Was Hilary Clinton able to become president?
Hillary Clinton: The unloved
The Unloved - Page 1
In the spring of 2016, a 68-year-old woman climbs onto a stage in Brooklyn, New York. Her hair is sealed in a blonde, wavy dream, her face is hidden under a perfect make-up. She greets the audience with a loud, hard voice. It is the voice of a lifelong campaigner.
On this day, too, Hillary Clinton speaks confidently and with plenty of facts, as has so often been the case in recent months. Nothing in her sentences, in her movements is out of order. And yet nothing is okay. Hillary Clinton was First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State. What she hasn't been is president. In the elections eight years ago, she was considered the most promising candidate - and failed. Now, on the second attempt, she is the favorite again, the last hope of all those who do not want to imagine that America will soon be ruled by Donald Trump. For months, however, Hillary Clinton could not even throw her internal party rival Bernie Sanders out of the running, a 74-year-old self-proclaimed socialist with the aura of a stubborn grandpa.
There will be no third attempt. It's Hillary Clinton's last attempt. According to a recent poll, however, only 31 percent of Americans have a positive image of her. Never has a candidate of such poor value become president.
The question is: why is it so difficult for Hillary Clinton to win over the Americans?
From a certain age, everyone is the product of their own past. The TIME spoke to people who have followed and observed Hillary Clinton in their political life. If you put the statements together, you get the picture of a woman who very early wanted a lot more than most other people, above all more power. And who has given up much of what she once stood up for on her way up.
1. A speech, a departure
In the spring of 1969, a 21-year-old woman climbed onto a stage at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. She has no make-up, wears thick glasses, and her dark hair is tied in a bun. The fellow students selected Hillary Diane Rodham as the speaker for the graduation ceremony.
Ellen Brantley, college friend: I was a year with Hillary in Wellesley. Everyone on campus knew her. I'm not easy to impress because I'm not stupid myself, but Hillary stood out among us students.
Hillary is attending college on a scholarship for high school leavers who are in the top 0.5 percent in the country.
Gail Sheehy, writer and author of a Hillary Clinton biography: Her mother told me that Hillary used to spend hours dancing in the sun outside her parents' house as a child. She believed that the light was meant for her, sent by God, and that heavenly cameras were installed to record her every step.
Wellesley College is an elite women's college in the late 1960s, the purpose of which can be described as follows: If things go well, the students should marry a Harvard graduate, raise the children and - thanks to their education in Wellesley - be able to do so to enrich any dinner party with clever comments.
But for a year or two the college has been in turmoil, like so many colleges in America. All over the country, students demonstrate against the Vietnam War and for women's rights, there are protests after the murder of the black civil rights activist Martin Luther King and the left-wing politician Robert Kennedy. In Wellesley, female students are even threatened with a hunger strike.
Hillary Rodham is not among them.
Ellen Brantley: She was never a radical. There were completely different ones in the sixties. Hillary always had good relationships with our dean and the administration. She would never have thought of closing the university in protest, as some female students demanded.
At this point, Hillary Rodham is still a supporter of the Republican Party, like her father, an entrepreneur who prints curtain fabrics for hotels. She grew up very sheltered in a suburb of Chicago. Hillary is a devout Methodist - and it is her sense of social justice that opens her up to Democratic issues during her years at Wellesley College. In a letter she asks her pastor: "Can you be conservative in your head and left in your heart?"
Gail Sheehy: Her father didn't want her to go to Wellesley. But Hillary wanted to escape what she described as the unreality of the American middle class.
Actually, graduation ceremonies are not intended for students to speak. But now, in the troubled spring of 1969, everything is to be different, the students have demanded, and the president of the university has agreed to it. Also because she thinks she knows: The young speaker won't cause any trouble. Miss Hillary Rodham, the President said to the audience, "has a positive attitude and is a good friend of all of us".
The Massachusetts Senator, a Republican, speaks first. He makes no mention of the killings of King and Kennedy, instead he harshly criticizes the civil rights movement. Restlessness, the students are horrified.
At that moment, Hillary Rodham decides to deviate from her prepared speech manuscript. She shouts into the hall: "I have to react, as our generation has been doing for some time. We still have no positions of power. But we have the task of criticizing, we are obliged to protest constructively." She accuses politics of limiting itself to the "art of the possible". "The challenge, however, is to see politics as the art of making the impossible possible."
