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The Cheese Stands Alone

wellesley-hrc-lake-waban2

Hillary Rodham, then, now, forever.

What’s in a name?

According to recent history, Hillary Rodham changed her name, the name she loved and was determined to keep since she was a child, in order to help her husband win re-election to be Governor of Arkansas. This article from The Atlantic explains why she did it:

When The New York Times profiled the newly-elected Governor Clinton, it noted that he “is married to an ardent feminist, Hillary Rodham, who will certainly be the first First Lady of Arkansas to keep her maiden name.” The Arkansas Democrat reported, “Despite the fact that she keeps her maiden name, the wife of Arkansas’s new governor, Bill Clinton, claims she’s really an old-fashioned girl.” (I’m indebted to Karen Blumenthal’s forthcoming biography for these anecdotes.) Clinton himself later told The New Yorker’s Connie Bruck, “Hillary told me she was nine years old when she decided she would keep her own name when she got married. It had nothing to do with the feminist movement or anything. She said, ‘I like my name. I was interested in my family. I didn’t want to give it up.’”

Bill Clinton lost reelection in 1980, but decided to run to reclaim his seat two years later. That’s when Hillary Rodham decided it was time to take on Bill’s name, to assist the effort. Here’s how Bill Clinton explained it to Bruck:

“When she came to me and said she wanted to change, I could see in her eyes that she had made the decision to do it. And I said, “I do not want you resenting me. I would a lot rather lose the election than lose you.” She said, “I’m not going anywhere.” I said, “I know, but I don’t want you to resent this for the rest of your life. You made this decision when you were a child. I like it. I approve of the decision. I don’t care about it.” And she said, “Look, Bill, we cannot—this is stupid! We shouldn’t lose the election over this issue. We shouldn’t run this risk. What if it’s one per cent of the vote? What if it’s two per cent? You might win or lose the election by two per cent.”

Two paths in a golden wood and she took the one most travelled by when it comes to names. Were it not for Bill’s re-election, we would be electing President Rodham this year. With the decision to change her name, she tied her fortunes to his.

And this points to what I think is the last barrier between women and the White House. No one who has acceded to the Oval Office has defined himself in terms of another person. Hillary has been associated with Bill Clinton as his wife as much as she has as senator, Secretary of State and presidential nominee. This is what the Republicans and Donald Trump are counting on.

It’s too late for Hillary to change her name back but it’s not too late to reclaim her identity as a person of merit, accomplishment and dignity upon whose shoulders we can rest the heavy weight of the burdens and responsibilities of the most powerful nation of the world.

When she becomes president, it will be she alone who will have the authority and power. hqdefaultTo break the last glass ceiling, she needs to define herself as her own person without reference to any man in her life.

She has the heart of a president, and a President of the United States too. This is the night to show it.

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Secretary of State Clinton reaches out to women in Seoul, Korea

Cross posted from Heidi Li’s Potpourri

Main information crossposted from 51 Percent.

I think that it’s imperative that nations like ours stand up for the rights of women. It is not ancillary to our progress; it is central.” – Hillary Rodham Clinton speakng in Seoul, 2/20/2009

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is doing as many of us expected, using her position to reach out to and therefore empower women around the world. One way women here at home can begin to overcome their differences to work together toward women’s emancipation is to understand what we share in common with women around the world, so that we can all work toward women’s emancipation. Below is the text of Secretary Clinton’s primary remarks, my emphases added.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Town Hall Meeting at Ewha Women’s University
Seoul, South Korea
February 20, 2009
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. (cheers and applause) Thank you so much, President Lee. I am honored to be here at this great university. I wish to thank also Chairperson (inaudible) and the more than 107,000 alumni at this great school. Standing up with me was our Ambassador Kathy Stephens, who has told me that more than 50 graduates of Ewha Womans University work at U.S. Embassy Seoul. We are extremely proud of the education they have received here.

It is a great privilege to stand here before you on the stage of the largest women’s university in the world. And I came to – (applause) – this university as a matter of destiny, because you see, Ewha and I share a connection. (Cheers and applause.) I am a Methodist, my family on my father’s side comes from Scranton, Pennsylvania – (applause) – and I must say that Wellesley College is a sister college for Ewha University. (Applause.) So being an honorary fellow seems right at home today.

