Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is no mystery

This year’s presidential campaign renews the media’s never-ending quest for the supposedly elusive Hillary Clinton.

Time magazine published a cover story titled “In Search of Hillary.” Pundits are debating: “Who is the real Hillary Clinton?” Op-eds opine on her inscrutable motives.

“Hillary haters” are the only ones who seem to understand her clearly. To them, she is evil incarnate. Ben Carson connected her to Lucifer in his speech at the GOP convention. Chris Christie’s litany of her alleged crimes drew screams of “Guilty!” and “Lock her up!” from enraged delegates.

Deranged mobs of partisans are not the best source for a character reference. Many future volumes will be written on the dynamics of this organized Hillary-hatred.

Probing the life and character of someone running for president is essential. I just find silly the constant refrain that Hillary Clinton, after four decades of an exhaustively documented public and private life, continues to be a woman of mystery.

I don’t claim to understand everything about Clinton, but she’s hardly an enigma. Continually depicting her as unknowable imputes a furtive, even sinister nature that is unfair.

Like everyone, she’s complicated. That includes her business affairs and her family life. Like most politicians, she’s ambitious. She’s done some thoughtless and calculating things but she also has shown leadership, collegiality and pragmatism.

When she was first lady, the GOP rejected a big health care proposal she championed. Clinton later helped forge a more modest proposal that gave matching federal funds to states to insure poor kids. That program was adopted by Congress and continues to insure thousands of children.

As a U.S. senator, Clinton voted to authorize the war in Iraq. She is hawkish about exercising American power abroad. Yet, her diplomatic skills as secretary of state did much to repair the damage in foreign relations caused by our invasion of Iraq.

She’s definitely told some whoppers. My jaw dropped when she claimed in her final debate with Bernie Sanders that she had “always” supported the $15 minimum wage.

When Clinton served in the Senate, Republicans were impressed by her cordiality and willingness to work across the aisle. As president, she is likely to appoint some Republicans to her cabinet as a gesture toward bipartisan cooperation.

Clinton’s strong stand on women’s rights nationally and internationally has led to legal reforms, educational advancement for girls and increased investment in women’s businesses.

Close friends say Clinton’s commitment to public service is sustained by her deeply held Methodist faith. Efforts to demonize her are themselves demonic.

Hillary Clinton has never dwelt in some dark, unknowable void. She has been speaking out publicly, absorbing criticism and pressing forward for decades.

She ought to be judged on her long record of public service, warts and all, not on some myth about her intrinsic mystery.

Or as her husband said in his speech to the Democratic Convention, vote for “the real Hillary.”

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