Thank You Hillary for Michelle’s Sake

I remember in 1993, we were all excited about Bill, hell, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”…. a man young and hip enough to replace the aging Bush/Reagan legacy; someone like US!  That same enthusiasm prevailed, the same “moderate” talk got swept under the rug during his campaign, right up until “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” became law.

Promises, Promises. Moderate Happens. I digress…..

One thing I do remember was the reaction to Bill’s wife.  Unlike Eleanor Roosevelt, who really broke the first ground, Hillary is very much responsible for the publics reaction to Michelle Obama today. She deserves credit for that much.

Eleanor was an outspoken woman, but even my father recalled her kindly, a matronly type with a mouth on her… every post depression family had at least one.  You know a Momma that ruled the roost, or an Aunt that would spout off anywhere.  They were still housewife types, interesting, charming, a little disarming in their outspokenness, but still non-threatening to the male-dominated world. She might give you a little lip, but dinner would still be on the table at 5 o’clock sharp. Thats how they viewed her, and what not to love about the Roosevelts, whose New Deal brought us out of the Depression?  He was President for life, more or less.

Enter Hillary, one of those collegemaeducated uppity pants-wearing women.  Mentioning “Not a cookie-baker” made the country explode in rage.  Rush coined the term “feminazi” in her honor. In the public’s eye, she was not only a woman who didn’t know her place, but flaunted that she did not care what we thought about her place.

People were pissed that she was sitting in on policy meetings and spearheading health care reform projects.  “We didn’t elect HER, goddamn it!” was the cry, despite her Law Degree and talent on any subject.  They wanted a Jackie to look cute and stay gracefully quiet, not an activist, brought on board by the judgment of the man we elected.  

Had Bill not cheated, she probably wouldn’t have ever been elected anything.

Bear with me here, on my logic in that statement.

The Dittoheads thought for sure she was a man-eating, holding him by the balls bitch that would definitely eviscerate him for that type of thing; they expected her to divorce him and take him to the cleaners, smear him publicly and be, well, a feminazi.

Instead, she stood by her man (cue Tammy Wynette) and said nothing. The religious right couldn’t utter a word about her anymore.  They approved, by GAWD!

Suddenly she had new respect.  Suddenly she could speak places to no boos and hisses. She ran for office on her own merits and won… yeah I am sure there were coattail votes, but she proved a First Lady could in fact have her own mind, thoughts and worth.

I stand here 15 years later and watch the country stand in awe and adoration of Michelle Obama.  She also speaks her own words, her own mind, is articulate, intelligent, educated and opinionated.  Styles aside, that would never have been acceptable prior to a Hillary.  People now want a smart woman alongside their President instead of eye candy, instead of an ornament. They want Collegiate, not Paris Hilton.

That is a huge stride in itself.

So while I am in major disagreement with many of Hillary Clinton’s policies, as a woman, (ok I think she’s become a neo-con in prada) I have to say…

Thanks Hillary.

From Michelle, my fellow women, and from Me.

Michelle?  I hope you move it further yet, and stand in your own light dear.

You make me proud.

2 comments

    • Diane G on February 20, 2008 at 8:54 pm
      Author

    Not a hugely substantial essay, but food for thought.

  1. scraping the bottom of the barrel over this one. Pat Buchanan was frothing at the mouth. My favorite thing he said was ‘My god, her children! How can they learn about patriotism with a mother like that.’ I really cracked up at his performance.

    Never got excited about the Clinton’s but your right she did change the perceptions of first ladies. Give me Eleanor anytime over Hillary. My mom was a fanatic Eleanor Roosevelt fan so I was raised with a hard act to follow, heroine liberal wise. I always thought Hillary was the brains of the two, He was the charmer she the hard political strategy one. She described herself when younger as “a mind conservative and a heart liberal”, her mind and ambition seem to have won out.          

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