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Hooray for Hillary: Commander-in-Chief

AMERICA, EVERYTHING JUST CONFIRMS THAT WE SHOULD VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON AS ONE OF THE MOST QUALIFIED PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. Lawyer, Mother, Grandmother,  First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, First Female U.S. Senator from New York, Secretary of State: her qualifications for the job are formidable and unprecedented. She has seen the Oval Office from a vantage point that gives her primary executive experience. Her service in the legislative branch was hailed as exemplary because she reached across the aisle for bipartisan solutions for the good of the country. Her depth of knowledge about policy, international and domestic affairs is second to none. As Secretary of State, she established contact with rulers in 112 countries, setting an example for diplomacy. Regardless of one's views about her, what she has achieved during this election season has been utterly historic. She has become the first woman to be nominated for President by a major political party in the United States and set the bar for future presidential aspirations. (And she did it even though her own mother was born before women had the right to vote.) Don't take your eye off the ball with all the noisy distractions, she is the only candidate who has served the people in various capacities her entire life. And she has done it capably and of her own volition. 

UPDATE: People have written to ask me why I didn't address more of the negatives of Secretary Clinton's candidacy, and so I will: 

What they mean is why didn't I write about her emails, Benghazi and whether she is truthful. First and foremost, the positive things I wrote about her in this article are things I firmly believe. I am for Hillary Clinton as President because that is where I see hope for our future. She is competent and knows how to get things done, and moreover, she leads from a positive viewpoint. Her opponent says we need to make American great again, but he seems to advocate doing this with a scorched earth isolationist policy.  

She says America is great and that we will be stronger together. She outlines a vision for more jobs for the middle class, including a rebuilding of our infrastructure with a gradual and enlightened transition to renewable energy; she has an an understanding of the economic system that allows for robust capitalism but not at the expense of ordinary people. She outlines affordable healthcare and education for our children, an educated trade policy that also takes into consideration strengthening security with our allies; a compassionate viewpoint on resolving complicated domestic issues like racial profiling, police relations, unequal criminal justice sentences and high levels of youth unemployment in urban areas. She has a savvy plan for working not only with our military to combat terrorism, but with think tanks and international allies to understand and address the root causes of it. In other words, she wants to maintain America's leadership role in the world with policies that are just and fair, and she wants to be the President of all the people. With so much of the media bandwidth being devoted to the loud negative distractions of the campaigns, we lose sight of some of these things and so I think they bear restating. 

It doesn't mean that I don't acknowledge some of Hillary's defensiveness that causes her to do things like using a private server for her emails, or appear "robotic" in her responses, as some have said. I acknowledge them and understand that they come from thirty years of constantly being under attack and publicly scrutinized and undermined by her opponents to an unprecedented degree. The attacks on her began from her first emergence as the First Lady of Arkansas when she wanted to use her birth name "Hillary Rodham," and was criticized for her hairdo and appearance. She was smart and independent and they just didn't know what to do with a woman like that. So she softened her image to fit the mold; she took on her husband's last name and changed her hairdo. But she was still whipsmart underneath and she refused to be silenced. 

When her husband's infidelities were revealed, she stood her ground. I don't know what she said to him privately, and I don't need to know. She was hurt and tried to process it in as dignified a manner as she could while under siege. For whatever reason, she made a decision to stay with him and keep her family together. That was good enough for me, and it should have been good enough for those Republicans who claimed to be "family values" proponents. Isn't it ironic that the ones who attacked her the most on this were-and-are the very ones who have had multiple affairs, multiple marriages, multiple failures with their families and who have taken multiple positions on issues that are anathema to compassion and the religious way of life. 

I am glad she acknowledged her share of responsibility as Secretary of State for the loss of lives in Benghazi. Her eleven hours of questioning before Congress revealed her pain over the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the other three who were killed at our consulate. Nevertheless, her testimony also made it clear that in the future we need for Congress to appropriate more money and to work together with the State Department as well as with our other security branches to ensure that our diplomats in dangerous parts of the world will be protected. And after our Congressional Benghazi committee spent over two years of investigations and over seven million dollars on what sometimes seemed like a partisan witch hunt rather than a sincere motive to drill down into the background of the consulate attack, there were no findings of wrongdoing on the part of Secretary Clinton. I only hope that those who did the investigations will take to heart the findings of how to better protect our diplomats and consulates in the future. 

I am also glad that she eventually apologized unequivocally for using a private server for her emails. There was some ambiguity about when the changes in the law took place, and what she could and could not do under the old and the new legislation. And yes, her defensiveness caused her to make decisions that were wrong. But at the end of the day there was no harm done, and did we really have to spend millions of dollars on it? An investigation is one thing, and is proper, but here again, what we were privy to seemed done more for political expediency to derail her campaign for the presidency. In addition, it has been pointed out that the disclosures by people like Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and what our security leaders believe to be Russian hackers at the very top are more damaging to our national security. And these attacks were made on secure servers. (Yes, there is an argument to be made for bringing to light some of the issues they highlighted, but aren't there better, safer, less damaging ways to do it?) 

And we have to ask what subtle or not so subtle role has misogyny played in the vitriol with which our first serious female candidate for president is being received. Just as we had to ask what subtle or not so subtle role racism played in the vitriol against President Obama's campaign, especially with respect to the birther issue of whether he was a natural born American. I will quote from film critic Jessica Ritchey, in her column about revisiting the film, "The War Room."  "Clinton's opponent is not just disrespectful of her, he's unqualified to face her. It's impossible for male friends of women, no matter how empathetic, to understand how demoralizing that is. They don't know what it's like to swim in misogynist bile for months and have it seep through your skin like some corrosive chemical, until you're no more than bone and ash, then keep going, because you know that if you talk about how tired you arehow much this experience hurts on levels you were not expectingyou will be dismissed as weak." Fortunately, Hillary is not weak. She is a strong and tough candidate, praised by her opponent for being persistent.  