I also note that in this audience are some Korean-American friends from New York and California. There are several Wellesley graduates whom I met backstage as well – (applause) – and an extraordinary number of talented young women, faculty members, and administrators.

Learning about this great university and the role that you have played in advancing the status of women made me think about so many of the women throughout history who are inspirations to me: Madame Scranton, someone who started teaching one young woman, and from her dedication and hard work came this university; Eleanor Roosevelt, a pioneering First Lady of the United States and a voice for democracy around the world, and one of the driving forces behind the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. Now, that was more than 50 years ago, but just a few weeks ago, one of Korea’s most accomplished leaders, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, called on all nations worldwide to push for more progress on women’s equality. And I want to thank the Secretary General – (applause) – because he said that women’s empowerment is the key to progress in developing nations.

People who think hard about our future come to the same conclusion, that women and others on society’s margins must be afforded the right to fully participate in society, not only because it is morally right, but because it is necessary to strengthen our security and prosperity.

Before I came out on stage, I met a number of young women who are in political office here in the Republic of  Korea, and I hope I was looking at a future president of this great nation. (Applause.)

As you think about your own futures, keeping in mind security and prosperity and the role that each of us must play, is essential because of the urgent global challenges we face in the 21st century. We need all of our people’s talents to be on the very forefront of setting a course of peace, progress, and prosperity; be it defending our nations from the threat of nuclear proliferation and terror, or resolving the global climate crisis or the current economic crisis, and promoting civil society, especially women’s rights and education, healthcare, clean energy, good governance, the rule of law, and free and fair elections. All of these matters speak to our common desire to make a nation that is safe and strong and secure.

More than half a century ago, this university became the first to prepare women for professions that were formerly reserved for men, including medicine, law, science, and journalism. At about the same time, your government wrote women’s equality into your constitution and guaranteed protections for women in employment. And there have been other rights and protections for women encoded in Korean law in subsequent decades.

These advances coincided with Korea’s transformation from an undeveloped nation to a dynamic democracy, a global economic power, and a hub of technology and innovation. The inclusion of women in the political and economic equation, calling on those talents and contributions from the entire population, not just the male half, was essential to the progress that this country has made.

As I have been on this first trip as Secretary of State, I have visited Japan and Indonesia, and tomorrow I will be in China. I was very impressed by my visit to Indonesia, a young democracy that is demonstrating to the world that democracy, Islam, modernity, and women’s rights can coexist. I met elected women officials. I met high appointed members in the foreign ministry and other cabinet positions in the government. It would be hard to imagine the progress that Indonesia has made in the last ten years, moving from a stagnant autocracy to a burgeoning democracy, without women being part of the reason.

And on Sunday, I’ll meet with women in China to hear about their efforts to improve opportunities for themselves in their own country, another reason why women have to lead the way if there’s going to be higher standards of living, a healthier population, and an actively engaged citizenry.

But no country has yet achieved full equality for women. We still have work to do, don’t we? And just a few weeks ago, President Obama signed into law a new provision protecting women from salary discrimination, a step that was overdue. So there is a lot ahead of us to ensure that gender equality, as President Lee mentioned, becomes a reality. And we also need to remain vigilant against a backlash that tries to turn the clock back on women and human rights, countries where leaders are threatened by the idea of freedom and democracy and women are made the scapegoats. The abuses of women under the Taliban are horrific reminders that just as women had been central to progress in countries like ours, the reverse can happen as well.

Some of you may have seen the news reports some weeks ago of young girls in Afghanistan who were so eager to go to school, and every day they went off with a real light in their eyes because they were finally able to learn.
And one day, a group of these young girls were assaulted by a group of Taliban men who threw acid on them because they had the desire to learn. We have to remain vigilant on behalf of women’s rights.

We see this kind of suppression in different forms in different places. In Burma, the valor of Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous struggle for freedom of expression and conscience. To the North, 70 percent of those leaving North Korea in search of a better life are women, a sad commentary on the conditions in their own country.

So part of my message during this trip and part of my mission as Secretary of State is that the United States is committed to advancing the rights of women to lead more equitable, prosperous lives in safe societies. I view this not only as a moral issue, but as a security issue. I think that it’s imperative that nations like ours stand up for the rights of women. It is not ancillary to our progress; it is central.

