Hilary has been so demonized over the course of her career it’s almost impossible to get to any factual or bedrock statement about who she really is. Michael Kruse, writing for Politico, takes a shot.
Kruse cites one of his interviewees who calls Hillary “a transitional figure”, meaning she straddled one era that required her to become “Mrs. Clinton” in 1982 instead of Hillary Rodham in order for Bill to be re-elected governor of Arkansas — all the way to another era that chose her, in 2016, to run for the presidency as Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Here’s what being a transitional figure means:
“A woman who operated purely as a feminist would have condemned herself to fighting a permanently outside fight. And a woman who never tested the limits of the role she agreed to play—tested it over and over—wouldn’t have built the thick skin and the savvy needed to keep going.
“Those experiences and changes she made to forge a path are so reflective of women of her generation,” said Sally McMillen, a 1966 Wellesley grad who recently retired as a professor of history, and women’s history, at Davidson College in North Carolina. “I have always maintained that our generation was the transition generation for women, pulled by traditions but grabbing for new opportunities as we could—constant compromises and even reinventing ourselves as needed.”
Hillary and I are close in age; the idea of being transitional women strikes a chord with me. As friend Laurie and I discussed over our long breakfast earlier this week, in some ways we’ve led very traditional lives: we got married and stayed married, had kids, had homes, did some of the charitable work that formed the core of our mothers’ lives outside the home. But we also had careers, some of us kept our maiden names along with adopting those of our husbands: Pamela York Klainer. My mother was crushed when I reacted badly to the engraved Crane note cards she had made for me when Jerry and I were first married; they read “Mrs. Jeremy Andrew Klainer.” I simply told her that’s not who I was going to be in the world. We transitional women had financial accounts and credit cards in our own names. We’ve owned property, made gifting decisions without the assent of our husbands, traveled with or without them. We have friends of our own, female and male; our world is not all couple friends and foursomes.
And we’ve faced much the same kind of resentment and pushback that Hillary has faced, in magnified form, every day of her professional life.
I hope Hillary breaks through on November 8. Whether or not she does, she has my admiration and respect for her competence, her intelligence, her willingness to put herself out there and not be daunted by the likes of a Trump or a Giuliani or a Gingrich. She’s been a giant of our transitional era, and the vitriol sent her way says more about the inability to tolerate powerful women than anything else.
Think about it. Germany can tolerate Angela Merkel. Great Britain could tolerate Margaret Thatcher. India had Indira Gandhi, Israel had Gold Meir. I grow more disappointed in my country every day.