At the last debate, it was both hilarious and pathetic when Clinton pointed out how Trump calls foul on every situation he thinks he will lose. The election is rigged (even though the voting isn't over until November 8), the media stories are rigged, even the Emmys were rigged because his TV show didn't win. Now imagine the shoe on the other foot and how blistering the attacks would have been if Clinton, a "girl"  were whining about rigged elections. 

But even more disgusting is the double standard a woman candidate is judged by. Ritchey continues, "The Republican nominee for President let his followers know he walked behind Hillary Clinton at the second debate and was not impressed....A stinging rebuke to every woman watching that no matter your smarts, your drive, your desire to do something big, you will be judged on whether or not you give your sharpest critics an erection." 


Running for president is not a mere hobby for Secretary Clinton. As she said in the first debate, not only was she preparing for the debate, but she also was preparing to be president. It seems as if her whole life was leading to this historic juncture. As a young girl raised in a politically conservative household in Park Ridge, Illinois, her mother's interest in social justice issues left an indelible mark on her. Those who knew her in the early years said she was the one who volunteered at Sunday School, who exhibited compassion for others, and whose leadership skills, even at that young age, were put toward the good of the community and not just for herself. When she wrote to NASA at age 14, asking what she had to do to become an astronaut, she was informed that women were not allowed to be in the program. But that didn't deter her. She had confidence in her abilities and put those efforts to work in other ways. In fact, she has a history of working for the betterment of society rather than for her own self-aggrandizement.  

That is the hope Hillary Rodham Clinton's legacy has embodied ever since she was enrolled as a political science major at Wellesley College where she organized programs to help children and families. And she is no Johnny-come-lately to issues of race and fairness. Though she served as president of the Wellesley Young Republicans during her freshman year, her political views were altered by the Vietnam War and civil rights movements that characterized the 60's. By the time she was a junior, she was serving as president of the Wellesley College Government Association, and organized a two-day student strike following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was around this time that some of her fellow students began to voice their beliefs that she could one day be elected President of the United States. And amazingly, in 1969, she was selected as the college's first-ever student to give a commencement speech. The president of the college described her as "cheerful, good humored, and good company." A portion of the speech is embedded below. Hillary spoke of communal trust and respect and said that she wanted to undertake the "art of making what appeared to be impossible, possible." "Fear is always with us," she continued, "but we don't have time for it." 

Every role Hillary took on, from being a colleague of Marian Edelman at the Children's Defense Fund to the present, has prepared her for a life of leadership in Washington, D.C. When she became the First Lady of our nation, no one mistook her for someone occupying an ornamental role. In fact, they were often impressed by her intelligence and the ease with which she could understand the issues and articulate solutions. Whether it was her role of attempting to reform the health care system or discussing the economy, her performance was so virtuoso that it caused legislators and journalists to wonder if they were watching the emergence of a president-in-training. 

And Secretary Clinton is not only smart, she is tough. She has the temperament, the stamina, and the emotional intelligence to withstand years of personal and political attacks on her, and still comes back ready to focus on the issues at hand. She has not crumbled, and God knows we would have understood if she had. But she has her goals firmly in place. And yet, there are still many Americans who balk at the notion of having a woman elected to our highest office. One only has to look at last night's presidential debate for sufficient proof of who would be the better candidate to be in control of the proverbial red button. Secretary Clinton calmly but firmly debated issues with real knowledge and facts, remaining cool and collected. She laughed off nonsensical attacks with the confidence and civility of a true leader. Even as she was interrupted a staggering number of times, she came out the clear winner by embodying a stark contrast to her opponent. And she did it with a hint of a shimmy thrown in for good effect.

And I think I know why some people seek to demean her image. That is because she has the countenance of the adult-in-the-room. She is the one who knows the answers, who probably raised her hands in class before anyone else. Not because she wanted to show off, but because she was prepared. All I can say is I met with her on many occasions some time ago when I was working with the Women's Leadership Forum, and I found her to be warm and caring with a great sense of humor. On television she may not have the charisma of President Obama or her husband Bill, or the showmanship of Donald Trump, but there is no one who could accuse her of not being prepared or not caring for people. And the example she would set for girls and women AND boys and men all across the globe, should not be minimized, just as the election of our first African-American president represented a sea change. It is not insignificant that she will be the first President to wear heels and red lipstick, and who has given birth to another human being.    

I make no secret of the fact that I am voting for Hillary in the upcoming election. Based on her lifelong adherence to her concern for the rights of others, including her concern for people of color and the middle class, her rootedness in her faith, and her intelligence and political savvy to reach across the aisle to get things done; her understanding of climate change and how it affects our economy and our lives globally, the fact that we have seen her tax returns and know there is transparency, and her advocacy for children and families, I trust her. She understands the meticulousness of our governmental systems better than many of her male colleagues. I have no doubt that once she attends to her tasks as President of the United States, she will actually be able to get things done. Not as a schoolyard bully, but as a seasoned politician who won't let any obstacle get in the way of her fighting for the American people. 

In a moving letter written to Secretary Clinton earlier this year, an Illinois mother, Heather Henderson said, "My hope is that my daughter will not have to dream of being the first anything, because that road will have already been paved by strong women like you." 

This is an updated version of the originally published essay, following the third and final presidential debate.
Chaz Ebert

Chaz is the CEO of several Ebert enterprises, including the President of The Ebert Company Ltd, and of Ebert Digital LLC, Publisher of, President of Ebert Productions and Chairman of the Board of The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, and Co-Founder and Producer of Ebertfest, the film festival now in its 24th year.

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