Friday, Hillary Rodham Clinton stepped off the world stage and John Kerry took over as Secretary of State. Watching her send off at the State Department, I grew a little nostalgic for the time when Hillary’s star first appeared in the political firmament. Looking back, the era of the Clinton presidency truly feels like the “good old days” people write songs about; life before the Twin Towers fell, before Iraq and Afghanistan wearied us, before climate change brought mega-storms, and the Great Recession spread unemployment and foreclosures. The first Clinton era, seen from the vantage point of 2013, seems like a happier, definitely sexier time, when we had the luxury of obsessing about stained blue dresses and presidential phone sex.
I remember when Hillary adopted the “Rodham Clinton.” It always felt more like punishment to Bill for his panty lust than it did a feminist reclamation of her maiden name, which, by the way, she used up until the time Chelsea was born. I wasn’t into politics back then, so my first introduction to Hillary was the 60 Minutes interview she and Bill did with Mike Wallace after Bill’s affair with Gennifer Flowers came to light; the one where she famously said “I’m not going to be some Tammy Wynette stand by your man?” I remember I talked back to the TV when I heard her say that, sniping “Yes you are, that’s exactly who you are.” I was not a fan.
But I changed my mind. Or rather, over time, Hillary changed my mind for me. As First Lady, the first of her breed to have been a working woman and not just an arm decoration, I gave Hillary a second look, and I liked what I saw. She wanted, and got, an office in the West Wing, the center of power. Bill may have fooled around sexually, but he spoke of Hillary proudly as a co-president, telling voters, “elect me, you’ll get two.” But what impressed me most was that Hillary lived her life as an equal to men. As a female executive in a male dominated field, I tried to emulate her self-confidence. I came to see Hillary was truly not just “standing by her man.” She was a totally new type of role model for women.
As an extra-added bonus, the Right Wing hated Hillary with the same unbridled zeal they now hate President Obama. This made her excellent govertainment which, with apologies to all you policy wonks, has always been the attraction of politics to me. Back then, the people who see the scary black helicopters and the face of Jesus on toast, concocted just as many crazy conspiracy theories about Hillary as they do today about our Kenyan-born, gay, Muslim, President. In fact, some of these rumors persist to this day.
For instance, there have always been whispers that Hillary is gay. I believe the irrefutable logic goes: Bill is a hound dog, therefore Hillary must be a lesbian. That same rumor surfaced again quite recently when Congressman Anthony Weiner was busted tweeting crotch shots. The fringe has it in their heads that the former congressman’s wife, Huma Abedin, is Hillary’s lover, and according to Congresswoman Michle Bachmann, a spy for the Muslim Brotherhood, which definitely thickens the plot. Some even say Huma was a hired hand, paid $800,000 for her lesbian lover services, to which I say, damn, she must be gooooood.
I can imagine Hillary as gay. I just can’t imagine her in the closet.
I also love the tales of Hillary as assassin. I like to think of her, coal-blackened face, dressed as a ninja, sneaking past her Secret Service security detail to shoot her law firm partner, Vince Foster, with whom she was rumored to be having an long term affair. Oddly, the Vince Foster rumor has never seemed to put a damper on the whole Hillary is a lesbian rumor.
Or how about Hillary jumping out of the plane moments before it crashed into the mountainside killing Commerce Secretary Ron Brown? Can’t you just see her floating down on her parachute to sleepy Dubrovnik, with no one the wiser. Mission accomplished. I nominate Hillary as the next James Bond!
And while we’re swapping Hillary stories, she was the original Christine O’Donnell. Hillary was accused of being a witch of the occult. One interesting piece of evidence her accusers cited for this accusation was the Christmas tree in the White House Blue Room that Hillary supposedly decorated with a sexually explicit set of ornaments depicting the 12 Days of Christmas. This story is every bit as good as anything they’ve thrown at the Obamas. An FBI agent assigned to the White House named Gary Aldrich, claimed when he was asked to help with the tree trimming, he found all 10 Lords a Leaping had erections, the 3 French hens were engaged in a menage a trios, and the 5 golden rings were body piercings on a gingerbread man. Best govertainment ever.
Of course, as Secretary of State, Hillary came into her own. She was accepted by the entire world as a woman equal to men, admired and respected everywhere she went. She genuinely loved the world, and they loved her back. I never failed to smile watching her dance and sing with ordinary people of so many countries. She laughs the most delicious laugh; like the time she cracked up for half a minute when her photo op was interrupted by a streaker. I loved all those glimpses of her personality. But mostly, I will remember Hilary as a fierce advocate for the rights of women. And I will never forget December 6, 2011, when she carved out a spot for herself in gay history with her speech to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, when she said “Gay rights are human rights.” Those are words history will remember.
Four years turned out to be not enough time. I feel like a friend has moved away, and I’m not sure we’ll ever meet again. So today, we conjure up good memories, and we say “Farewell, but not goodbye, Madame Secretary”. Please don’t stay away too long.