A front page story in today’s New York Times wonders whether Hillary Clinton’s flagging run for the presidency is “a historic if incomplete triumph or a depressing reminder of why few [women] pursue high office in the first place.”
Let me quickly weigh in with an unequivocal vote for “historic if incomplete triumph.” And the only thing I find depressing is that the answer is even in doubt.
I have regularly criticized Clinton over the course of her campaign (and long before it, starting with her vote to authorize the war), but there is no question that she has forever altered the way women running for president will be viewed from here on out. In the words of the Times, Clinton has established “a new marker for what a woman can accomplish in a campaign — raising over $170 million, frequently winning more favorable reviews on debate performances than her male rivals, rallying older women, and persuading white male voters who were never expected to support her.”
She has also forever demolished the question mark hovering over the issue many (wrongly, in my opinion) have felt would be a woman candidate’s biggest weakness: the ability to be seen as a plausible commander-in-chief.
It is to her great credit that very shortly into the ’08 race, when you saw Clinton on television, you didn’t think, “Oh, there’s the woman running for president.” That is no small feat for a woman trying to break into a male-dominated arena. So the next time a woman — or two or three — runs for president, it won’t be seen as a novelty act. Because Hillary certainly wasn’t.
But the greatest triumph of Clinton’s campaign — a complete triumph — is the example she has set for the next generation. And not just for young women; her dedication, perseverance, and indefatigable drive make her a role model for young men as well.
Much has been made of the generational divide in the Clinton-Obama battle, with older women rallying to Clinton and younger women drawn to Obama. But the impact of her candidacy transcends this division. I’ve seen this very clearly in the reaction of my oldest daughter.
She voted for the first time in this year’s California primary, casting her ballot for Obama. Yet hardly a day passes without her speaking with admiration, almost awe, about Hillary Clinton — how she manages to get up every morning, no matter how hard things get for her, and keep following her dream.
I’ve written a lot about fear and fearlessness, and how fearlessness is not the absence of fear — it’s the mastery of fear. It’s all about getting up one more time than we fall down. Has any public figure embodied this more powerfully and compellingly than Hillary Clinton?
The rest of this article can be read @ The Huffington Post