Celebrating, a Woman ‘to be’ in the White House

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Hillary Clinton – WOMAN of ACTION™ run for President; that is the question.

JANE PAULEY: If not you, who? Who is the viable woman of either party who could win a primary nomination in 2016, if not you?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I think there are a number of qualified women who are holding office.

“The last few days have offered vivid illustrations of why Hillary Clinton could decide not to run for president — and why, in the end, I believe she will.

Example No. 1 is the ludicrous debate over whether Clinton, in the latest People magazine cover, was leaning on a walker.

“PHOTO: IS CLINTON HOLDING A WALKER?” the Drudge Report tweeted. Right, not saying she is. Just askin’.

The Washington Free Beacon chimed in with a semiotic analysis of the People cover. “The cover looks innocent enough, but a close analytical reading reveals what can only be interpreted as a deliberate effort to call attention to the former secretary of state and Goldman Sachs affiliate’s advanced age,” editor Andrew Stiles wrote, noting the proximity of the word “grandmother” to Clinton’s hands on “what a layperson might reasonably assume to be an old person’s walker.”

People’s subsequent denial — accompanied by a photo that showed Clinton walking on her own — only served to further inflame the Free Beacon. This is Clinton Derangement Syndrome on steroids, reminiscent of the Hillary-murdered-Vince-Foster delusions two decades earlier. It is worth paying attention to only because of the role this phenomenon may play in Clinton’s decision-making on a presidential run.

The argument against running boils down to this: Clinton enjoys a comfortable platform from which to work on issues she cares about, without enduring the distorted spotlight of an out-of-control right-wing media/political machine. Why spend the best remaining years of her life dealing with such nonsense when the alternative could be so gratifying and so much more pleasant? The most recent answer to this question — and Example No. 2 — came in the unexpected form of Vladimir Putin. Clinton had compared the Russian president’s actions in Ukraine to Adolf Hitler before World War II. Questioned about those remarks by French journalists — the compulsion to focus on Clinton knowing no national boundaries — Putin responded in trademark style, bullying and chauvinistic.

“It’s better not to argue with women. But Ms. Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements. Still, we always met afterwards and had cordial conversations at various international events,” Putin said. “When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman.”

Putin is a master of the strategic needle. How interesting that his put-down begins and ends with Clinton’s gender. Women aren’t significant enough to be worth arguing with. I prefer my women weak.

This gender-specific dismissive/ness is as nonsensical in its own way as the walker kerfuffle. Putin is simultaneously accusing Clinton of being too strong (insufficiently feminine and “graceful”) and too mild. Either way, in Putin-land, she is a woman; therefore, she is a lesser creature.

Which is why, ultimately, I think Clinton runs. Nothing is going to change Putin’s attitude toward women generally or Clinton specifically. But it would be interesting to see if Putin dared to try this overt sexism with a female president of the United States.

Either way, Putin’s boorishness underscores the importance of cracking that glass ceiling. Certainly, sexism, overt or subtle, isn’t about to evaporate with a single election. But as Clinton well understands, having more women in powerful positions, and the fact of a woman in the ultimate power position, will both hasten the trend and discomfit the chauvinists. Putin’s misogynist elbow-jabbing serves as an ugly — and timely — reminder of the unfinished business of equality.

And, at the risk of sounding insufficiently graceful, I’d enjoy the prospect of making Putin endure more of those “cordial conversations” with his fellow world leader.

Ruth Marcus is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Readers may email her at marcusr@washpost.com.

hillary clinton runs for president

Carl M. Cannon reports: One day in 1998, as the specter of impeachment encroached on the Clinton administration, I spotted Mark Salter, John McCain’s chief of staff, walking across the street from the White House. Removing the cigarette from his mouth, Salter smiled drolly and, without any preamble, said, “Can this dude take a punch, or what?”

Salter was talking about the president—was paying him the ultimate compliment in McCain world: that Bill Clinton was showing resilience under pressure. In the years ahead, his wife would also prove that she can take her lumps, and now she’s running for president again.

