Saturday, January 20, 2007


This is a day we all knew was coming. Hillary Clinton has announced that she is running for president. There are things about her that I greatly admire; her efforts on universal health care, her advocacy of children, her toughness, her strong, clear voice, her loyalty. There are things about her that make me nervous. So much ambition and desire for power makes me nervous in anybody, yet I know that without those qualities, one can't be elected president.

It's a long time before the 2008 election, and the one thing we can count on is a change. So many things will happen. There will be scandals, gaffes, surprises and moments of great dignity and maybe even inspiration during the upcoming campaigns. I don't know if Clinton will get my vote, but I know that I'm glad she's running.

I remember the presidential election of 1984 so clearly and seeing Geraldine Ferraro's smiling face. Her energy such a strong counterpoint to Walter Mondale's solid and rather uninspiring presence. I remember crying while watching her receive the nomination at the Democratic convention and thinking they'll never win, but damn it, she gets to try! 23 years later, I still remember the uproar caused one day when she waved to a crowd, lifting the hem of her dress enough to show a couple of inches of slip. It stayed a major news article for days, and I remember hearing her say that she'd always remember to wear a full slip rather than a half one when she wore a dress after that. I remember thinking with all she's accomplished and all she's got to do, she still can't get away from even the tiniest details with which all women have to cope. It was a good warning of what would come my way. I never achieved power or great accomplishment, but those damn details are still biting me.

I look at how reviled Hillary Clinton has been. She's been criticized for being a working mother, but her daughter seems to have turned out pretty well. She was criticized for wearing headbands and then for being too fashionable. She was criticized for being an attorney as if that's something to be ashamed of, for investments that were neither proven nor disproved to be shady, for being the push behind her husband's career. She's been accused of being too strident and too bossy, and too acquiescent in light of her husband's infidelities. I just never understood the last criticism. I thought making a marriage work and keeping a family together was a conservative family value. I thought forgiveness was a responsibility for Christians, and she got grief for it. I don't know if she's a good woman or not. I'm still undecided if she will be a good president or not. I know that she won her senatorial election with a 62% majority, and her constituents seem to approve of her. Her national approval ratings put our current president's to shame (though they are what he has earned), and whatever she does, she does with dignity.

When I was a kid, people would still say to the boys, "You could grow up to be president some day." The implication was that with character and hard work, they could do anything that they wanted. No one ever said that to the girls. It was unimaginable that a woman could lead the most powerful nation on earth. It was unimaginable that a woman really could do anything she set her mind to. I was a grown woman before I could imagine even a slim chance of a woman being president. My daughter can see one as the front runner in the race now. The possibilities for her and all our daughters look wider and brighter than they ever have in all of history. When I look at Hillary Clinton, I know that hard work, ambition and determination -- the tools of accomplishment -- belong as much to the girls and the women in this country as they do to the guys.

(Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro are not the only women to run for or secure a place in a presidential election. Even before women could vote, they were running for president. Here's a list of women who have made it to the national ticket.)

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Blogger carrie said...

i think i 'll vote for her just to support putting a woman into office

January 20, 2007 9:53 PM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

Just last night, I told the DH that I was a little worried that the Democratic front-runners are a woman and a black man. On the one hand, that is an unbelievably exciting turn of events. But on the other hand, are they electable? Is our country, fresh off of total conservative, red-neck fervor, ready to elect a woman or a black man to be president? If the Dems choose either of them as their candidate, will they be handing the election to John McCain? Definitely something to think about...

January 20, 2007 10:47 PM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

I have always respeced Hillary. I respected Bill for choosing Hillary as his mate. I'm a bit bothered by her initial Hawkish response to Bush's war, though, even taking into account she represents NY, where the attack took place. I see myself much more in align with either Edwards or Obama because of their diplomatic skills. BTW: so glad you are feeling better, Cynthia.

January 20, 2007 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Rhea said...

I think it's exciting that Hillary has thrown her hat in the ring. Not only will women and girls see what is possible, but with the remote chance she wins (I don't think she will, because America is full of misogyny), we will have a chance at a different kind of world.

January 21, 2007 9:21 AM  
Blogger Gannet Girl said...

Well said, and mirrors most of my own thoughts on the subject.

January 21, 2007 3:01 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

I am constantly amazed by the number of women who are stridently opposed to anything Hillary does, but unable to verbalize the reasons for their visceral dislike. I think it's deep, stubborn, subliminal conditioning.

Your analysis here is clear-eyed and well-stated.

January 23, 2007 5:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I followed your link to see if they listed Elizabeth Dole in the stats. She pulled out, but was in 3rd place in one of the big primaries. I wish she'd have run, I'd have supported her. Here's the link to Liz:

January 24, 2007 12:46 PM  

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