Then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton waves as the arrives at Lusaka International Airport in Lusaka, Zambia, in 2011. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)
By James M. Perry
So it's official. Hillary Rodham Clinton is running for president.
And both Dan Balz in the Washington Post and Amy Chozick in the New York Times, among others, want to know why she's running.
That question strikes me as faintly sexist. Why shouldn't she run for president? Why are Jeb Bush and Rand Paul and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and all the rest running for president? Has anyone seriously asked them about that?
Why do people run for president? Sometimes it's for a very good reason. George Washington ran for President to create a working Federal government. Abraham Lincoln ran to save the Union and free the slaves. Franklin D. Roosevelt ran to end the disastrous Great Depression. Ronald Reagan ran to cut the blooming size of the Federal government.
Surely, though, people run for president because they have powerful egos and think they would do a good job in the White House. They just don't think they should admit that.
I'm certain that Ms. Clinton has a powerful ego and wants to be the country's first female president. But she also seems eminently qualified to seek the presidency. She lived side by side with Bill Clinton, her husband, for eight years in the White House. She was at his side when he was governor of Arkansas. She turned up in New York and won a seat in the U.S. Senate. She narrowly lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama and then served in his administration as his secretary of State.
No one can match her resume.
The question – why are you running? – was an easy one for Washington, Lincoln, and the others (though I'm not sure anyone had the temerity to pose it). They were faced with an overarching problem and everyone knew it. We face a myriad of problems today – terrorism, income inequality, climate change – so answering the question becomes more complicated.
Ms. Clinton, in her videotaped announcement, said she's running to fight for everyday families so "they can get ahead and stay ahead" (as hers surely has). But, Amy Chozick insists in the Times, "Long before any ballots are cast, however, she faces enormous pressure to explain, in compelling terms, why she wants the job and is best suited to hold it."
It seems to me that all the other candidates face "enormous pressure" to do the same.
Roger Mudd famously asked Ted Kennedy why he wanted to run for president against Jimmy Carter in 1980. We all knew the answer to that, or thought we did. Mr. Kennedy believed Carter was a loser and it was time to replace him with a winning Kennedy. But he couldn't say that, and so his answer was muddled. It cost him dearly.
There's nothing muddled about Hillary Clinton. She's smart and ambitious and there's no reason she shouldn't run for president. We need to stop asking her why and start asking what she would do in the White House.
James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.