Hillary’s coattail career and her glass-ceiling myths
Hillary Clinton’s expected presidential run is being hailed as a chance to shatter the glass ceiling. That’s nonsense. Hillary rose to power solely on her husband’s sleazy coattails. She’s not self-made. And it shows. The recent e-mail scandal is just the latest in a life-long pattern of entitlement and hubris — traits successful women know can torpedo a career.
Strangely, feminists ignore the damning facts about how Hillary got where she is. Recently, Hillary addressed 5,000 Silicon Valley businesswomen — real career women. Vowing to “crack every last glass ceiling,” a hint at her White House ambitions, she urged them to demand equal pay and promotions. She invoked her own supposed early struggles to become the first female partner at the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas while a new mother.
But in truth, even then she was riding on Bill’s coattails. She got the law job in 1977 — surprise — just after he was sworn in as the state’s attorney general. Then, two years later when he was inaugurated as governor — bingo! — she was vaulted to partner. Hardly the struggle she now recalls. Though Hillary was called a trial lawyer, her former colleagues told The New York Times they can’t remember her ever trying a case.
Fast forward to 1993. Newly inaugurated President Bill Clinton announced a Task Force on National Health Care Reform and made his wife the chair. It was Hillary’s big moment.
With trademark naivete and arrogance, she insisted on keeping secret the names of 500 advisers, barred the public and the press from Task Force meetings and presented a Rube Goldberg revamp of the nation’s entire health system to Congress as a fait accompli before even getting its input. Within four months, a federal judge ruled the Clintons were violating federal open meeting laws, and The Wall Street Journal ridiculed her meetings as “an exercise in Soviet-style Kremlinology.“ Hillary’s M.O. was to vilify critics (including me) as “extremists.” Her mismanagement sabotaged the momentum to get health reform done, even in a Democratically controlled Congress, and set the cause back years.
Undeterred, Hillary spotted another chance to capitalize on her husband’s position in 2000, when a US Senate seat became vacant in New York. That Hillary had never lived here was a mere detail: The Clintons simply ignored objections of carpet-bagging and pushed aside any plausible contenders.
Hillary went on a “listening tour” of the state, and in her words, “62 counties, 16 months . . . and six black pantsuits later,” she was crowned New
York’s next senator. Chuck Schumer took pains to deny the obvious on election night, declaring “she won this election not because she was first lady, but because she worked hard.” Right.
Many women have been elected or appointed to Congress because of who their husbands were. But in 1980, Paula Hawkins was the first woman to win election to the US Senate with no spousal connection. She cracked a ceiling, not Hillary.
After an unremarkable term as New York’s senator and a failed presidential bid in 2008, Hillary took the consolation prize of secretary of state in 2009. Diplomatically, she failed to “reset” relations with Russia, blindsided Israel by endorsing a return to 1967 borders, allowed Iran to approach nuclear-weapons capability and denied Benghazi diplomats sufficient security. Administratively, Mrs. Clinton couldn’t run a gas station. A new inspector general’s report finds State Department employees “have not received adequate training or guidance” for maintaining official records and some employees destroyed records, fearing political repercussions.
Now Hillary is adamantly resisting scrutiny of her record. Accountability and judgment propel self-made women up the career ladder. She lacks both.
The contrast between Hillary and little-known Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana — who, speaking for the GOP, publicly demanded release of the Clinton server last week — is stunning. Brooks has broken many glass ceilings, as a
US attorney and a trial attorney in a major law firm. Whatever your politics, you can find women to support who have actually accomplished something on their own. Hillary’s not one of them.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York state. Her 1994 critique of the Clinton health-care plan in The New Republic won a National Magazine Award.