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Paying homage to Hillary Clinton

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By Rick Howell

Right now, no one wants to think much about the 2016 presidential race. But to the extent that it is discussed, one name always pops up: Hillary Clinton.
    Most Democrats believe that Hillary could more or less have the nomination for asking if she chooses to run. But that’s a long way off, and if she never seeks another office or another government post, it’s time to honor this incredible American woman.
    Her term as Secretary of State for President Barack Obama is about to end, and she deserves credit for a job well done. Few of her predecessors have travelled as much or worked as hard. Political observers of both parties give her much credit for her performance.
    Along with the president, she has restored the credibility of American foreign policy, which was so damaged by the swaggering, warmongering policies of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the “neocons” who led us into the unnecessary war in Iraq.
    Under Bush and Cheney, the U.S. acted as a rogue nation, which we were justifiably called, lying to its own citizens and to the world about Iraq. The impression we made was that we will start a war whenever we want to, regardless of what the world community thinks.
    From the outset, President Obama set out to correct this, ending the unpopular Iraq war, and sending the world a message that the United States does indeed respect the goals and aspirations of the other countries that occupy this planet. (And, by the way, there was no “apology tour,” as simple minds have suggested.)
    Hillary’s career needs to be seen in the context of the progress that American women have made in politics and other aspects of life, despite the efforts of white, male conservatives to keep them barefoot and pregnant.
    In my column last week about the Lincoln movie, I noted that the only thing that horrified most white males at that time more than blacks voting was the idea of women voting. History shows us that women were never allowed to vote in the United States until 1920.
    Hillary’s early story is largely known. She grew up in a Chicago suburb as the daughter of a middle class Republican family. She came of age in the turbulent 1960s, and found her father’s conservative politics unable to meet the challenges of the age.
    Meeting and falling in love with a young law student from Arkansas changed her life, although she would clearly have had her own public career without Bill Clinton.
    As she accompanied her husband through both his days as Arkansas governor and president, she acted upon her own agenda. In Arkansas, it was education reform. In Washington, her health care reform efforts were defeated by the same insurance industry lobbyists who so roundly condemned “Obamacare.”
    Then, Hillary made history that probably won’t be matched for a long time. She was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York while still serving as First Lady.
    Women across America have no greater champion than Hillary Clinton. She has stood up strongly for women’s rights, from abortion rights and other choices, to career opportunities. Aside from Nancy Pelosi, she has probably been more demonized by white, male conservatives than any other figure.
    As Secretary of State, she has been welcomed to many countries where she knows women are mistreated, especially in the Arab world.
    She spoke about this recently, expressing the hope that women’s rights will one day be visible everywhere.
If she decides to run next time, and if the GOP is still stewing in its own right-wing extremism, she’ll beat them handily. And she’ll make a great President of the United States, and would once again make history.

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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.