After Donald Trump won the White House in November, we had a spate of editorial commentaries purporting to explain the role that gender played in Hillary Clinton’s defeat. For some pundits, the answer was obvious: this country is as irredeemably sexist as it is racist.
Others were more subtle. America, they said, was hopelessly old fashioned. Some 70 other countries have had women leaders, including such distinguished global figures as Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, and Angela Merkel. So why can’t we?
Last week, in a speech to a Women in the World Summit, Hillary herself raised the issue once again: “Certainly misogyny played a role,” she said, referring to her defeat. “I mean, that has to be admitted.”
Sorry, but I don’t see any necessity about it. In fact I think the misogyny argument is mostly baloney.
I’ll tell you why. Those who compare Hillary Clinton to Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel or other great woman political leaders of our time overlook one crucial fact that distinguishes Hillary from them.
Each and every one of those other women leaders reached the top of the greasy pole that is politics by her own efforts. Hillary Clinton achieved power by hitching herself to her husband’s coattails.
The Clintons were always a team. And what a team! They will probably go down as the most tenacious, the most ruthless and the most wildly successful power couple since the Macbeths.
The Clinton political partnership was founded on a deal: Bill’s career would come first, but then Hillary would get her turn. Thus, Bill was free to earn $35,000 a year as Governor of Arkansas, as long as Hillary was supporting the family with the big bucks she made as an attorney at Rose Law Firm.
Bill was also free to tomcat around. When the exposure of his 12-year affair with Gennifer Flowers threatened to derail his 1992 campaign for president, Hillary saved him by standing at his side as the good little wife. Again, they had a deal: Bill would come first but Hillary would get her turn.
Once Bill was elected, Hillary lost no time asserting her side of the bargain. Remember how she was wont to tell reporters, “We are the president”? We????
Soon, being soi-disant co-president wasn’t enough for her. Before the Clinton administration was a year old, Hillary was put in charge of the Task Force on National Health Care Reform—a role unprecedented for a first lady. Can anyone seriously maintain that she had the qualifications for such a position? Or that she would have been appointed to it had she not been the president’s wife? For that matter, can anyone deny that her amateurism was one of the main reasons why the task force failed?
So Hillary went back to being first lady, and Bill went back to tomcatting. But once again his philandering caught up with him. First, there was the messy Paula Jones lawsuit. Then came the bombshell that he was carrying on with a White House intern less than half his age. And that is to say nothing of tawdry allegations of other instances of sexual harassment and even rape.
After that, any woman with an ounce of self respect would have thrown the bum out. But again, Bill and Hillary had a deal. If she upheld her end of it, and let her lecherous husband humiliate her before the whole nation yet again, she would get her turn.
And she did. In 1999, the Clintons purchased a house in Chappaqua, New York, to make her eligible to run for senator—a race that she duly won. Does anyone care to argue that Hillary would have been elected senator from New York if she had not been the president’s wife, but merely a carpetbagging Arkansas lawyer who had never lived in the state until a few months before she kicked off her campaign?
In due course, Hillary ran for president—first in 2008 and then in 2016. In both cases, she had Bill campaigning for her. She also had the Clinton Foundation, which was a joint effort by Bill and Hillary.
Once Bill was out of office, the couple appear to have reversed their roles. This time it was Hillary who pursued her political ambitions while Bill brought home the bacon in the form of millions of dollars in speaking fees. (Hey, they had a deal, remember?)
The Clintons’ shameless attempts to cash in on their public service would dog Hillary throughout the 2016 campaign. So too Bill’s would past sexual misconduct make it difficult for her to get political mileage out of Donald Trump’s oafish treatment of women.
The irony is that if Hillary had pursued the same path to power as Margaret Thatcher, Angel Merkel or Golda Meir she might very well have made it to the White House. Mrs. Clinton is unquestionably smart, experienced, strong-willed, capable and driven. But she chose to pursue power by playing second fiddle to Bill rather than to go it alone. That, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons why she lost the last election. And that, in my opinion, is why the feminists of the future will decide that it was a good thing that she lost.
There is no question in my mind that this country will one day have a woman president. I also think that our first woman president will be a woman who will be able to say that she made it to the top job on her own steam, owing nothing to any man. When that day comes, that first woman president will do more to promote real equality for women in this country than Hillary Clinton ever did—or could.
Hal Gordon, who wrote speeches for the Reagan White House and Gen. Colin Powell, is currently a freelance speechwriter in Houston. Web site: www.ringingwords.com. Like this post? Share with your friends using the button below! Also be sure to like PunditWire on Facebook.