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Category: Politics, Great Women, Media

Hillary Clinton’s Future—Full of Possibilities

| February 7, 2013

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Hillary Clinton bids goodbye to State Department employees, February 1, 2013; photo: Department of State

The author, who has closely followed Hillary Clinton's career, writes that pundits are posing the wrong question about Clinton's future.

It is a bit like playing parlor games trying to guess whether or not Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016. However, I suppose journalists just can’t help but put the ubiquitous question  to Clinton and anyone who has ever written about her.

Having had the question recently asked of me, I’d like to suggest that instead of wondering, “Will she run?” a better question might be, “Why would she or why wouldn’t she run?”

So, here is my take on those questions:

Why Hillary Clinton would run:

Because she may win. She knows what it is like to mount a presidential campaign as the candidate and now she’s prepared (or prepared as anyone can be) for the abusive third party advertisements and press treatment.

She wants to lead with her vision for America. She has been a loyal soldier in Obama’s army, but she would do things differently. This would be her chance.

Why she won’t run:

To work on women and girls’ initiatives full-time. She may be able to do more for the causes she cares about out of office, such as fighting for the rights of women and children. A review of her significant speeches shows her passion for this mission field. As I tell my communications students, we can learn a lot from speeches.

A huge part of her farewell speech as secretary of state was devoted to women and girls’ issues:

. . . it’s not a coincidence that virtually every country that threatens regional and global peace is a place where human rights are in peril or the rule of law is weak.

More specifically, places where women and girls are treated as second-class, marginal human beings. Just ask young Malala from Pakistan. Ask the women of northern Mali who live in fear and can no longer go to school. Ask the women of the Eastern Congo who endure rape as a weapon of war.

And that is the final lever that I want to highlight briefly. Because the jury is in, the evidence is absolutely indisputable: If women and girls everywhere were treated as equal to men in rights, dignity, and opportunity, we would see political and economic progress everywhere. So this is not only a moral issue, which, of course, it is. It is an economic issue and a security issue, and it is the unfinished business of the 21st century. It therefore must be central to U.S. foreign policy.

One of the first things I did as secretary was to elevate the Office of Global Women’s Issues under the first ambassador-at-large, Melanne Verveer. And I’m very pleased that yesterday, the President signed a memorandum making that office permanent.

In the past four years, we’ve made – (applause) – thank you. In the past four years, we’ve made a major push at the United Nations to integrate women in peace and security-building worldwide, and we’ve seen successes in places like Liberia. We’ve urged leaders in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya to recognize women as equal citizens with important contributions to make. We are supporting women entrepreneurs around the world who are creating jobs and driving growth.

Read the whole transcript here. And then, to realize how long these have been among her major concerns, refer back to 1995 when then First Lady Clinton gave a passionate speech on behalf of the rights of women and girls in Beijing, China.

The electorate demands a new drug, so to speak. She isn’t an exciting, new candidate. We are a fickle voting public and Secretary Clinton’s star turn as the secretary of state will recede quickly from the memories of many voters.

I believe that one of the reasons Barack Obama was successful is that we were swept away with his new, fresh face and his compelling story. We know (or think we know) Secretary Clinton’s story, almost by heart!

Why go through it? It is a brutal slog, that running for president gig. And though some of us think she got more right than wrong with her last effort, she still lost. 

Help the party while having a life. Without taking it on as a full-time job, she can help the Democratic nominee more than almost anyone else in the party.

Finish her formal career on a high note. Hillary Clinton has transformed the role of first lady, served as a respected senator, and a highly effective secretary of state. She was the first non-symbolic female to run for president, and she almost won the Democratic nomination.

Before we know it candidates for 2016 will begin to line up and perhaps Secretary Clinton will be among them. OK, I took my shot at the parlor game of the moment. Your turn.

The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author alone and do not represent WMC. WMC is a 501(c)(3) organization and does not endorse candidates.

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