Within a few moments and without thinking too much about it, Hillary Rodham positions herself against the world of the elderly, the established, the conservatives.
Standing ovations for seven minutes.
Ellen Brantley: I was the usher at the graduation ceremony. Hillary criticized a senator in front of more than 1,000 people, it was very brave. Some parents found it impossible, but the students loved it.
First, the AP news agency reported on the appearance. Then the magazine prints Life Excerpts from the speech, alongside a report on a new generation of elite students. Hillary Diane Rodham's relationship with the American public has begun.
When a 21-year-old student makes a graduation speech, times must be eventful. The USA reorganized itself politically in those years. President Richard Nixon responds to the youth revolt by pushing his party to the right: From now on, Republicans are more likely to appeal to patriotic, religious Americans. The Democrats, on the other hand, turn to students, young women and ethnic minorities.
It is this right-left antagonism that will determine US politics from now on. Sure, which side Hillary Rodham is on. She's in the right place at the right time in an almost frightening way this spring of 1969. Forces are at work here that are stronger than them.
She goes to law school at the elite Yale University, where she is one of 27 women among 235 fellow students. She now has a reputation for being a major activist. She is invited to a TV talk show and leads student meetings. Some of her fellow students take drugs and think about their lives. Hillary is different. She seems to have a clear goal: her friends think she wants to become a politician.
And then - she falls in love.
He is different from the young men from rich families who populate campuses at universities like Yale or Harvard. He comes from a provincial town in the south, of petty bourgeois origin, his father died early, the stepfather a drinker, gambler and racket. Hillary and her new boyfriend don't have much in common, except for one thing: he too wants to get into politics.
2. Bill Clinton
Gail Sheehy: When Hillary and Bill met at Yale, they quickly developed into an almost symbiotic relationship. He saw in her a brilliant thinker. When the two were preparing for their final Yale legal exam, she wrote the defense speech and he delivered it.
After graduating from Yale law school, Hillary Rodham works in Washington on the House Committee preparing an impeachment trial against President Nixon. At the time, only 14 percent of lawyers in America are women. And only 3 percent of the MPs in Congress. Hillary Rodham seems determined to break into the men's turf.
However, she is also aware of the enormous political talent her boyfriend Bill has. To the great amazement of her friends, she left Washington in 1974. She goes to the provinces, the capital of Arkansas, Bill's home state. He wants to start his career there.
Ellen Brantley: I couldn't believe my eyes when I was about to take my bar exam in Little Rock. There it was Hillary! What was she doing in this dump? I studied in Arkansas and my boyfriend lived here. But she had been to Yale!
Jeff Gerth, investigative reporter for the New York Times: Hillary and Bill made a pact back then. Together they wanted to renew the Democratic Party, and Bill would become president within the next 20 years.
Ellen Brantley: The two married in October 1975. They wanted a family, and if it had worked, she would have liked to have more children than just one daughter.
At the wedding reception in the garden of her house, Hillary announced that she would keep her maiden name Rodham. Amazed faces. You didn't do that as a woman back then, especially not in the conservative south. But her name is important to Hillary. At first glance, her move to the provinces may seem like a rejection of her own ambitions. The truth is, she came here because she believes that her husband's success will ultimately benefit her own career.
Max Brantley, journalist and husband of Ellen Brantley: I was the editor-in-chief for a long time Arkansas Times. I met Hillary through Ellen. Hillary was funny and could be very sarcastic. She had that incredibly loud, deep laugh. And an almost encyclopedic knowledge. From operas to novels to philosophy.
Ellen Brantley: She was interested in everything, just not what she looked like. She never wore make-up and always wore these gigantic thick glasses.
For many people who meet Hillary, she leaves the impression that she doesn't need anyone but herself. She can do it all on her own. Almost everything.
Ellen Brantley: The only time she asked my advice was when our two daughters were born. She called me because she felt she wasn't producing enough milk. That was the only time I thought, oh, she just doesn't know what to do.
In 1978, 32-year-old Bill Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas. Hillary, 31, is now the first lady. But she doesn't look what a first lady in Arkansas would look like in her shapeless, unfeminine clothes. She does not have the same last name as the incumbent, and she works for a well-known commercial law firm, where she becomes the first woman ever to become a partner and earns $ 200,000, six times what her husband receives as governor.
