Unless your name is Karen Finney or Huma Abedin you probably have mixed feelings about Hillary Clinton. Lately ‘All In With Chris Hayes’ has shown her through the years, presumably so that we may understand who she is by knowing who she once was, but it has only gotten more confusing. There is the nerd just out of Yale Law School, the young Governor’s wife with the baby daughter, the spouse who fiercely stood by her man, the hands-on First Lady who tried to give us universal health care, the victim of gross betrayal in the Oval Office, the carpetbagger who became the junior Senator from New York, the failed candidate for the Democratic nomination, the Secretary of State who logged more miles than any of her predecessors, and now again the candidate who could become the first female President.
She’s been through everything one can think of and then some. When she entered the front door of her husband’s headquarters during his very first campaign in Arkansas his girlfriends were discretely shoved out through the back door. She endured the public humiliation caused by her husband’s infidelities during his quest to get into the White House. She was accused of being involved in a shady land deal and of somehow having caused the death of her friend and former colleague Vince Foster. When the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke some sleazy commentators blamed her for it, because allegedly she didn’t have the caliber of femininity her husband needed, or, more explicitly, because she was a lesbian.
Any normal person would have ended up in the nuthouse or on a heavy dose of tranquillizers, but Hillary is not a normal person. In fact she has always been two persons. That sweet and innocent young mother in Arkansas was also a lawyer who could tear her opponents apart in the courtroom. In the White House she was feared by all the President’s men, and she was not willing to compromise on any issue in negotiations with Congress. The price for her forgiving her husband was his complete devotion to her political career. Simultaneously she was able to show strength and passion, listen carefully to the citizens of New York who would elect her, flash a disarming smile whenever needed, and get into drinking contests with Senator McCain, an important bi-partisan gesture.
Now that she’s under attack for the Clintons’ usual paranoid transgressions and the Benghazi drama that Republicans have turned into a farce, her two personalities are on display every day. She can be attentive, curious and caring in her meetings with voters and suddenly turn into a harridan, who responds to specific questions from the press only in broad generalizations and camouflages her uncertainty during the brief moment when she is shifting personalities with an unnatural, joyless, cackling laugh.
It often appears that Hillary is a phony, but she’s not. Both personalities are genuine, and because likeability is an important factor in presidential elections one can only hope that we’ll see sweet Hillary much more often than the shrew. After all, for now she’s the only two persons who stand in the way of a presidency that would keep the planet on a path to destruction, help the GOP dismantle democracy, increase poverty and income inequality, create the conditions for a new economic meltdown, and start the next war.