I can't help but like the Clintons.
As Hillary Clinton announced last week she'd be running for president — a woman whose inevitable candidacy most of us had understood since 1999 and probably before — thoughts of a new Clinton presidency and all it could potentially entail began to swirl through my head. Might we see 1993's attempt at sweeping health-care reform come to fruition? Could the new administration pursue a broad domestic agenda even with the budget woes it would face? How the hell could Bill keep from getting bored when relegated to his new, limited role in the wing opposite that from which he used to lead the free world?
Actually, it's peculiar that I entered this phase of self-query at all, because I don't even consider myself to be on the Clinton bandwagon this time around (I have much to learn about the 2008 candidates before I can really form an opinion, but I simply question whether Hillary Clinton could possibly sway any of her adamant critics, who I believe constitute about 51 percent of the electorate [the other 49 percent of the electorate being — I believe — Clinton supporters]). Still, I couldn't help but fantasize about the possibilities of what — given Hillary Clinton's commitment and work ethic — would undoubtedly be one of the most productive presidencies the country has ever seen.
Maybe the lure of hope the Clintons have come to represent, mixed with my own nostalgia for Bill Clinton's tenure in office, were too much to resist even as I tried to kick off my research of the 2008 race with a theme of pragmatism. Although I had essentially deemed the race un-winnable for Hillary, I still couldn't resist resorting to my deep curiosity about and reverence of the Clintons.
It's funny, because I believe that — unlike many of the power couple's most ardent admirers — I can willingly acknowledge everything about them that might be considered less-than-honorable.
I realize that the things I like most about Bill Clinton — his tolerance, progressive social views and seemingly genuine empathy for the plights of many — unfortunately, played less of a role in his popularity than his political finesse. I realize that Hillary Clinton's brilliance and perseverance in overcoming countless barriers and her honest belief that she can make change in Washington are all wonderful, noble qualities that might nonetheless be considered marred by their counterparts — a willingness to repeatedly compromise principle in the name of honing a political image, the apparent treatment of her political rise as some sort of recompense and a public life so politically calculated that she can sometimes be uncomfortable to watch. And I realize that the Clinton marriage is probably based more on politics than on love (although, strangely, this doesn't bother me as much as I feel it should).
Really, my high regard for this American political family, I suppose, stems from the same reason as many other Clinton aficionados: I can relate to the Clintons in that I'd like to believe, deep down, I hold very high ideals, yet, at the same time, I realize just how imperfect a person I am.
Every time Bill Clinton is slightly evasive in answering a question, and every time Hillary Clinton goes on tour, trying (and failing) to be everything to everybody, it's hard not to be reflective and wonder whether criticizing such behavior would be hypocritical. And when it comes down to it, I wonder whether I wouldn't prefer a leader with these shortcomings who hoped and effectively worked in people's best interests. And every time I wonder this, I always realize that I would prefer such a leader.
I do question Hillary's electability, but even if I support another candidate, I don't know that I'll be truly disappointed should she win the primary.
Rob Rossmeissl ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in journalism and political science.