In 1995, when I went to the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing and said that women’s rights were human rights, and human rights were women’s rights, people were so excited. But that to me was almost a sad commentary that we had to say something so obvious toward the end of the [twentieth] century.

So here we are in the [twenty-first] century, and every day we make progress, but we can’t be complacent. We have to highlight the importance of inclusion for women. We have to make clear that no democracy can exist without women’s full participation; no economy can be truly a free market without women involved.

I want to use robust diplomacy and development to strengthen our partnerships with other governments and create collaborative networks of people and nongovernmental organizations to find innovative solutions to global problems – what we call smart power.

Today, I’ve come to this great women’s university to hear your thoughts about the future. The other night in Tokyo, I had the privilege to listen to students at Tokyo University, and I came away not only impressed by their intelligence and the quality of their questions, but encouraged by their concern about the future that lay ahead and what each of them wanted to do to make it better.

Today, I’ve held bilateral meetings with your president, your prime minister, and your foreign minister. We have discussed issues like the need to continue the Six-Party Talks to bring about the complete and verifiable denuclearization in North Korea, and how we can better coordinate not only between ourselves, but regionally and globally, on the range of issues that confront us. But in each meeting, we took time to reflect about how far this country has come.

Back in the early 1960s, there were a series of studies done where different groups were looking at nations around the world, trying to calculate which ones would be successful at the end of the 20th century. And many commentators and analysts thought that the chances for the Republic of Korea were limited. But that wasn’t the opinion of the people of Korea. And so for 50 years, you have built a nation that is now assuming a place of leadership in the world, respected for the vibrant democracy, for the advances across the board in every walk of life. And it is a tribute to your understanding of what it takes to make progress at a time of peril and uncertainty.

The relationship between the United States and Korea is deep and enduring, and it is indispensible to our shared security. Without security, children can’t even imagine their futures and may not have the potential to actually live up to their talents. Our two countries have joined together as a force for peace, prosperity, and progress. Korean and American soldiers have served shoulder-to-shoulder in so many places around the world.
We know that the most acute challenge to stability and security in Northeast Asia is the regime in North Korea, and particularly its nuclear program. It bears repeating that President Obama and I are committed to working through the Six-Party Talks. We believe we have an opportunity to move those forward and that it is incumbent upon North Korea to avoid provocative actions and unhelpful rhetoric toward the people and the leaders of the Republic of Korea. Remember that the North Korean Government committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and returning at an early date to the Treaty of Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

And I make the offer again right here in Seoul: If North Korea is genuinely prepared to completely and verifiably eliminate their nuclear weapons program, the Obama Administration will be willing to normalize bilateral relations, replace the peninsula’s longstanding armistice agreement with a permanent peace treaty, and assist in meeting the energy and other economic and humanitarian needs of the Korean people.

Also essential to our shared security and prosperity is a resolution to the global economic crisis. Korea and the United States have both benefited from a strong economic relationship, and your leaders and I today discussed ways we can develop that relationship further. We are going to work on a vision of a much more comprehensive strategic relationship. We want more partnerships to bring not just government leaders together, but business and professional and academic and political and people-to-people. We want to work with Korea so that both of us will be leaders in getting at the root causes of global climate change and vigorously pursuing a clean energy agenda. And I applaud your country for being a global leader in this area, and for calling on the ingenuity and skills of the Korean people to promote green technologies that will create jobs and protect our planet and enhance our security.

Students here at Ewha have a long and proud tradition of engagement with the world. And you have the talent and the training to help shape that world. It may not be always obvious what you can do to make a difference, so do what you love. Do what gives you meaning. Do what makes life purposeful for you. And make a contribution.

I don’t know that Mary Scranton, who founded this university teaching one student in her home, could have ever dreamed of where we would be today. But that’s often the way life is. I never could have dreamed that I could be here as the Secretary of State of the United States either. (Applause.) You have to be willing to prepare yourselves and as you are doing to take advantage of the opportunities that arise, to find cooperative ways to work with others to promote the common good, and then follow your dreams. You may not end up exactly where you started out heading toward, but with your education and with the opportunities now available in your country, there is so much that you can do. And I know that you will be well-equipped to make your contribution that will contribute to the peace and prosperity and progress and security, not only of Korea, but of the region and the world that needs and is waiting for your talents.
Thank you all and God bless you. (Applause.)
And now we’re going to have some questions, I think, right? (Laughter.)

