Under Reno's direction, on April 22, 2000, under the scrutiny of national and international media and news cameras:
"Armed INS officers entered the home (where the child had been living with close relatives) before dawn and within three minutes carried Elian out to a waiting government van. Hours later, the boy was reunited with his father at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., and eventually they returned to Cuba (Emert 2005 p. 144)."
Reno's role in handling the case of Gonzalez was highly controversial and politically provocative. Reno withstood with the assault of the Hispanic and Cuban communities around the country, but held firm in her position on handling the matter. It was not, however the first time that Reno came under attack for handling a controversial matter. She likewise was responsible for the attack on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, where David Koresh was the spiritual leader of a cult following that also had a stockpile of weapons in the compound. Authorities claimed that it was the weapons, and not the over zealous behavior of ATF agents that created the disaster that ensued when the compound became engulfed in flames and lives of women and children and Koresh too, were lost. When she left office, asked if there was anything she would have done differently, Reno replied, "I would not have done what I did at Waco (Emert 2005 p. 145)."
Reno was instilled with making difficult decisions, and faced not just the responsibilities of her office, but the responsibility for the decisions she made while in office. "When Reno left office, in January, 2001, she was the second-longest-serving attorney general in history (only William Wert served longer) (Emert p. 144)."
Just as important as Reno and Albright were to the Clinton Administration, so, too, was First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hillary was no ordinary First Lady, she was a working First Lady, and she took on responsibilities and duties of her position, but, beyond that, she also took on the work of Clinton's promise to reform healthcare -- although she was greatly criticized for the work, and accused of having abandoned the project unfinished. Hillary has addressed the issue, saying constituents on her 2008 campaign trail: "I know what you're thinking. Hillary Clinton and health care? Been there. Didn't do that! (Estrich p. 199)" What is most interesting is that Hillary proved her resiliency as a politician, and that she had learned well, because immediately after this statement acknowledging her failed effort at healthcare reform while Bill was in office, she then immediately went on to say:
"The failure of the government to help contain health costs for employers has led to a fraying of the implicit social contract in which a good job came with affordable coverage. As a whole, our ailing health care system is plagued with underuse, overuse, and misuse. (Estrich p. 199)."
Clinton demonstrates the expert command of political rhetoric and performance when she acknowledges her failure in healthcare reform, but then skips addressing it, because that would lose voters, not win voters, then jumps into an explanation of why healthcare is in trouble, and whose fault it really is; and it's not Hillary's fault, but she is forced to address the issue, because it is a campaign platform issue that her opponents are addressing as campaign platforms.
From the start of Bill Clinton's presidency, it was clear to most of the public and the media that Hillary Clinton had her eyes on the prize, the American presidency, as the first woman to hold that office -- after Bill had served out a second term, of course. Hillary Clinton is aggressive, a hard worker, relentless in her pursuit of the office of the presidency; but she is also a shrewd politician, having learned many life lessons and political lessons along the way to the office of First Lady, and, then, after Bill's second term, as a U.S. Senator from New York.
Hillary came out of the 2008 presidential campaign gates not as a long shot in the race, but as a contender. There was every reason to believe that Hillary would be the first American woman to hold the office of the President of the United States. Few people who followed the polls during the 2008 campaign would have betted against Hillary. She was intelligent, informed on the issues, and she even cried -- as would the old joke have it that the first woman president might cry if she didn't get her way -- but that didn't estrange her from the voters, it endeared her to them, because Hillary has always been perceived by Americans as a hard nose, a woman who epitomized every joke and every off color remark about things that women do that are categorized one way, a negative way, and usually using colorful language -- but if a man does it, it is, he is perceived as being business savvy, smart, quick to solve the matter. When Hillary cried on national TV, it was okay, because she was no longer the hard nose joke; it was okay for Hillary to be a woman. This was perhaps a lesson for her, more than it was a lesson for the voters. Hillary's voter polls showed increased ratings.
Hillary was demonstrating that a woman -- the right woman, could carry a U.S. presidential election. She was a hands down against the Republican Senator from New Mexico, John McCain, who is a celebrated Vietnam war veteran, whose experience as a survivor of a prison camp under the most extreme and horrific circumstances made McCain the best that the Republican Party had to offer to run against Hillary. Hillary would be the first woman president of the United States -- but for one factor: Barack Hussein Obama, a tall, handsome Black American with a beautiful wife and two young daughters and whose very stature and demeanor and ability to speak flawlessly nudged the American boomers into a state of nostalgia that took them to the days of the Kennedys, and how hope was lost when the brothers, first John, and then Robert, were assassinated, and the dream that was theirs was never fulfilled -- until now. A Black American man who embodied everything that had meant anything during the 1960s: moving beyond racism, the Kennedy tragedies, the young handsome man and beautiful wife with young children to roam the halls of the White House once again, and reconnecting American, the contemporary America, with the sense of what had once been so that the young people of today could know what the counterculture movement meant for their future; the Kennedy family, Senator Ted Kennedy, the only surviving brother, and the Princess of Camelot, Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the fallen president, endorsed Barack Obama as their candidate, and it appeared, suddenly, that the race was over and Hillary Clinton was finishing second. Barack Obama won the Democratic Party's nomination as presidential candidate to face the Republican Party in the 2008 election.
From the Republican Party perspective, there was only one way that John McCain could compete against Barack Obama: he needed a woman vice presidential running mate. With a woman, and McCain's own popularity amongst the American people, there stood every chance that he could divide the public and be elected over Barack Obama. With deliberate purpose, McCain selected as his vice presidential running mate the Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. Palin had resolved Alaska's financial woes during her brief tenure as governor of that state, and she was hunter, fisherwoman, and she had a large young family and a handsome young husband. She had a child who was handicapped, and appeared to be the ultimate multi-tasker; and the ploy almost worked, until Palin met Katie Couric, the famous quirky and cute former host of a popular morning television show who became a network news anchor, but whose job was in jeopardy because Couric had failed to bring with her to the network the millions of morning viewers that had made her famous.
Couric interviewed Palin, and the result was that facing Couric, a seasoned television journalist who was especially hungry to keep her job, Palin came off as a less than intelligent and less than articulate female. Palin became the joke of television talk show hosts like Leno and Letterman, and actually was the saving grace for the comedy show Saturday Night Live, which revived its ratings with comedian Tina Fey, who was a dead ringer for a Palin look-a-like, and who took great pleasure and pains in making Palin look very bad -- although Palin contributed to this in no small way herself. The result was, Obama won the 2008 presidential election hands down.
What the 2008 election demonstrated, is that it is the right time in American history, and in the life of Americans for the first woman president. In the past twenty-five years, America has had the first Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor (Lipman, p. 35), in 1981,…