The Meaning of Hillary Clinton's Candidacy

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), August 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

The Meaning of Hillary Clinton's Candidacy


When Hillary Clinton was a youngster in Park Ridge, little girls didnt dream of some day growing up to become president.

Little girls dreams were confined for a large number of them to what their husbands might become. If they dreamt of the White House, it was, ironically enough, a dream of occupying it as a first lady, the traditional way Hillary Clinton actually did end up occupying it.

Imagine, if you will, the pallid America of 1947, the achromatic place and time where she was born.

It was a time when it was not uncommon for an adult woman to be known by her husbands name. Mrs. Bill Clinton, it could easily have been then, with barely a hint of Hillary at all.

The U.S. Senate had 96 members, none of them women. The U.S. House of Representatives had 435 members; seven were women. Of those seven, three ended up in office as sentimental surrogates appointed to fill their dead husbands seats.

One of those three emerged, however, as something different: Margaret Chase Smith, Republican from Maine, later ran for president when Clinton was 16. When Smith announced her bid in 1964, she became the first woman in the history of the republic to seek a major party presidential nomination.

Can you imagine? The first. Almost 188 years after the nation was founded.

Even then, Smiths candidacy was not taken seriously. It had significance as a historical precedent, but not much more. Her 27 convention delegates did not stir Oval Office fascinations. In his famous "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" speech at the Republican convention that year, nominee Barry Goldwater warmly mentioned Richard Nixon, Thurston Morton, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower and Abraham Lincoln, but there was no polite acknowledgment of Margaret Chase Smith. …

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