The Many Faces of Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton: supportive wife, protective mother, astute corporate attorney, devout social activist and dynamic woman. Or, if you prefer, she is also known as the Nazi first lady, Bill Clinton’s shadow chief of staff, overambitious politician, psycho-feminist, democratic heretic and, more commonly, (insert your personal favorite here).

Whatever name Hillary Rodham Clinton has made for herself, whether it be one of praise or one of spite, it is one that is synonymous with resiliency, compassion and ability.

When Clinton belts out an intention, whether it is “”I’m going to run for Senate,”” or “”I’m going out for a run,”” she leaves the president, fellow Democrats and opposing Republicans alike shivering in their Bruno Magli loafers, nervous to their wits’ ends in anticipation of the explosion of ideas that usually result from her actions.

Sure, the Clinton we all know is the Clinton who wanted to serve as her husband’s attorney general, the Clinton whose health care initiative failed, the Clinton whose hairdo never seems to quite fit and, finally, the Clinton whose sole purpose as first lady is to be a leech on the neck of her husband in hopes of furthering her own political ambitions. All this is wrong. Beneath her exterior, there is a kinder, gentler Clinton.

It seems that all we can think about is Clinton’s failed programs, broken marriage and rocky road to Capitol Hill.

What stays hidden is the interior of a woman who transformed the traditional role of first lady. For the first time since Eleanor Roosevelt, the first lady did not exist mainly to enhance her husband’s political career; she had an agenda of her own. Clinton is the first first lady to have her own office in the West Wing.

From her days with the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas to her days at the White House, Clinton has always been a part of vital legislation. Her drive for educational reform has been one of her biggest works in progress and has made a world of difference in school districts across the country.

She has played vital roles in improving access to child care, modernizing adoption processes, fighting for international human rights, attending to Gulf War Syndrome and raising awareness of breast and cervical cancers, just to name a few. Above all this, she has managed to remind America that our children are not “”rugged individualists”” and that “”it takes a village to raise a child.””

Clinton helped establish the Violence Against Women Act and, from her new position in the Senate, she hopes to do wonders for New York’s taxes, environment and education.

It is a mystery to me how critics can base their opinions about such a hard-working woman on scandals and events beyond her control. For instance, because of the Whitewater scandal, Clinton is seen as dishonest, self-centered and controlling. But if asked today, most Americans would not even remember what the scandal was called or what it was about.

What about the Lewinsky incident, you ask? Do you know anyone else who would forgive her husband for cheating on her, prompting every journalist in the country to vie for her “”feelings”” on the affair? For that, she should receive the Woman of the Century Award.

It seems that Clinton is a strong, outspoken and determined woman who lacks the finesse and demure qualities that we have come to expect from a first lady. Many men and Republicans are threatened by her attitude and actions.

Her cutthroat political ability and rhetoric leave many to conclude that she is controlling, power hungry and difficult. That’s a new one. Politicians who are controlling, power hungry and difficult? Please, give the woman a break.

When you ask Clinton-haters why they despise her, you will get many different answers. Some will say that her policies and ideas have failed. Some will respond with simplistic adjectives, saying she is cold, mean, bossy or selfish. Some will just say that she is a bitch and that they have no other justification.

Even if some of her ideas have failed, why should she be considered useless? How can a woman who fights for human and women’s rights worldwide be seen as cold? Does Hillary’s use of her position to voice her ideas qualify her as a bitch? If all these qualities were pinned on someone else other than the first lady, would there be such an explosion of criticism? Probably not.

Clinton has graced the covers of nearly a dozen magazines, been at the top of many Most Valuable Politician and Most Influential Women lists and has assisted in many successful democratic campaign victories.

Clinton is a team player, a diligent and compassionate worker, a woman of substance, and a person who has always commanded a lot of respect and attention. Though these attributes have made her one of the most loathed women in politics, they are the very things that will make her great.

Bill Clinton’s term is ending, but Hillary Clinton is not ready to fade away. One must look at what she has to offer despite her shortcomings. Where else can we find a woman who has supported and defended a husband who has strayed more than once, endured eight years of media criticism, worked on countless legislation reforms, and simultaneously been a mother and run for senator, winning with a smile?

Coming to the Senate in the 107th Congress, Clinton will be in the company of 12 other women who will surely change Capitol Hill as we know it.

Clinton, as one of the most vocal senators in Congress, will definitely give attention to legislation that would otherwise not have been acknowledged.

She is familiar with struggle, controversy and hard — sometimes futile — work. Clinton will be one of the grandest additions to government simply because of her resilient character. Although she will be reminded that she is not a popular figure, and many will argue about her ability to perform, one thing is certain: When the next first lady or female senator or the first woman president storms D.C., she will have Clinton to thank for paving the way.

Whatever your opinions on this lady may be, it is advisable to see beyond her rough demeanor and image and actually look at what she represents. You may discover she is not so bad after all. You may even like her.