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I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it... for all the people in this country who feel invisible?—Hillary Clinton
The wife of former President Bill Clinton and a lawyer and politician in her own right,
First Lady Senator Secretary of State Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is easily the most politically active First Lady in American history.
A graduate of Wellesley College and Yale Law School, Clinton spent years working as a lawyer, specializing in child services and welfare. She met Bill Clinton when both were students at Yale Law School and married him in 1975. By the time her husband ran for Governor of Arkansas, she was already well known as a lawyer and politician in her own right and had come to national attention as the first student ever to give the commencement address at renowned Wellesley College, her alma mater, and as the first-ever female partner at Arkansas' prestigious Rose Law Firm.
She was a highly controversial First Lady, making health care reform her pet project (First Ladies typically try to pick a project as noncontroversial as possible, such as literacy or childhood obesity) and generally attracting attention for her hands-on approach. The moniker "Billary" and the "two-for-one" jokes may have been funny, but they also held more than a grain of truth - and the contrast was even more marked after the distinctly hands-off, stay-at-home policies of former First Ladies such as Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan.
Her tenure as First Lady, however, was only the beginning for Clinton - she became the first First Lady to hold political office in her own right when she took her oath as Senator (D-NY) in early 2001 - just months before the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center. Obviously, as New York's junior Senator, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 she was instrumental in shaping America's response to the attacks. Later on during her time in the Senate she campaigned further for health care as well as speaking up for rural areas such as upstate New York and the areas around Albany and Syracuse.
She won again by a significant margin in 2006, but left the Senate to engage in the closest primary election in American history - the 2008 Presidential race on the Democratic ticket. Up against Barack Obama, she won over 18 million votes around the country and was the first serious female candidate for the Presidency in history (Michele Bachmann, in the 2012 Presidential race on the Republican ticket, was the second). She fought the campaign out right up to the Democratic National Convention and spoke in favor of her former rival as its keynote speaker on its second night. Since Defeat Means Friendship, she joined Obama's cabinet as Secretary of State (becoming the first First Lady to serve on the Cabinet... are we seeing a running theme here?) and has used her many foreign contacts from her days as First Lady to assist in restoring America's image around the globe. She has also achieved the commendable feat of a 70% approval rating at a time when the President's rating was somewhere in the 50s. She currently says she has no interest in running for a political office again, but time will tell.
Although several different biographies of her have been written, she has also written her own autobiography, Living History.
Clinton's policies, image, and general existence are highly controversial and as with all things political, No Fighting.
- Berserk Button:
- Don't ask her about Bill's opinion.
- Funny enough, the person was actually asking what President Obama's opinion was; as a member of his administration, it's certainly a fair question to ask. What she thought had been said resulted from a translation error.
- Creator Couple: She was the first First Lady to have an office in the West Wing. Her staff was known as "Hillaryland."
- Defeat Means Friendship: As noted above, she joined Obama's Cabinet as Secretary of State. He later stated that he would have served on hers as well, had she won the election and asked him to do so. She offered him the position of her Vice President several times during the primary, but Obama had foresight enough to know he still had a chance to win.
- Determinator: Say what you will about the woman, it cannot be said that she gives up easily.
- Enemy Mine:
- In early 2008, as the Democratic Primaries were heating up, the unthinkable happened: a good number of Republicans were actually warming up to Hillary Clinton over her rival, Barack Obama. With a bitter, contested primary fight going on, the Democrats having a Broken Base, her being criticized by some on the left for a perceived hawkishness on The War on Terror, some commentators at MSNBC criticizing her campaign tactics, and a number of her supporters disaffected with Obama, some Republicans not only favored their once worst enemy over her rival, but also over their own candidate, John McCain.
- This was partially due to some Republicans feeling that McCain was not conservative enough. Particularly, it was thought that Clinton was likely to be tougher on terrorism than either McCain or Obama. It was also perceived that she criticized Obama in harsher terms than McCain did.
- Happily Married: She is still married to -- and still very much in love with -- Bill Clinton. Although her autobiography Living History chronicles her struggle to forgive him for the 1998 Lewinsky scandal, she concludes that despite his betrayal, she loves him, has always loved him, and cannot imagine a life without him.
- Loophole Abuse: A point of contention during Hillary's Senate campaign: she never actually lived in New York until she decided to run for election as their senator, and there was no rule against her moving there for that purpose and running. (The incumbent who held the seat before her was retiring so it was an open field).
- Love At First Sight: On Bill's part, apparently. When she walked over and introduced herself, he forgot his own name for a few seconds.
- Memetic Outfit:
- During the first years of Bill's presidency, she was somewhat famous for wearing headbands. During an appearance on the Tyra Banks Show, she mentioned that she considered headbands one of the best things invented since the telephone, and would probably still wear them had they not fallen out of style.
- Her pantsuits later became the fashion choice of note. The two most famous moments are likely at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, when her aides had a rainbow of suits that they camera and light tested; and on the campaign trail in 2000 in New York, when Hillary herself said that she had been campaigning so hard she had gone through 3 black pantsuits.
- Power Hair: Her changing hairstyles were a bizarre obsession with many Americans. Eventually she settled on her signature style. She's since let it go because her daughter asked her to for her wedding.
- Sand in My Eyes: During the famous Situation Room photo, Hillary has her hand over her mouth, and looked very stressed or worried. She says that she has a spring allergy and was suppressing a cough.
- Single-Issue Wonk: For a while, she was most famous for her advocacy of public healthcare, to the point that her proposal was derisively referred to as "Hillarycare". Since taking the office of Secretary, this characterization of her has diminished.
- Stress Bleach: Her hair is grayer now than it was when she took her oath as Secretary of State, and she has been looking increasingly more haggard as she deals with a rather delicate international situation. This is not surprising, as on the international stage she is only marginally less important than the Joint Chiefs and the President himself.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Clinton's replacement in the Senate (later confirmed in a special election) was blonde Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, who not only shares most of Clinton's political ideology, but also bears a certain resemblance to her.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance:
- Chelsea looks frighteningly like her mother in this picture. If she follows anything even remotely resembling a political career (which her degree in history makes possible), it'll probably become something of a Generation Xerox, too.
- Now sort-of confirmed: Chelsea will be working for NBC News, including both the Nightly News and Rock Center. Either way, she's working with Brian Williams.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: She once was Obama's opponent, now she's his Secretary of State. (Although it should be noted that they were opponents, not enemies. Even when they were facing off in '08, their respect for each other despite their disagreements was clear.)