It takes two, baby
To make a dream come true, just takes two.
— Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston, with no apologies
Sarah Janecek owes an apology all right, not just to Willie and Waylon for her unimaginative twist on their lyrics or for resorting to cheesy lyrics in the first place, but to people like me who support Barack Obama but refuse to engage in this sort of misogynistic trashing of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
There are legitimate reasons to find Team Clinton’s campaign tactics off-putting, but to say that she only got ahead because of her connections to Bill holds about as much weight as a Post-it Note.
As Amy Rotenberg et al. detailed here Jan. 22, Clinton is incredibly bright, hard working, well educated and credentialed. Janacek derides her for working “as one of thousands of U.S. House staff attorneys and as a staff attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund,” as if these are bottom-of-the-bin choices for someone right out of law school — especially for a woman, who, as the writers above note, was asked how she could succeed in a law firm without a wife to keep her socks clean. And, in fact, Hillary’s connection to Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, turned out to be a very good political connection for Bill. It goes both ways.
Where would Bush be without his daddy?
I also don’t recall Republican Janacek ever commenting on the subject of George W. Bush using his daddy to get into — or out of — anything he ever did. “But for the fact” that his father was rich, powerful and the president, little Shrub would have never have made it to Yale, much less to the Oval Office.
As was typical of the era, Hillary took a back seat to Bill’s ambitions. The “little woman behind the throne” has long been winked at as a given, but when it’s a man behind the throne, people like Janacek get squeamish. Feminism pretty much holds that what is good for the goose is good for the gander and vice-versa. I don’t recall “making it on your own” being part of the feminist pledge anymore than it being part of the corporate fat cat pledge.
It’s anyone’s guess where Hillary would have wound up had she not married Bill and moved to Arkansas. But given her history and her own ambition, I suspect she’d be doing something of substance, perhaps even running for president without the baggage, both good and bad, of Bill.
So instead of trying to make her over into some ditzy Gennifer Flowers, sliding by on Bill’s coattails, why not give her her due and credit her with Bill’s many successes? Like her or not, she’s a strong and driven person in her own right, hardly a simpering first lady of the Nancy Reagan mold.
With his famously undisciplined appetites, surely Bill was the longer shot to make it. He needed Hillary’s discipline, strength, intelligence and, yes, forgiveness to win the presidency. So leave feminism out of this and call it what it is — a partnership, for better or worse. And isn’t that what marriage is all about?
Susan Lenfestey lives in Minneapolis and is a frequent contributor to the Star Tribune opinion pages. She is a member of the Minnesota Obama for President Finance Committee.
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