It is at this point that the relationship between Hillary and the American people begins to crack. Today her life back then may not be anything special. Today, millions of viewers watch the TV series House of Cards, in which the American first lady Claire Underwood is as ambitious as Hillary Clinton.
But at that time it was cause for suspicious questions that the presenter of a local television program asked her in 1979.
Interviewer: The governor travels a lot, you travel a lot as a lawyer, when do you actually see each other?
Hillary Rodham: We try everything to see each other as often as possible.
Interviewer: It feels like you're not very interested in garden parties or housewarmings, all of those things we associate with governor's wives.
Rodham: That's not true. I'm interested in everything, but I see no reason to have to choose between my career and the role of governor's wife.
Interviewer: Not having the same name as him may have cost the governor a few votes.
Rodham: That may be, and others didn't vote for him because he is too young for them.
Interviewer: Are you afraid of being believed that you are too progressive?
Rodham: When you're in public, you can't base your life on what other people think of you.
In the next gubernatorial election, Bill Clinton will lose his office. Hillary's maladjustment is cited as one of the reasons for the defeat. After the setback, Bill falls into deep despair.
It's Hillary who builds it up. She persuades him to reapply. She, too, is now courting the favor of the citizens. She changes her name to Clinton, swaps glasses for contact lenses and takes on a more traditional role at her husband's side. Her ambitions have not changed, but she has understood that sometimes it is wise to hide your true goals behind a facade. The facade is now wearing make-up.
Ellen Brantley: The name Rodham was important to her. But not more important than Bill's career.
You make the comeback. In 1983 Bill becomes governor again and remains so until 1992.
Max Brantley: In his second term, Hillary was tasked with educational reform by Bill. To pay for them, taxes had to be increased. Hillary was so successful in defending her plan that one MP said, "I think we made the wrong Clinton governor."
The fight for the White House
3. The fight for the White House
In 1992, Bill Clinton ran for president. It's Hillary who pushes him to do it after 18 years in Arkansas. A seemingly hopeless endeavor: Hillary's husband is a young, unknown provincial politician. On January 20, 1992, a magazine asked, "Bill Clinton: Who is this?"
Three days later everyone knows him. in the Star Magazine the headline appears: "My twelve-year affair with Bill Clinton".
Rumors of Bill's women’s stories have been around for a long time in Arkansas, but now former television reporter and singer Gennifer Flowers publicly claims to have had an affair with the governor.
To fend off the accusation, Hillary and Bill let themselves be on the TV show two days later 60 minutes interview. 50 million Americans watch as Hillary defends her husband in a green dress, headband and gold earrings.
Interviewer: You both said you had problems in your marriage. What does that mean?
Hillary Clinton: There is certainly no one among the audience who would find it pleasant to describe in detail his entire private life and what goes on in marriage.
Interviewer: The reason the issue is not going away is very simple: Governor, you have not clearly denied that you have ever had an extramarital affair.
Bill Clinton: I admitted mistakes, I admitted that I caused pain in my marriage (...).
Hillary Clinton: I'm not sitting here like any other mistress, I'm sitting here because I love him. And I have a lot of respect for everything he went through, what we went through together. And if that's not enough for the voters, dear - then don't vote for him.
Six years later, he has long since been president, Bill Clinton will tell lawyers that he had an affair with Gennifer Flowers.
Ellen Brantley: I knew the rumors about his wives, like everyone in Little Rock. I just couldn't imagine it at the time, especially that there should be so many. Hillary apparently knew a lot more, even before she married him. But she never spoke to me about that.
Gail Sheehy: The day after 60 minutesDuring the interview, I was sitting on a plane with Hillary. She was still campaigning for Bill.When we got to the hotel, Gennifer Flowers could be seen live on the television in the lobby as she played back the recordings she had secretly made of her phone calls with Bill Clinton at a large press conference. It was about very intimate things. Hillary stood next to me, her face motionless. No muscle moved, no sign of surprise or panic. She immediately switched to crisis mode, called her assistant: "Call Bill!" That's when I realized Hillary's job is to defend Bill.
