The Woman in the Pants Suit

By Bobbie Kirkhart

Hillary Clin­ton is a strong, prag­mat­ic politi­cian. Mod­er­ate­ly hawk­ish, she cast a mean­ing­less vote to sup­port the Iraq War, which she now regrets—though she still pro­claims her sup­port of the war in Afghanistan.

Hillary of the Many-Colored Pantsuit
Hillary and her ubiq­ui­tous pants suit

Indeed, her pub­lic persona—her tone of voice, her pos­ture, the ever-present pants suit—gives the appear­ance of con­fi­dence and com­mand. She has always been assertive, many say to a point of pre­sump­tion. She start­ed run­ning for the Sen­ate when she was still our First Lady. No oth­er president’s wife has vied for pub­lic office. From the time she became the first woman full part­ner of Arkansas’s most pres­ti­gious law firm to her stint as a Sec­re­tary of State who advo­cat­ed “smart pow­er,” she has built a résumé that could only hap­pen with excep­tion­al abil­i­ty and dri­ving ambition.

She opened her 2008 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign bold­ly, declar­ing: “I’m in it to win it.” She did not talk much about her work for the pow­er­less with­in our nation, and there was a lot to talk about, begin­ning with her post law-school days when she stud­ied chil­dren and med­i­cine at the Yale Child Study Cen­ter. She also didn’t men­tion that when she was list­ed among the 100 top lawyers in Amer­i­ca, she did pro bono work in child advocacy.

Hillary Children Books
Read Across Amer­i­ca Day: First Lady Hillary Clin­ton and Con­gress­man Ste­ny Hoyer

We saw lit­tle ref­er­ence to her respect­ed schol­ar­ly arti­cles on children’s rights, and she rarely men­tioned her first book, It Takes a Vil­lage: And Oth­er Lessons Chil­dren Teach Us. She tout­ed her expe­ri­ence on the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee more than on the Spe­cial Com­mit­tee on Aging.

The pun­dits note that she’s now talk­ing about domes­tic issues, where she cham­pi­ons the rights and needs of the weak: women, chil­dren, immi­grants, minori­ties, the poor. She brags about being a grand­moth­er and jokes about dye­ing her hair. “She’s run­ning as a woman this time,” they remark with amazement.


Hillary has a very good chance of becom­ing our next pres­i­dent, and the mavens of polit­i­cal prog­nos­ti­ca­tion ask, “If she’s elect­ed, which Hillary Clin­ton will we get?” It should be obvi­ous. She’s nev­er done any­thing half way. We’ll get all of her: tough, slight­ly bel­li­cose, and compassionate.

If you’re inter­est­ed on Hillary’s take on a vari­ety of issues, click here.

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Bob­bie Kirkhart is vice pres­i­dent of the Athe­ist Alliance of Amer­i­ca and serves on the board of Camp Quest, Inc., a sum­mer camp for chil­dren of free­think­ing fam­i­lies. She is a past pres­i­dent of the Athe­ist Alliance Inter­na­tion­al as well as a fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to U.S. freethought publications.