“The weekend talk shows were abuzz with talk about Hillary Clinton.” The preceding sentence could have been written any time over the last 20 years. Ed Rogers thinks the fact that Hillary Clinton interests people is a disadvantage for her. The truth is that for Clinton it is a way of life. The scrutiny she bears has always been intense. Sometimes it has been out of criticism, and sometimes it has been due to admiration, but it is always intense. And there was no reason to expect that it would be less so even as she takes a break from having official public duties.
The irony is that Clinton understands the public scrutiny better than the “Hillary-watchers” do. At this point she just doesn’t sweat it. She lives with the knowledge — and a deeply held belief — that she just needs to stay true to herself and follow her own path. The media will herald her or try to pull her down depending on the day and the issue, but since they won’t leave her alone, she doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about their actions.
That will be particularly true in this next year as she defines her post-State Department life. She is a hero to women and girls around the world for her work on pushing for representation of women in newly forming governments around the world; for her aid programs furthering girls’ education and microfinance for women-owned businesses and so much more. Much of what she fostered in other countries will be useful to her as she spends increasing time on the women and girls of the United States and the need for focus on education and job opportunities.
But most important, the United States will see a different Clinton as she emerges from her non-political State Department cocoon. We will see a Hillary Clinton confident in her capabilities and secure in her own brand. I have said many times over the years that a fundamental misstep of Clinton’s 2008 campaign was the originating premise that she needed to convince the country that a woman could serve as well as a man could as commander in chief. That concern guided an approach that took Clinton fundamentally off track from her core strength. America wants to connect with our leaders. And the Hillary Clinton those of us have known and loved for years — the woman, the friend, the mom and the inspirer in chief — got lost in a nasty he-said, she-said. In fact so much of her natural inspiration was lost in that fight that Barack Obama won the votes of young women ages 18-30.
She has clearly moved on from 2008, and she isn’t going to make that mistake again. Over the next few years we will see Hillary Clinton bringing new ideas for the future to the table. She will be a crucial convener for discussions affecting women and girls globally and at home, and we will see a freshness to her approach that assures the public that she understands how to connect more personally and engage on issues that matter particularly to women.
But one thing is for certain – she won’t do this on our timetable; she will do it on hers.