Sunday, December 9, 2007
"NEW YORK SENATOR" AND "FORMER FIRST LADY" ARE MERELY THE BOLDFACE TITLES ON A LONG POLITICAL RESUME THAT BEGAN WHEN
Hillary Rodham, then 18, volunteered for Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign and wore a "Goldwater girl" outfit with a cowgirl hat.
If she has a career signature, it is a tireless capacity for committee work, which she demonstrated first at Wellesley College and then at Yale Law School. Biographer Carl Bernstein noted her "willingness to participate in the drudgery of government rather than simply direct policy from Olympian heights."
After Yale, she worked as a staff lawyer for the Children's Defense Fund, and as a House Judiciary Committee aide during the Watergate scandal. That made it all the more baffling to her friends when she moved to Arkansas to marry Yale classmate Bill Clinton, says college roommate Jan Piercy.
While first lady of Arkansas, Hillary Clinton became the only female partner at the Rose Law Firm, gave birth to daughter Chelsea, and chaired state committees on education reform and rural health. But she also gave in to political pressure to drop her maiden name, and got her first taste of the controversy she would invite as an active political wife.
The Clintons tried to replicate what he called their "two-for-one" model in the White House, where Hillary kept an office in the West Wing, attended senior staff meetings and took charge of reforming the nation's health-care system. She endured years of investigation of her financial dealings and painful revelations about her husband's involvement with a White House intern -- both the result, she said, "of a vast right-wing conspiracy."
When she announced her candidacy for the Senate in 2000, she was denounced as an out-of-state carpetbagger but won easily. She was reelected in 2006 with 67 percent of the vote, sweeping Republican areas of the state.
-- Sally Jenkins