Do You Like Hillary?
Does it Matter?
You know how Jews can get away with cracking jokes that non-Jews can’t, blacks can say things whites can’t, and octogenarians can diss other senior citizens? (Okay. Eighty-year-olds wouldn’t use the word diss.) Well, as a woman, I’m about to pull out my broad brush (rim shot), and start painting a double-XX scenario. As in chromosomes. Sheesh.
I think that many of us — women, that is — feel the need to be liked. We may even curtail doing something for the greater good simply because we fear the consequences of being viewed as brassy, pushy, or just plain unfeminine. Famous pop-cultural example: in 1979, when actress Sally Field won the Oscar for her excellent portrayal of union organizer Norma Rae in the eponymous film, among Field’s first words as she held the golden Ken doll-like statue were, “…you like me right now; you like me!” I’ve since read she intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but that’s not how a lot of folks took it.
The point: perhaps that’s a key issue many people have with Hillary Rodham Clinton — men and women. She doesn’t seem to have the need to be liked.
It Took a Village — A Lost One
In 1996, Hillary Clinton published her first book, one she referenced as she accepted the nomination as president by her party 20 years later at her historic speech during the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC). Her bestselling book, titled It Takes a Village, is about how all members of society have a role to play in raising children. Three years later, in 1999, my first book was published: The Lost Village of Central Park. Yeah. To much less fanfare. It’s a historical fiction chapter book about Seneca Village, a community comprised mostly of blacks and Irish immigrants. With over 300 people, three churches, and a school, it was nonetheless razed in the mid 1800s to make way for Central Park.
The commonality? The word village. Another coincidence? In the summer of 1999, the Clintons (Bill was then president) and the Killcoynes (holding no public office) were both on Nantucket. What I did hold, as I nearly always did, was my camera. The four of us — my husband, Stephen, and our two young sons — were just about to stroll into the Whaling Museum, when all of a sudden maroon velvet ropes attached to metal stands were placed in front of us, blocking our entrance. Black limousines quickly pulled up to the curb, and tall guys, curly listening devices attached to their ears, whooshed out of the limos, patrolling the now V-shaped area between the dark-glassed cars and the museum entrance. Then Steve and I remembered, “Oh, right; the Clintons are here.” And sure enough, within about 10 minutes, Hillary Clinton stepped out of a car, waved and smiled at the growing crowd, and slipped into the museum for what we learned was a private tour.
Sigh. What to do? Stand there and wait for her to leave, A, so that we might once again catch a glimpse of this political superstar, and B, for our initial intent: to go see the exhibits?
The other should-I-stay-or-should-I-go factor was that I had been in the Nantucket Cottage Hospital the night before, having had some severe gastrointestinal pains. I wasn’t at my best, especially if I had to stand for who knows how long. But stand we did.
When Clinton left, the murmuring crowd began shouting, and she immediately gravitated to the folks waiting across from us. Rats! She then headed toward the patiently purring limo. I was crestfallen. Happily, someone with a loud voice on our side of the cordon beckoned her. She turned, and came over. Then, in some way that I can’t quite recall, I asked if she would pose for a photo with me. She happily agreed. In a truly surreal moment, as we stood there, arms around each other’s shoulders, I foisted my camera onto Steve and sweetly hissed, “Photo, please!” Eyes wide at the vision before him, he obliged, snapping several for good measure. I was beyond thrilled. Ms. Clinton left my embrace and off she went.
In those pre-digital days, my camera was an Olympus OM-1, a really nice single-lens reflex (SLR). I even had an array of lenses. However, although I had already shot several rolls of film during our vacation, guess what I didn’t have in the camera the day that Hillary and I posed together? Right.
So a few days later, back home in New York City, Stephen jauntily took the other rolls as well as the camera downstairs to our then-local camera store. (The camera didn’t want to open, so we figured we’d leave it to the experts.) Oddly, only minutes later, I heard him trudging back up. (We lived at the top of a walk-up in Greenwich Village; still do.)
No film in the camera. Incredulity doesn’t begin to describe our feelings. So much for trying to contact Clinton with the photo and a letter about the whole “Venn Diagram village” thing.
I’m Still With Him; Kinda
Back to the present. I am a total Bernie Sanders supporter.
Talk about incredulity: I couldn’t believe that a Socialist Jew with that accent being that old was capturing the national psyche — especially the ardent support of people far younger than I. But I loved what he was saying, and that he had been saying the same thing for decades. I still love him, and the causes for which he has so steadfastly stood.
During primary season, deciding between Sanders and Clinton was an easy decision — one of the heart and the soul. Hillary had unparalleled experience, but it was Bernie who had my aforementioned heart and soul. That said, Hillary Rodham Clinton is now the Democratic nominee. Sanders gallantly ceded the role to her during the DNC roll call. And I will not squander my vote by abstaining.
What I wonder is, had there been film in the camera that sunny summer day in 1999, would I have felt more ambivalence during the primaries? Would I have liked her more? Am I that malleable? Is a picture worth a thousand words, all of them “Yes?”
What I realize is this: for better or worse — at least in the public arena — Hillary doesn’t seem to care if you like her or not. She does what needs to be done. What an admirable quality: to do what’s right because it’s right.
So I’m with her.
Wonder if she would like me… ; -)