Monday, May 01, 2006

Hillary

I picked up Hillary Clinton's book, "Living History," at a garage sale on Saturday, Bush. I have to admit I probably wouldn't have done if they weren't in the process of closing up and wanted to give the unsold items away free. So I walked away with the Hillary book and another hardback about Roosevelt and Churchill. I do like hardbacks. So much more satisfying to hold and read. But I have to say I rarely buy them. I guess because I'm a bit on the cheap side, Bush.

But anyway, I walked away with these two hardbacks and cracked Hillary's book at the moment where Bill wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her he has been lying in his teeth about the Monica Lewinsky story. A huge betrayal. He's pacing like a panther and repeating over and over again how sorry he is and how he only lied to protect his wife and daughter. And Hillary is understandably flabbergasted and enraged and desperately hurt. I remember having read reviews of the book a couple of years ago, when it came out, suggesting that she hadn't squarely faced the issue of her husband's infidelity and his feckless protests and denials ("I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky...") I disagree. I was rather moved by her account, and by the subsequent slow process of healing and forgiveness--a process still left incomplete at the book's end and, I suspect, until today.

Having started this particular passage, I got hooked. The writing was good, the story compelling, and I read straight through to the end. Then I put the book down for a while but was interested enough, by then, to pick it up again yesterday afternoon and begin at the beginning. I was frankly not prepared to be as impressed with Hillary as I was, and am. I've passed the point where she met Bill at Yale and the start of their relationship, and I find that I really like her and admire her far more than I thought I would. I like her ability to explore her own childhood and her relationships with family and friends with emotional honesty but without being coy or sentimental. She respects the humanity of those around her--and her own--with a critical but caring eye.

I also have to admire what her enemies--and there are many of them, I know--see to be her ambition. Her strong Methodist background leaves her with a powerful moral and social conscience which she works tirelessly to serve. I had not realized, Bush, that she was such a staunch Republican in her young days, and that her early political dedications were to Goldwater and Rockefeller. I have been impressed to watch her transition, her sympathy for the conservative point of view, her sense that she had not so much left the Republican Party, but that it had left her, veering off to the right and losing the "compassionate" center that cared about the less privileged members of our society.

I like, too, the story of her early relationship with Bill, the picture of a young couple truly dedicated to their urgent sense of the need to do good things with their lives. All in all, I'm enjoying her book immensely, and finding her a full and sympathetic human being. I had been hoping that she wouldn't run for the presidency, Bush, thinking that she would be too divisive and that too many people are predisposed to hate her--for mostly irrational reasons beyond her control. I think now that I was mistaken. I hope she does run. There have been times I've been disappointed in what has seemed to me an overeagerness to compromise in her work as senator, for what I can only suppose to be political reasons. Even so, I hope she finds the opportunity to allow Americans to get to know her better, and to respect the humanity that she seems genuinely to embrace.

2 comments:

David said...

I guess I've been in L.A. too long. I'm hoping Warren Beatty runs.

PK said...

There are a lot of true Republicans out there, very few, but a few. If you can get McCain away from Bush long enough, he too is a true Republican. Most have come over to the Dem's side because of Bush. 3/4 of my family is now Dem., they used to be Rep.. The Republicans used to stand for everything the Dem's stand for now. The Republicans would fight for the last square inch of the wilderness, not any more. They would fight for a whole lot... that now, well...it's gone. Bush is taking it away, day by day. He's classified Republican. I, however, have a different class to put him in, but because I'd like to keep posting comments here, will refrain from doing... Maybe Hill will run, be nice if she would. I do trust her...