Carl Bernstein, reporter legend and author of a Hillary Clinton biography: She uses any means to protect Bill, herself and her own project.
Gail Sheehy: When Bill's assistant was making a list of the names of women who were all willing to follow Flowers ’lead and spread their affairs with Bill in the media, Hillary hired a private investigator to gather incriminating information about these women.
Hillary Clinton's decision to follow Bill to Arkansas has tied her political career to his. She will only succeed if he has it. As the ex-wife of a failed presidential candidate, your chances of getting a top position would be minimal. The fact that she stayed with him during the 1992 election campaign despite the obvious affairs earned her recognition, but also the appearance of calculation. In any case: all of America knows it now.
Ellen Brantley: I remember talking to her once about divorce. Bill and Hillary lived just a few blocks away in Little Rock at the time. Hillary's opinion was very clear: Divorce is devastating for the children. Hillary grew up with a difficult father herself.
Gail Sheehy: Her father was a very tough person who taught her that there was nothing worse than showing emotions because they would be perceived as weakness. He never helped her, just watched little Hillary toughen herself up. Today that is her greatest burden, as this controlled coolness makes it difficult for many to connect with her.
In January 2008, 16 years after Bill ran for president, when Hillary Clinton ran for the office herself, she answered questions from citizens in a New Hampshire cafe. A woman wants to know how she manages to motivate herself over and over again. Hillary Clinton's voice breaks, she says it is not easy sometimes, and for a moment it seems as if she is starting to cry. Newspapers and television stations immediately report on the actually insignificant event. Hillary shows weakness - if that's not news!
Little Rock had only two major newspapers, but in the 1992 presidential campaign, Hillary and Bill Clinton were investigated by journalists from across the country. Jeff Gerth, the New York Times-Reporter published an article about the couple's real estate investment. The Clintons and a friend had bought a piece of land called Whitewater that they wanted to build houses on and sell for a profit. The project failed.
Later, a bank owned by the Clintons' friend went bankrupt. The damage to the taxpayer: more than $ 60 million.
The Whitewater accounts had been held by that bank - and the bank's lawyer was Hillary Clinton. Was there a messy entanglement? And what did the Clintons attorney, who committed suicide after the potential scandal became known, know?
The Whitewater Complex will keep journalists and the judiciary busy for years. New connections between politicians, banks and law firms are opening up. The investigation will, by the way, bring to light the affair between Bill Clinton and intern Monica Lewinsky. A breach of the law cannot be proven to the Clintons.
Jeff Gerth: When I started researching the story, the Clintons hired a lawyer to follow me every step of the way. She asked the hotel staff who I was meeting with or who I had received faxes from.
Gail Sheehy: Hillary was chasing one "Fuck you, Jeff Gerth" -Strategy. He wanted her financial records, but she didn't give them to him. Then suddenly they were lost - and mysteriously reappeared in a box in Hillary's office after two years.
In January 1993, the Clintons are on target. Hillary moves into the White House as first lady. As in Arkansas, she does not want to be satisfied with the role of a wife in Washington. "You get two for the price of one," said Bill Clinton during the election campaign - whoever votes for him will get two presidents at the same time. Him and his wife.
Jeff Gerth: After Bill Clinton became president, the two renewed the pact they made in Arkansas. Eight years Bill, eight years Hillary, that was the deal now. Bill Clinton's former office manager Leon Panetta told me that.
The first lady makes politics
4. The First Lady makes politics
In Arkansas in the late 1970s, First Lady Hillary Rodham was ahead of her time. But the country has changed. A woman who is so self-confident, so power-conscious, as it was almost only men for centuries, is no longer a source of alienation. Young women in particular see Hillary Clinton as a role model. She still has opponents, but they are a minority. Hillary's approval rating is now 60 percent.
A few months after her husband took office, she assumed the chairmanship of the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. On behalf of the government, this should bring a health reform on the way.
Tom Nides, Former Deputy Foreign Minister: I met Hillary in the White House. I worked for Bill Clinton on the NAFTA Free Trade Agreement, and Hillary was pretty upset about it. She was afraid that Nafta would marginalize her health legislation. And she was right: the agreement dominated the discussion. Hillary tried to hold us back, knowing her husband wanted Nafta. We then pushed through the agreement. Nothing progressed with their law.
