The media spent the last week talking about Hillary Clinton’s historic achievement: She’s the first female nominee for president of a major party. As she clinched enough delegates to make her the presumptive nominee, media outlet after media outlet trumpeted this news as incredibly important.
President Obama said of her, “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.” No one believes this to be true, and nobody believes Obama believes it to be true, but it became the talking point du jour.
My colleague David Harsanyi skeptically asked, “has anyone ever asked hillary if she believes she would be in this position without her husband? b/c many other women are more qualified.”
In response, reporter Erica Grieder said, “Head’s up, conservatives: This would not be a good line of argument even if the @GOP nominee was not Trump.”
Indeed! This is a horrible line of argument for Hillary critics to make.
That’s not because it plays into the media’s favorite partisan game of portraying Republicans as sexist for having different ideas about the role of government than the Left does. No, it’s a horrible line of argument because there’s nothing wrong with being in a good position because of one’s husband!
Listen, everyone knows Hillary is a contender for president because of whom she has remained married to. A friend wrote on Facebook on the occasion of Hillary’s win in California, “America’s choice, apparently finalized this evening: a man prominent only because his father earned wealth, and a woman prominent only because her husband earned power. And they say the patriarchy is dead.”
I wouldn’t say “only” in either case, but marriage is one of the best means by which women and men can improve their lot in life. My husband doesn’t just put up with me (for which he deserves major awards) and provide physical safety and sustenance for the children and me. He also taught me how to write and has encouraged me in my career every step of the way. He counsels me daily, and I run story ideas and their execution by him constantly. I’d be nothing without him. I’m sure he’d say I’m helpful to him as well.
Feminists used to shout, “Behind every great man there’s a great woman!” It’s true — much of the time, at least.
You might remember Annie Lenox and Aretha Franklin talking about that line. Here, let’s watch a video from the 1980s:
The first verse is:
Now, there was a time,
when they used to say,
that behind ev’ry great man,
there had to be a great woman.
But oh, in these times of change,
you know that it’s no longer true.
So we’re comin’ out of the kitchen,
’cause there’s something we forgot to say to you.
We say, Sisters are doin’ it for themselves
Certainly Hillary is a product of a time when women didn’t need to stay in the shadows. But whatever you want to say about “Sisters doin’ it for themselves,” nobody would say that Hillary got to the top without the aid of her husband. He gave her tasks while he was governor of Arkansas and president of the United States. Hillarycare, anyone? She stood by her husband — not in a Tammy Wynette way, mind you — through every infidelity, many of which the country got to hear about via sexual harassment claims and lawsuits. She ran for Senate from New York (a state she’d never lived in) from her prominent perch as Bill Clinton’s “First Lady.”
From there she leveraged a failed presidential nomination run into a cabinet position with Obama. This is not the story of a pathbreaking historical figure who worked hard, achieved unquestionable success in a field, and held her head high. This is someone who rose to prominence thanks to a charismatic man who treated her poorly for decades. She endured that abuse and, through the marriage, achieved great power.
Every marriage is a conspiracy, and the Clinton’s fits that definition well. Who can explain the magic there? But whatever their troubles, they have sought and achieved power together for decades. They have built a hugely successful foundation (in terms of fundraising, if not in effect). They have used their ties to government to go from “dead broke” to unimaginable wealth. And they’ve done it together. They are two for the price of one, as the former president used to say.
So let’s stop criticizing Hillary for getting to the top thanks to her marriage. Many people are only in their positions in life because they married people who helped them develop personally and professionally. Instead, conservatives should be glad that Hillary is really showing just how powerful an institution marriage truly is.