Saturday, September 3, 2016
POLITICIANS: A SEPARATE, BULLET PROOF BREED
The continuing saga of the ups and downs of the life of Hillary Rodham Clinton has got me thinking; politicians are really a breed apart from the rest of us. Some people, it is said, are just natural born leaders, and I think it's safe to believe that Clinton was already that way as a child, even though she was from a family of relatively modest means . Who knows how young she was when she first got the idea of being our nation's first female president. Way back in the 1970's, I think it's very likely that as she mapped out her husband Bill's path to the Governorship and the White House, she was already working on her own way there. To me, Hillary has always seemed like the kid in the class that you voted for for class president not because she was popular or you wanted her as a friend, but because she was clearly the hardest working, smartest kid in the class. The one who put her head down and studied, earning respect if not admiration. She may lack her husband's seemingly effortless ability to connect with a crowd, but when it comes to knowledge of details, and the nuts and bolts of political office, she knows what's she's doing.
One of the other qualities that politicians have that sets them so far apart from the rest of us is how thick skinned they have to be, and Hillary shows this in spades. I can remember that in 1992, the hatred of her husband from the right when he was elected was almost palpable: after a 12 year stranglehold on the presidency, the idea that a Democrat that had avoided the draft in Viet Nam, with a history of pot smoking and philandering, was about to be President was shocking to them. And if the Republicans hated Bill, they seemed even more vitriolic towards Hillary; in his book BLINDED BY THE RIGHT, former conservative journalist David Brock recalls an article in the right wing magazine SPECTATOR when Bill was still governor of Arkansas that referred to Hillary as "the lady Macbeth of Little Rock." And Bill's ascension to the White House just increased that virtiol; for eight years the right wing media dumped on her, from accusations of past criminal financial dealings with what came to be known as the Whitewater scandal, to even implying that she had former aide Vince Foster murdered after he committed suicide. And when the Republicans finally hit pay dirt, catching Bill lying under oath about an affair with an intern, the resulting media firestorm was almost as much an embarrassment for her as it was for him, with inevitable questions about how much she knew about the affair and why she remained with Bill arising from all quarters.
Given all of this, it would have been perfectly reasonable on her part to mostly exit from politics after Bill's second term, emerging only to write a book and perhaps give a few speeches. But no, she dove head first into the lion's den all over again, successfully running to become a US Senator from New York. The fact that she was perfectly willing to run for political office, knowing full well how despised she was by the right, illustrates just how different politicians are then the rest of us, with our normal thin skins. It is a testament to her individual drive and determination that she never let a little thing like her husband almost being impeached from the presidency, slow her down! Personally, I can't even imagine accepting the disapproval of literally millions of Americans so blithely. I am reminded of the famous quote from former President Franklin D Roosevelt discussing business interests: "They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred."
Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton also shows another aspect of the unique nature of politicians: their continual belief that they are above the masses and live by their own rules. Like most Americans, I don't think that Bill Clinton lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky while he was President, warranted impeachment, but it was certainly a stupid thing to do. After all, when the Republican party took the House of Representatives in 1994, House Speaker Newt Gingrich was openly contemptuous towards the President, and clearly relished the idea of throwing every globule of mud at him that could be found. In other words, it was a really bad time for Bill to start a secret affair. But politicians can't seem to control themselves, as we are finding out now with recent stories about the Clinton Foundation, a non profit charity organization founded in 2013, which it appears may have accepted donations from foreign countries for access to Hillary when she was Secretary of State. And some of those contributing countries are places with terrible human rights records. Once again we have a politician abandoning common sense: don't set up a possible conflict of interest when you are thinking about running for President! This, combined with her ongoing email scandal, paints a definite picture of a political animal that sees herself above the rules and regulations of ordinary people. Like her husband, she is a smart person who does foolish things because she considers herself bulletproof. While I still will gladly vote for her, I do wish she would realize that American politicians are not like members of royalty or the Pope: that is, they are fallible.