The bill she is drafting has 1,342 pages. It's extremely detailed, but nobody wants to read it. It is the work of a lawyer who wants to do everything by herself.
Carl Bernstein: It was their first big chance to achieve something really big. And she wasted it with her strict confidentiality policy.
Jeff Gerth: To get something like this through, you have to involve everyone involved. Hillary left almost everyone out. Even the Senate Democrats felt left out. You can do politics like that in Arkansas, not in Washington.
I can do better than you, that is the feeling Hillary Clinton gives to the members of the American Congress. Experienced politicians should be explained how it works - from the president's wife? Who voted for them anyway? Even though the Democrats have a majority in Congress, Hillary Clinton does not find enough supporters for her reform. Your approval ratings drop to 48 percent. A power-conscious woman may now enjoy respect, but it also depends on how she uses her power.
In the fall of 1994, the Democrats lost a majority in the congressional elections for the first time in 40 years.
New York Times, November 16, 1994: According to polls, the health reform was partly responsible for the fact that the Democrats were washed away
New York Times, November 27, 1994: The Democratic Party is fighting for a new balance
New York Times, January 10, 1995: Hillary Clinton seeks advice for a new, softer image
The failure of health care reform will shape Hillary Clinton's further political life. Whether as a senator, foreign minister or presidential candidate, from now on she will never again pursue a courageous political project. Instead of the large ones, she will turn the small screws. She is now a woman of pragmatism.
Carl Bernstein: She was banned from the White House after the debacle. And what did she do? Whatever she always does: she got herself up, flew halfway around the world and became a really important advocate for women's rights.
Gail Sheehy: Hillary can split off events and suppress failures. I think every politician has to be able to do that to a certain extent.
In January 1996, a memo was made public that once again highlighted Hillary Clinton's sometimes questionable handling of the truth. After the Clintons moved into the White House, some of the traveling staff had been fired. Her place was taken by people from an Arkansas agency, old confidants of the Clintons. Hillary Clinton had always stated that she had nothing to do with the decision. According to the note, however, she appears to have been the initiator of the layoffs.
This affair, soon to be dubbed "Travelgate", is less about a criminal act - again, the Clintons cannot be proven to have broken the law - than about Hillary Clinton deliberately lying. Your approval ratings drop even further.
It is as if the Americans sensed: This woman believes that special rules apply to her. She lies and tricks and justifies that with her higher goals. It's a classic dilemma: you want to make the world a better place, but you need power for that, and whoever wants power has to get dirty.
This couple, who see themselves fighting for a fairer America and are in constant fire from the Republicans, didn't they deserve a reward every now and then? The Clintons rent a bedroom in the White House to acquaintances, and at the end of Bill's tenure they will take several pieces of furniture with them. Year after year, they seem to notice less and less how aloof they appear.
Only the humiliation of their lives makes Americans feel sympathy for Hillary Clinton again.
Bill Clinton, White House press conference with Hillary, January 26, 1998: I have not had sexual relations with this woman, Miss Lewinsky.
Bill Clinton told ABC News on Aug. 17, 1998: I had a relationship with Monica Lewinsky that was inappropriate. (...) I have deceived people, including my wife. I am very sorry about that.
Independent investigator Kenneth Starr's report, September 11, 1998: In the hallway to the study, the President kissed Mrs. Lewinsky. (...) He kissed her bare breasts and played with her genitals. At some point the President put a cigar in Ms. Lewinsky's vagina, then put it back in his mouth and said, "That tastes good."
During the Lewinsky scandal, Hillary Clinton's approval rating rose to 66 percent. It is often like this: Hearts fly to her when she is forced to show weakness.
Gail Sheehy: During this time, Bill and Hillary have become estranged from each other. I met them at a fundraising gala outside of New York. They slept in different wings of the house, but at dinner Bill made a speech praising Hillary. Then she went on stage and thanked him coolly. He grabbed her waist, leaned over her like Rhett Butler did over Scarlett O'Hara, and kissed her long. And she just couldn't resist him.
Finally, finally president?
5. Finally, finally president?
Bill Clinton survives the scandal, he remains president - and Hillary stays with him. In November 1998, the New York Senator, a Democrat, announced that he would not stand in the election in two years. Hillary Clinton decides that she will run for political office for the first time in her life.
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