Ever wonder how a President Hillary Clinton would be faring right now? Well, watch the new Hulu documentary Hillary, and you might get a pretty good idea about how things could be remarkably different.
First, let's get rid of the elephant in the room. The Hillary documentary on Hulu made news recently because Bill Clinton gave another reason, or excuse, or another questionable explanation as to why he had a fling with Monica Lewinsky. The short answer, it was to help him relieve "anxiety" during the tension filled government shutdown of 1996.
Yet another defense from Bill that prompted head scratching and eye rolls. He would have been far better off being honest and saying, "I've had a hard time (pun intended) keeping my cuckoo in its clock most of my life, and I saw a young vulnerable intern and did something really stupid." To Clinton, it was just another shifting explanation that marred, yet again, a story that should have been all about Hillary. And his revelation cast that questionable shadow about the Clintons' ability to double talk, obfuscate, and deflect fault.
Which is what I thought the Hulu documentary would ultimately be about, dusting off all the old Clintons' accusations, legitimate or not, and having them address the allegations with well-worn, rehearsed explanations. All shined up with a practiced sincerity. There were some of those moments for sure, but as I wrestled with questioning each of her answers throughout the four-part series, I also found myself begrudgingly admiring her and that pesky stick-to-itiveness, and how that would be invaluable right now during this unprecedented Coronavirus crisis.
Have I just become another apologist for Hillary, or did America miss out on extraordinary leadership that would have made a noteworthy difference?
As this is Women's History Month, it's fitting that a new, spruced up documentary about Hillary would hit the airwaves. Because within Hillary, and throughout her remarkable life, she has inspired, provoked, and grazed history like no other woman in our lifetime, and beyond.
Hillary was a wunderkind from her first foray in the real world at Wellesley College. As the first female student at the school to deliver a commencement address, she basically rebuked the keynoter, Senator Edward Brooke, who, paraphrasing here, told the "girls" in the audience to play nice and stay in their place.
In the documentary, Hillary's classmates revealed that when it came time for her to speak, she discarded her speech and responded to Senator Brooke by saying "to hell with you" more or less. When you think about it, that took guts, especially at that time, and at her age. Courageous.
She went on to work for the Watergate Committee. Let me tell you, the members of the committee weren't hiring schmucks at that critical point in our nation's history. Hillary was unique and whip-smart, and the committee knew that's what they were getting. Dedication.
At this point in her life, she had a ticket to do anything she wanted, and she gave into her heart instead of her head, went to Arkansas, and married the man she loved. The move seemed so foolish. Who would have thought that it was the most consequential decision she'd ever make in her life? That this person would come out of backwater country to become the most admired woman in the world.
She became a stand-out First Lady of Arkansas and a partner at Arkansas's largest law firm. This is when all the trouble started for Hillary. Surely, folks thought, she achieved this status because she was the First Lady, and of course gained financially because of her marital relationship with the governor. None of this has ever been proven, and I think if you knew Hillary at this point, you knew she had strong moral and ethical values and achieved her partnership because she worked hard for it and deserved it.
After watching the documentary, for the first time in my cynical mind, I gave into the fact that Hillary got the short end of the stick more times than she did not. Whitewater was just a joke. The Clintons lost lots of money. And yet Bill and Hillary were labeled as thieves. This all of course led to the Monica affair. And while Hillary got a ton of sympathy, it took a really strong woman to stay in the marriage, use her experience to lift herself up, push herself forward and work not to be labeled as the scorned wife.
What followed was a seat in the Senate representing New York, a failed run for the presidency, then being deservedly chosen for the job of secretary of State where she shined.
It's easy to forget that the George W. Bush administration left a mess of a reputation for the United States on the international stage after the Iraq war. And newly elected President Obama knew someone with gravitas needed to assume the top diplomatic post and get America's stature back. He picked Hillary, and as she had done with everything else in her life, she approached her vaulted cabinet position with the culmination of all the industrious superlatives she had earned throughout her life.
That assiduousness is how she handled her presidential campaign, which probably cost her the election. That and the now foolish looking inquiries into Benghazi and her email. America has become a knee-jerk, short-term, reactionary and divisive society. Someone with seriousness, in this instance, Hillary, was shunted for someone who reflected the flippant disarray of the populous. In other words, we probably got what was coming to us by (the Electoral College) opting for her opponent.
And now with the coronavirus, we see where someone with empathy, and who is properly equipped with methodical preparation skills, diligence, courage and dedication should be helming the federal government. Her leadership, and all that she had learned and garnered through her life, would be invaluable today. In her wake, we are left with chaos, confusion, and carelessness. America reeling behind leadership that is lurching. It might have been so different with President Hillary.
As a political junkie, I was personally hard on Hillary after the election in 2016. I thought she blew it, and she did. And though hindsight is 20/20, perhaps we are the ones that deserve most of the blame? Hillary did what she always did, which was to overthink, over-analyze, over-compensate, and over-plan, which in short term parlance means she aimed to be responsibly prepared. Voters in 2016 simply and carelessly overreacted -- the antithesis to the person of Hillary. And now, with the coronavirus, with all the unrest, with the panic buying, with all the fear, isolation and doubt, wouldn't a calming and disciplined voice like Hillary's help keep us all from overreacting again?
We will never know, but if history is any indication, all that Hillary did throughout her remarkable life will leave all of us, and historians wondering, could things have been remarkably different, especially during this perilous time?
JohnCaseyis a PR professional and an adjunct professor at Wagner College in New York City, and a frequent columnist for The Advocate. Follow John on Twitter @johntcaseyjr.