Let me begin by stating that I have a bias in favor of Hillary Clinton. I believe in her as a person, a leader, a feminist, a politician, and as the woman I desperately wanted to call my President. It takes absolutely zero effort to entice me to watch a documentary (my favorite movie genre) about Hillary. Here are my thoughts on the docu-series on Hulu.
Hillary was born in Chicago, Illinois, and as a little girl, she didn’t grow up thinking she would be the president of the United States. Her childhood female influences did not work outside the home. Contrary to what many think of her, she wasn’t plotting world domination at an early age.
The film covers moments in her youth, from her world in the suburbs of Chicago and involvement in the Methodist church, to the Civil Rights movement. Her time at Wellesley, an all-girls college in Massachusetts is touched on, with friends, classmates, and teachers speaking about how social reform of the time was forming her political beliefs. Senator Edward Brookes was the graduation speaker. His speech essentially told the graduates to embrace their space and not get so worked up about everything, as much protest wasn’t really worth the effort or time. Hillary was chosen as the student speaker, and she went off script and addressed what he said. When you hear Hillary speaking in response to Senator Brookes, the voice of the woman I admire today is heard in the young graduate refuting the Senator who seemed to brush off the impact and importance of civil protest.
Hillary decided to go to law school and sat for the LSAT at Harvard. She was harassed by the male testers, admonishing her for being a female and having the audacity to dream of being a lawyer. She talks about the lack of reward that would have been given for showing emotion in a situation like this versus the world of today where people are constantly looking at your emotional response to any and all stimuli.
I relate to this, as I was raised by a family that believed if you fall and hurt yourself, you don’t cry, you wipe that part of yourself off and move along. Stiff upper lip. My parents were big proponents of phrases like, “never let them see you get upset, cry, etc…,” and I learned to react from a place of seeing myself through the eyes of others. That means you limit reaction when someone does something to you that you don’t appreciate, and you work harder to never be vulnerable to that attention again.
1969 Yale Law School
Hillary was one of 27 women law students at Yale. This is where she met Bill Clinton. There are personal photographs of their dating period, and President Clinton speaks about his first impressions of her. Bill had a Political and Civil Rights class with Hillary. Bill said, “She had a certain aura about her. “
The photos show a couple who are smitten with each other. That look of his love for her is pure and true and it sparkles in his eyes as he speaks of her today. Bill clearly loves Hillary and has been enamored with her since the first time he met her. “I just had this feeling that this is not going to be normal, and this could change your life.”
I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing President Clinton speak in person. There is an undeniable charisma about him that is easy to see and enjoy. It is also evident why women are so easily drawn to him. He checks most of the boxes – handsome, funny, intelligent, witty, and charming. He “sees” you when he speaks to you. You aren’t one in a crowd. YOU are his audience of one. Very few people truly have this skill, and he excels. When he spoke at Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), he was touring on behalf of the campaign for Hillary, and as he spoke about her, even about her political ideals, he spoke of her glowingly.
Hillary took a path all her own in law school. She was a feminist who was interested in women and children’s issues. She attributes her interest to her mother. Her mom never felt loved and left home at thirteen to work as a housekeeper. Hillary worked for Marian Wright Edelman, a civil rights activist and advocate for children.
Amy Chozick is featured in the film and speaks about the article she wrote about Hillary going undercover in Alabama to expose the illegal discrimination on the basis of race in private school academies that had been granted tax-exempt status.
Hillary and Bill graduated from Yale in June 1973. They traveled through Europe together and Bill proposed to her. Hillary requested more time, and Bill said he would wait. Bill knew he was going to return to Arkansas, and Hillary didn’t know in which direction her compass was set.
Upon returning home, she went to Washington, and in 1974, Watergate was the topic of the hour. Hillary worked on the Impeachment Committee. She worked on the memo for the grounds of impeachment, defining what high crimes and misdemeanors meant. Clinton encouraged Hillary to return to Illinois and run for office. She did not believe anyone would vote for a “pushy” woman like her.
Hillary followed her heart to Bill and the University of Arkansas School of Law offered her a job.
Bill and Hillary were once on a walk, and Hillary commented that she thought a house was cute. Bill bought and furnished it and said she had to marry him since they now how this adult commitment. She accepted his proposal and they wed.
