some kind of closet radical.

I’m not sure that will work. Hillary Clinton is an extremely smart woman and she will give the Republicans as much, or more, as they give her. What might be a bigger problem is the sheer Superwoman status of this amazing woman. It provokes envy. People feel intimidated. I suspect Republicans fear her in ways they have never feared Obama.

The latest Gallup poll shows that Mrs. Clinton’s favorability rating has slipped to 58 per cent, still higher than anyone else’s. It will slip more as the election nears. She will no longer be an icon; she will be a Democrat.

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