Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Hillary Rodham Clinton: Smart, Tough, and Committed"

I saw this very good editorial at Hillary's site this morning, and wanted to share:

Posted on Thu, Apr. 10, 2008

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Smart, tough and committed.

Donna Gentile O'Donnell
is a political commentator

When Virginia Kelley, Bill Clinton's late mother, wrote her book about raising a president, I rushed to read it. In Leading With My Heart, this self-made woman, born to poverty and hard luck, became a nurse, and then an entrepreneur, founding the first female-owned nurse anesthetist business in Hot Springs, Ark.

When she met Hillary Rodham, Kelley described her as not nearly the prettiest girl Bill had brought home. Hillary "was different. No make-up. Coke-bottle glasses. Brown hair with no apparent style." But Bill told his mother, in no uncertain terms: "It's Hillary, or it's nobody."

Why? Because she was smart. She had the intellectual firepower to keep up with him, and surpass him. She worked hard. She believed in the power of ideas to remake people's lives. She was committed to public service. They were becoming partners in a great adventure of changing the fates and fortunes of the America they knew and loved.

Hillary is still the one. Now more than ever. If a woman is ever to be president in my lifetime, it's Hillary.

Why? Because she is smart and tough and committed. She lives and tolerates complexity. She still believes that ideas matter. She is intellectually brainy and emotionally brawny. She has the kind of remarkable endurance that makes it possible for her to press on, despite the klieg lights of controversy and criticism almost always trained in her direction. These are critical attributes for a world leader, and a U.S. president.

Hillary has earned the respect of her congressional colleagues and constituents. She is grounded in public policy in a fashion that defies comprehension or political calculus, and is a member of the Senate Armed Services; Environment and Public Works; and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees, and the Special Committee on Aging.

How do you measure being a significant figure on the world stage? During her White House years, she was a key adviser - in ways we know and in ways we don't. These are the hallmarks of real diplomatic skill.

In a Pennsylvania speech, as she fielded unfiltered questions, the reasons for Hillary's election were ever more apparent. Her analysis of issues, foreign and domestic, is as deep as it is wide. In response to a question on renewable energy, her recitation on ethanol alone was doctoral-quality research synthesis. Her grasp of the foreign-policy implications of oil makes it clear that in Hillary's administration, the moon we will be shooting for is energy independence. Her position on health care is clear: We must spend our national resources - time, talent and treasury - on insuring all Americans. We can and must and will do better, if she is president.

I believe in Hillary because she learned to do what Ginger Rogers did, as the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards said in her address to the Democratic National Convention: She dances with the best of the guys . . . only backward and in high heels. And every woman in shoe leather knows what that means.

She's a woman navigating what used to be a man's world. Expectations are more convoluted, complicated. You have to be more prepared than the guys who get to cruise on their status. You have to build a network that includes men who'd rather you just wouldn't bother. You have to demonstrate substantive ability, diplomatic agility, and strength of opinion with skill . . . and above all, avoid being called the "b" word. You have to look good, but not too good. It's the kind of balancing act that could dizzy a world-class gymnast. Is it any wonder she sometimes has to recheck her footing on the political balance beam?

When Bill told his mother all those years ago that Hillary was the one, it took time for Kelley to understand why. Over time, she saw in Hillary a woman a lot more like herself than she first realized. Like many other women in America, I think that may still be true. As for the men in those lopsided boardrooms and corner offices, whether in Congress or in commerce, eventually it makes sense to them, too. Eventually, even if it wasn't their idea, they might give a gal a chance.

That's why it's Hillary. That's why it's now. Hillary is still the one.

Donna Gentile O'Donnell is managing director of the Eastern Technology Council, a Democratic strategist, and a political commentator for NBC in Philadelphia.

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