Within a year, Bill was elected Attorney General and they moved to Little Rock. Hillary went to work for the Rose Law Firm with the distinction of being the first female lawyer at the firm. She would ultimately become partner of the firm.
Bill Clinton served as Attorney General for two years and quickly moved on to become the Governor of Arkansas at the fresh age of 32. Hillary was the First Lady of Arkansas and she raised eyebrows, as she remained a working lawyer and the public also didn’t appreciate that she had kept her maiden name.
This was the beginning of her being picked apart. She was attacked for her hair, her name, her clothes, and her lack of children, just to name a few. I’m sickened by how similar the attacks are on her today in 2020.
In 1980, Chelsea was now part of the family, but Bill lost his reelection campaign. Feeling responsibility for his loss, Hillary took his name. She had a complete makeover. Clothes, hair, and contact lenses. Her transformation worked. Bill became Governor again in 1982, and he appointed Hillary in charge of reforming the public education system.
Can’t forget the emails…
The emails. Why aren’t we over the fact that her private emails were not on the government server when she was Secretary of State? She decided to use the server that had been set up for Bill, there was no regulation against it, and everyone knew it was operational because she responded to their emails from her personal email. What she did was not illegal. Colin Powell used a private email account and previous Secretaries of State did the same thing. She thought this story would go away quickly. We all know how much this didn’t go away. Classified information ended up on the server, and the FBI investigated it. It was determined that there was no deliberate mishandling of information. She was being accused of making her own rules. She admits that she was irritated by this questioning and feels she didn’t successfully handle it. She spoke with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC and Mitchell pressed for an apology from Hillary. She didn’t supply one and that took over the news. She apologized in an interview with David Neal on ABC News. She gave the people what they wanted, but that didn’t make them happy. The emails are still brought up and probably will be until the end of time.
This first episode briefly touches on Sanders. She is heckled by protestors at one of her campaign rallies. As they are escorted out of the building, she declares, “You may not be supporting me, but I’m supporting you.” Yeah, I thought, she really doesn’t give up on doing the best for all of us, even her loudest detractors.
The vitriol coming from the Bernie supporters in 2016 is evident in the presidential race today. Hillary was painted as a centrist, a corporatist, and an old-school democrat who doesn’t care about the little guy. Sound familiar? They are attacking Vice President Joe Biden with the same words as he competes with Bernie Sanders to be the Democratic Presidential Nominee in 2020.
The movie praises Bernie as a powerful messenger. I agree that he is, for he likes to speak in sound bites (Free Tuition For All), and defer his plans for such programs until a later date. Hillary, on the other hand, gets ground to stone for stating the truth and never promising unattainable goals. She was encouraged to get on the “free public education for all” train, but she does not believe it is attainable. It is more difficult to turn, “I believe in affordable, debt-free education with the ability to refinance your current school loan debt” into a rousing chant.
Ironic that we live in a world where so much information is available at our very fingertips and many people still desire ignorance. Hillary didn’t ask you to blindly follow her. She outlined and talked about her plans at every opportunity afforded her. You can’t make the unwilling listen, but the media and her dissenters characterized her as unable to get her message across to the public.
The film is sprinkled with shared moments with her staff as she travels the country for her campaign, reminding me of what we lost. These snapshots of time on her campaign trail reveal a funny, tired, resolute, strong, and devoted human. They reveal her humanity. There is a scene where she is greeting small business owners and she asks one of her staff if they have some money because she doesn’t have her purse. As a woman who often leaves her purse behind when doing things where a purse has no place, I’ve said that very sentence. These are the relatable moments that her detractors claim are non-existent. They would rather view her as cold and calculating in a prolonged effort to dehumanize her. Hillary admits she provokes strong opinions, both positive and negative.
Clips of her campaign to be the 45th President of the United States stir mixed emotions for me. I miss those days, and I miss the version of me who once believed that our nation would embrace a strong, female leader. Ultimately, I’m left in agreement with the summation made early in the film. Hillary is “one of the most admired and most vilified women in American history,” says Jake Sullivan, Senior Policy Advisor for the Clinton campaign.
On to Episode Two: Becoming A Lady