They’ve mellowed on Hillary

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 24, 2012

I love to watch, study and talk about politics, but I try not to engage in political conversation with most of my family members. My views tend to be center to center-left. Center-right is as close as any of them get to agreeing with me on most topics.

Every now and then, I slip. Like last summer at a birthday party, when someone made the statement that “If Obama gets elected, it’ll be the end of us.” Before I even realized what I was doing, the journalist in me was challenging the statement. Before I got to the end of the question, I realized that both of my brothers were holding their breath in anticipation of what I might say next, so I reined myself in, listened to the answer, and changed the subject.

A similar conversation happened on Thanksgiving. This time, the president was declared “a Muslim, a socialist and a communist,” among other things. Oh, the things they are certain he is going to do, solo.

Quite amused, I quizzed them a bit. “What about Congress? He can’t operate unilaterally without them.”

“Yes, he can,” they assured me, adding that it is the fault of his wife that Twinkies is in bankruptcy. Really.

They turned to each other and sort of shook their heads. Still amused, I thought I’d go for a reaction.

“You know, I really like Hillary,” I said.

I was speaking, of course, of the former First Lady. I remember a time when both of the people in the conversation were certain she was friendly with the anti-Christ.

Surprise of all political surprises, they agreed with me. They think she’s smart and they’d rather have her than Obama for a president. One thinks she’ll run in 2016.

It got me to thinking about the early 90s, when the right constantly vilified the then-First Lady. I can’t help but wonder if people have mellowed on Hillary because they got used to her, because they admire her work, or if they are just less scared of her than Obama.

Mrs. Clinton, who is 65, has been on the world stage for more than two decades, first as First Lady and advisor-in-chief to Bill Clinton. Then she was an effective U.S. senator from New York; ran unsuccessfully for president in 2008, and is now completing four years in the exhausting job of secretary of state.

As much as I like her, I sometimes find myself talking to her when I see her on the national news.

“Hillary,” I say, “why don’t you fix your hair?”

Just this week, she was in Asia with the president when she was dispatched to the Middle East to help negotiate a cease fire. Recovering from the travel alone – not to mention the stress of the negotiations – would sideline most of us for a few days. Having a stylish do was probably the least of her worries.

She has announced that she will step down as secretary of state in early 2013. Lord knows she deserves a break, but already there is a movement to get her to run for president again in 2016.

If Thursday’s reaction is any indication, she might make it this time.