Hillary Rodham Clinton: Vision, Competence, and Experience

BY MAGGIE O’GRADY

Presidential Preview: Your Picks for 2008

In the last month, a host of politicians have joined the presidential race for 2008. The Record asked students to explain which candidate they’re most excited about; in the coming weeks, we’ll be running columns in support of all the major candidates. Don’t see your favorite candidate represented? Email record@law.harvard.edu and make your opinion heard.

When Hillary Rodham Clinton ran for the Senate in 2000, she was dismissed by her vehement critics as a calculating carpetbagger, entering a political arena where she had no business. Now consider what Senator Clinton accomplished in the state campaign and as the Junior Senator from New York. It is indicative of what she can accomplish in this national campaign and as the President of the United States.

Hillary Rodham Clinton won her first senate race in town hall meetings in upstate New York. While her name recognition was surely a springboard to victory, especially downstate, she connected with New York citizens on the frontlines of the upstate economy about jobs, housing, health care, and education. While in the Senate, she proved that her commitment to these issues was not just campaign fodder, and won re-election with 67% of the vote. If that’s not a mandate for her to continue and expand her effective leadership, what is?

One of the best examples of Senator Clinton’s leadership has been her efforts on behalf of New Yorkers affected by the September 11th attacks. In the years since that day, it has been common for politicians to swing into Ground Zero, make an impassioned speech about patriotism, and then swing out again. Meanwhile, Senator Clinton has been working on the real issues affecting New Yorkers in the aftermath of 9/11. She lead the fight to provide long term medical care for first responders, as well as for rescue workers in future disasters, and she has been working to secure the homeland security and redevelopment funds originally promised to New York.

Those of us who oppose the war in Iraq can easily decry her vote to authorize it. But now, Senator Clinton is leading the effort to genuinely support the troops. She has fought for continued health care for veterans, opposes the surge, and recently filed a bill to cap the number of troops and begin withdrawal. Bush would have gone to war without Senator Clinton. We have yet to see if he can get out without her.

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s career has included stints as a staff attorney and later a board member for the Children’s Defense Fund, director of a legal aid clinic in Arkansas, partner in a law firm, and leader of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession. She was twice named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. And oh, yes, she’s been a revolutionary First Lady, twice-elected Senator from New York, and a mother.

Senator Clinton is also a seasoned candidate. The opposition has already flung everything they can at her, and she has continued to thrive, by repeatedly breaking down gender barriers and garnering support among the unlikely. Senator Clinton is a centrist – in a good way. She can support a woman’s right to choose while working to limit the number of abortions. She can fail at providing universal health care as First Lady, and then be a leader in the field again, with Newt Gingrich singing her praises. She’s able to do this because she’s an intellectual, a diligent public servant, and a statesman with sense and foresight.

After eight years of incompetence, it is competence we should be seeking in a president above anything else, and Hillary Rodham Clinton is competent above anyone else. She has the breadth and depth of experience, and the vision for and confidence in our country that we need. We can all be eager to hand her the future of this nation, faithfully, gladly, and without apology.

Maggie O’Grady is a student at HLS.

Comments