Yes, let’s get that out of the way: Hillary Rodham Clinton is not deciding whether to run for president; she’s already running for president. If she doesn’t make it to the starting gate for the 2016 Democratic primaries, she will have quit running.

When has a Clinton ever quit anything?

Moreover, these people like living in the White House. Her husband practically had to be pried out of the place on his last day in office. In his final hours on the job, Bill Clinton was pardoning crooks, trying to negotiate world peace, and delivering self-congratulatory political eulogies. On George W. Bush’s first day in office, the networks went to split screens to show the activities of the new president and the old. I’m not making that up-I was there.

These days, ever since Hillary stepped away from the job as secretary of state, allies sprinkled around Washington keep giving reporters the same coy quotes, all of them to the effect that, yes, she’s leaning toward running, but isn’t sure. Some of those friends, including Lanny Davis, a former Clinton White House adviser and Friend of Hillary (and Bill) since their Yale Law School days, are sincere. Davis seemed almost physically pained recently while discussing with me the rough treatment she received on the 2008 campaign trail—and would again in 2016. I think he needn’t worry.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is no hothouse flower.

Others are simply following a script. The feigned indecision is part of the 2016 Clinton campaign rollout, as is the new autobiography, “Hard Choices,” and its accompanying book tour. Legendary literary editor Michael Pakenham referred to such volumes as “unbooks.” Like all Washington memoirs, its unofficial subtitle should be “If They Had Only Listened to Me.” Their purpose isn’t to entertain, educate, or enlighten. It’s to keep the author’s name in the news, make some money, and pave the way for the next gig. “Hard Choices” does all three, which is nice work if you can get it, considering the project is a ghost-written campaign manifesto.

“Ultimately, what happens in 2016 should be about what kind of future Americans want for themselves and their children,” she asserts at the end of this tome. “The time for another hard choice will come soon enough.”

But back to the making money issue for a moment.

hillary living history bookThis is HRC’s second unbook. For the first, “Living History,” she was given a mind-numbing advance of $8 million. Simon & Schuster didn’t disclose the advance for this one, but $14 million is the informed guess—nearly eclipsing the $15 million Bill Clinton was paid for his memoir. Then there’s the $200,000-a-pop speeches they give, and their generous presidential, senatorial, and State Department salaries—and the ex-president’s $200,000 annual pension, all of which adds up to the $109 million they raked in between 2001, when they left the White House, and 2008, when Hillary first ran for president.

Given these staggering sums—and that the Democratic Party still purports to be the party of working people—one would think Hillary would have been prepared with a more forthright rap about why she thinks she remains in tune with everyday Americans than her absurd claim to Diane Sawyer that when she and Bill left the White House they were “dead broke.”

It was an inauspicious beginning to the 2016 campaign, but it’s not completely surprising. For years, Clinton loyalists have had to account for the simple truth that Hillary does not possess her husband’s natural political gifts. That’s no disgrace; few politicians do. But she can be thin-skinned, defensive, tin-eared, needlessly confrontational, and susceptible to wild conspiracy theories. Bill has these traits, too, but hides them better.

The back-and-forth with Diane Sawyer was widely portrayed as a gaffe, which it was, but it was also indicative of something more disconcerting. Hillary has exhibited a grasping attitude about money dating to her time in the Little Rock governor’s mansion when a politically connected friend helped her reap profits of $100,000 on a $1,000 investment in cattle futures, an arcane subject she knew nothing about.

Then and now, she despised being questioned about either her motives or judgment. This week, she lashed out at liberal interviewer Terry Gross for having the temerity to ask if the Clintons had changed their minds about gay marriage or if they had changed their public position when it became expedient. It’s an interesting question, actually, and one I’ve wondered about since the night during Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign when he signed the Orwellian-named Defense of Marriage Act into law. Hillary also fudged on the date in the Gross interview, citing the year 1993, a reminder that another trait she shares with Bill is a willingness to bend the truth.

‘So she has flaws, yes, but tremendous strengths as a candidate, too. I’ll go into them next Sunday when I explain why HRC is almost certain to be the next president of the United States.’

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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