Hillary Rodham Clinton: Senator, First Lady, & Secretary of State
"One thing we know for sure is that change is certain. Progress is not. Progress depends on the choices we make today for tomorrow and on whether we meet our challenges and protect our values."
~Hillary Rodham Clinton, from Living History
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is an international leader, a powerful fixture in American government, a significant figure in American history, and a mentor for people around the world, especially women. Before becoming Secretary of State, she campaigned for United States President. Hillary Rodham Clinton continues to lead an intriguing and inspiring life. She makes decisions that impact millions of people. She represents the American government, American foreign policy, and she represents hope for women in a patriarchal society. Hillary Clinton has withstood several political scandals with grace and perseverance. The paper will explore her life as an example of a politician that makes positive differences in the lives of others, and how she exemplifies service to the American people. The focus of the paper will be her book, Living History, the arduous and wondrous tale of her life from her perspective. The paper will additionally reference other primary and secondary sources so as to create a context within which the reader can consider and evaluate Clinton's contributions to American history, world history, and women's history. The paper contends that Hillary Rodham Clinton is a political figure worthy of respect, attention, and that she is an example for other politicians, as well as women, to follow.
Hillary Clinton is accustomed to being a controversial figure. She is the wife of William Jefferson Clinton, former governor of the state of Arkansas and former President of the United States. As a child, she was a girl scout, athlete, and began her career in politics by joining her school's student council. Clinton grew into an intelligent woman who went past her humble and stable beginnings in Illinois going on to receive her higher education at the prestigious Yale University, a university that is a prominent member of the Ivy League. She also attended Yale Law School. Her interests in women's rights, health care, security, and foreign affairs as well as her drive and ambition took her on a career path that includes New York State Senator, and now, as part of President Barack Obama's administration, she is the Secretary of State. Clinton is the successor to another female Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
Life as a public figure, the wife of a President, and a politician very much in her own right, Hillary Clinton knows how it feels to be under the microscope of the media and press. Even the publishing deal for her book, Living History, retains an air of controversy. Some members of the press and the political community argued that she demonstrated a lack of ethics regarding the deal. (Colbert, 2007) The publisher, Simon & Schuster, the publishers of her other book, It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us, offered her an $8 million advance just after her election yet just prior to her swearing in into the United States Senate. The criticism reached the some of the highest levels of government. The Senate Ethics Committee granted her approval to accept the deal. One wonders whether the criticism and the approval who have existed or been necessary if Clinton were a man.
In order to compose the book, Clinton enlisted the help of a writing and research team who helped her stay focused, organized, and helped make sure the piece would be compelling. In the acknowledgements section of Living History, she writes:
"This book may not have taken a village to write, but it certainly took a superb team ... The smartest decision I made was to ask Lissa Muscatine, Maryanne Vollers and Ruby Shamir to spend two years of their lives working with me. Lissa [was] responsible for many of the words in my speeches as First Lady and in this book ... Maryanne [has] the rare gift of understanding how to help another's voice emerge ... Ruby [had the job of] amassing, reviewing and synthesizing millions of words written about me." (Clinton, 2003,-Page ii)
Clinton demonstrates a pattern of teamwork and collaboration even on a project about herself. She acknowledges and appreciates the efforts that work for her and support her objectives. This trait certainly translates and repeats throughout her life and throughout her illustrious career. The books obviously do not trace her exploits in the Senate and as part of the Obama administration/cabinet, but Living History does provide a comprehensive and inside view of her life preceding her husband's presidency, during the presidency terms, and the period following the presidency up until her election into the United States Senate, an honor that few women have attained, even in the globally-oriented 21st century political and cultural landscapes. Every achievement of Clinton's is controversial, historical, and arguably, a positive move in the fight for equality for women (feminism).
A member of Clinton's writing team for her book is author and journalist, Lissa Muscatine. Muscatine has written for Clinton, worked under her, and as aforementioned, was a valued member of her writing team for Living History. Muscatine was selected as a part of the writing team for her skills, her position as Press Secretary for Clinton and for her perceptions of Clinton. She candidly characterizes Clinton in the following excerpt:
"People are aware of her intellect, they're aware of her high-powered professional career. What they don't recognize is that this is an extremely down-to-earth person with tremendous humanity. That's why I think she is so good in public life-she combines that formidable intellect with a very deep and real concern for the plight of people who are vulnerable. Her mother and her church instilled in her a sense of obligation to the larger world, the common good. If you look at her personal history, you'll see that in law school she was working at the Yale-New Haven Hospital with abused children. She was volunteering at the legal services clinic. She went to work for Marian Wright Edelman before there was even a Children's Defense Fund. This sort of commitment to social action and public service speaks to a level of compassion and empathy and generosity of heart that I think most people aren't really aware of in her." (Muscatine, 2000,-Page 6)
As described in greater detail in the book, a large part of Clinton's career and everyday experience is being under constant view and/or scrutiny by the public eye. Clinton faces daily challenges as a politician and more so as a woman when in the public eye. To achieve pose, grace, and demand respect is an achievement for any professional, but particularly a female politician as part of a patriarchal culture and prejudicial government system.
Clinton has maintained a respectable public image and reputation among the constituents and her political peers. As described above, many of her experience of her childhood and adolescence nurtured her character and inherent talents or interests. With persistence and discipline, she turned her volunteer activities and intellectual curiosities into a political career that few women have had in known human history. As a professional politician and international leader, she has not relinquished or diminished her passion for the issues that inspired her as child into womanhood. Clinton continues to adamantly advocate for issues such as health care, education, safety, and ending the worldwide violence against women. The values instilled in her at a young age, in addition to the activities in which she participated, coupled with her family values, laid the foundation for the political powerhouse Hillary Rodham Clinton is this very day.
Domestic politicians, members of the press, world leaders, women, and Americans have known for over a decade the significant role Hillary Clinton plays in her husband's career, and the course of American history. As early in Clinton's career as governor and certainly through and after his terms as President of the United States of America, members of the press and other members of the political community hint or outright declare that Hillary pulled the string behind closed doors and teased that she was actually the President, and not Bill. Despite the numerous rumors, Hillary Clinton has always supported her husband personally and professionally, most notably through such scandals as the one regarding Monica Lewinsky as well as the White Water scandal. Their relationship has seen many challenges, which were compounded because of their position in government and the spotlight cast on them by the media & press, but she supports him and his career while he supports her and her career. Revealing her strategy for rolling with life's punches she writes: "Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you." (Clinton, 2003,-Page 124)
Hillary Rodham Clinton, like most women around the world, has several identities. She is a mother, a…