[Secretary Clinton’s meeting continued]

Beyond politics: learning from Hillary Rodham Clinton

(crossposted from Heidi Li’s Potpourri)

Yes, I would feel better about the country and the world were Hillary Rodham Clinton about to be inaugurated our next President. Millions of primary voters shared my view. Meanwhile, I sincerely hope that President-elect Obama lives up to the highest hopes of his wisest supporters. Something larger even than the Presidency of the United States is at stake though, when one considers Hillary Rodham Clinton. What is at stake is the question of how to live a life.

I have learned from watching Senator Clinton pursue her career.  I have learned that she processes what might be a permanent setback for a different sort of person, and then looks at the options available to her, picks one, and puts her talent to work for her as she retrains her focus. Some of being able to do that is just having the temperament to keep on keeping on – but we can all work to be that kind of person. And we can look to Senator Clinton as an example of just what one person can accomplish when she does. Because I am a student of the Nixon years, I followed Senator Clinton’s career before she moved to Washington D.C. I knew of her post-law school involvement in the effort to prosecute Richard Nixon. I know that whatever Senator Clinton expected of herself or foresaw when she addressed her classmates at Wellesley or when she graduated from Yale Law School, most of what has happened in her life and career could not have been within her scope of vision at those junctures. Moving to Arkansas? Improving the schools for millions of Arkansans children?  Moving into the White House? Putting the idea of universal health care at the heart of public, political discourse? Addressing personal difficulties in the glare of the harshest public spotlight? Becoming a U.S. Senator? Winning more votes in a primary season than any other Democratic Presidential contender, yet having to deal with a party power structure that refused to even permit an open and honest convention roll call vote? Campaigning in the general election harder for a rival than any other politician has ever done? Choosing to give up the relative safety of her Senate seat to accept, if confirmed, the position of Secretary of State in that rival’s administration?

Most people’s lives turn out to include twists and turns that they could not have foreseen in their early twenties. But most people’s lives are not, for better or worse, lived out as publicly as Senator Clinton’s has been. And because her life has been so public it is easy to focus on a particular triumph or a particular setback. Today, as I listened to the confirmation hearings regarding the Secretary of State appointment, I realized that Senator Clinton’s life is one that supersedes politics. Whether you agree with her political positions or you do not, you can observe her powers of concentration, her tenacity, her buoyancy, her steadiness. These excellences see a person through the unforeseen circumstances, bad or good. Because Senator Clinton is public servant, we, her countrywomen and countrymen, will derive instrumental benefits from her competence. More importantly, though, because Senator Clinton is a public figure, we, her fellow members of humanity, can look to her life and the dignity and wisdom with which she conducts it. From Hillary Rodham Clinton, we can learn how to tackle the unforeseen in our own lives. That is a legacy that transcends politics. It is the legacy of true leader.

A final rant from an eternal Clinton supporter

I like to think that I have led my life with distinction. I was raised by a single mother with little help. We were even on public assistance for a time. I have excelled in school since the very first day and now stand to graduate an esteemed high school with the rank of Salutatorian. I have friends of every race, every religion—and lack thereof, every political ideology, and sexual orientation. Even for love of a few stale jokes, you couldn’t truly believe that I hated someone because they were different from me. I wouldn’t and I can’t. Before this Democratic Primary, I’d never had the honor and the pleasure of being called a racist, a crybaby, or anyone’s psycho ex-girlfriend a la Glenn Close out of “Fatal Attraction.” It’s been a season of firsts.

I turned 18 in November. My first thought? Oh God, I have to vote.I hadn’t listened to the pundits, I didn’t even know who was running. Some Hispanic guy, some black guy, and the former First Lady of the United States; oh, and some other white guys. The only one I recognized was Edwards and my heart did an awful large thump for what could’ve been in 2004. (I hadn’t forgiven John Kerry for conceding Ohio, I still haven’t and he’s invoked my ire ever since.) Yet, it wasn’t John Edwards and his invincible haircut that caught my attention; it was the woman I had never noticed and the history I’d never cared about.

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