We are here again, well almost. 2016 will stand witness to the swearing in of the next ‘leader of the free world’. The 2008 edition was historic in that it shook out and elevated to the ‘Bully Pulpit’ a ‘Man of Color’ thereby rudely interrupting the file of caucasians who had up until that point monopolized the office of the POTUS. Many also believe it changed the political and social discourse and was a watershed in relation to race equations and race equality in the Unites States. The young came out in droves and played a pivotal role in electing Barack Obama and that was a game changer as well.
That said, albeit the ascension of Barack Obama to the proverbial throne was perhaps a precursor of where the American society could move to sometime in the distant future; the subsequent incidents on the ground (Florida, Missouri, Maryland, South Carolina etc.) quite swiftly and emphatically stamped out the romanticism that arose post this landmark event. It is imperative then that the next president of the United Sates of America is someone fundamentally believes in and who carries forward the work started by Barack Obama both on the economic and social fronts.
The 2016 edition promises to hold the potential for being another ground-breaking event with Hillary Clinton having a chance to make history and shatter the glass ceiling by becoming the first female POTUS. Gender equality along with race equality have been two of the most important issues in 21st century America and a woman in the White House for at least the next 4 years immediately proceeding 8 years of the ‘First black president’ will certainly move the needle decisively on both these salient issues.
That said, merely being a woman doesn’t automatically qualify Hillary to either become the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party nor does it give her a handicap (golf analogy) during the Presidential race. And she most certainly doesn’t need that crutch. She is not only eminently qualified to throw her hat into the ring but also perhaps to merit the pole position at the starting line in the grand finale i.e. the race to the White House.
She was an influential lawyer and served on the board of many top corporations ever before she was plunged into national limelight after her husband relinquished his gubernatorial responsibilities and assumed presidential ones. She then proceeded to being a two term senator representing the state of New York and her last stint in public office saw her serve as the Secretary of State under President Obama. When you add to that enviable resume her lifetime record of activism for universal and affordable healthcare and womens health issues and race equality/affirmative action you can’t but come away in glowing admiration. What is most notable though and far more commendable than her actual body of work is the fact that she accomplished all the aforesaid feats despite being in the shadow of the titan himself – Willian Jefferson Clinton. To be able to shine and stand out despite Bill’s blinding aura, intellect and charisma constantly in the background is quite simply laudatory.
A lady of many firsts – The first lady to be Senator from New York, the first ‘First lady’ to run for political elected office, the first and only ‘First lady’ to be subpoenaed and in all likelihood the first lady and the first ‘First lady’ to become the POTUS.
This mostly sterling resume though is dotted with blemishes small and large. It started with the Whitewater Controversy followed by Travelgate and Filegate all of which plagued her throughout her maiden tenancy at the White House. Extremely serious charges and one of which actually led to her being subpoenaed to testify before a Grand Jury.
What came next would shake her to the very core, a betrayal so humongous it would have severed the strongest of bonds in a spilt second. But in Hillary’s case it wasn’t to be. The Lewinsky scandal rocked an entire nation but Hillary stood like a rock with her philandering husband through this ‘torrid phase’ of her life. The fact that she chose to stand by a man who had taken a dagger through her soul was inexplicable and which provided fodder for aspersions to be cast on her real motive and morality.
The controversies above were all in her capacity as First lady or Mrs. Clinton but what came next was her first and biggest setback after she assumed national office. The US ambassador to Libya (Chris Stevens) was killed inside the US Consulate in Benghazi by militants and all of this happened under Hillary’s watch as the US Secretary of State. Her leadership and decision making were called into question as reports surfaced about a request being made to beef up security in Libya as there was credible intelligence of a threat perception to the US personnel just prior to this ghastly act of terrorism. It was a night of unmitigated hell which witnessed the carnage of 2 US government personnel and 2 contractors and Hillary was left with ‘blood on her hands’ as the buck stopped with her when it concerned the safety and well-being of all the US government personnel serving across the world. The initial muddled and stumbling responses to the tragedy by the administration including Hillary provided the fuel for the Benghazi fires to be lit politically and it is still raging on. The most recent flare-up being Hillary’s testimony in-front of the Republican led Senate Select committee on Benghazi. The republicans keep stoking the fire (13 hearings so far and counting!) in the hopes of keeping it alive till the presidential election so that they can fan it into a raging inferno that will incinerate and reduce to ashes Hillary’s chances of ascending the bully pulpit.
The latest controversy to embroil her is the what is referred to as ‘Emailgate’. Reports started circulating in March that she had used a private email server to conduct official business as Secretary of State and that had most likely resulted in the the compromising of those communications which was a matter of breach of national security and the second part of this which could qualify as criminal malfeasance is the fact that the emails on the private server were destroyed or rather not preserved. Critics have also alleged that the private email server was a deliberate attempt by Ms. Clinton to gain complete control over the information that she did and din not share with the government.
This ‘Teapot tempest’ per democrats and ‘Criminal mis-conduct’ per Republicans is how it has been playing out in the media and most likely will increase in intensity and shrillness as we get closer to the elections. One thing is for sure – The Republicans will put Hillary through the ‘Hadron Collider’ of Benghazi and Emailgate come election season (assuming Hillary is the Democratic nominee). It remains to be seen whether she is able to come out of this with her composure, confidence and dignity intact.
A posse of ‘Hillary Hunters’ with their NRA protected assault rifles are out gunning for her head and currently leading this pack is Donald Trump. He has managed to set a new low in American politics by fueling the wildfire of fear and mistrust post the San Bernadino massacre added with his blatant display of racism and bigotry. He is only a tell-tale symptom of the virulent malaise afflicting the Grand Old Party. There are others like Cruz, Fiorina and Carson who will try to upend Trump at his own game with their ‘looney tunes’. It will be a bruising and bloody battle but I believe the American public will zone out the noise and ultimately elect the most meritorious of them all……gender and political persuasion not withstanding.
44 boys and one cowboy is enough……Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, it is your time.