Chelsea Morning

Chelsea Clinton is a very fortunate young lady. “For many, Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s daughter is still a curly-haired 12-year-old with braces and a shy smile — the first “first kid” since Amy Carter to spend her formative years in the White House. Chelsea Clinton now is a 27-year-old single woman working in the financial sector in New York City.”

Chelsea’s mother and father are wonderful parents who are determined to protect her now as they have protected her all her life.

Former President Clinton recently said the family was determined to let Chelsea live as normally as possible for as much of the campaign.“She has got her own life to live. She works. She does her own range of other activities,” Clinton said in a CNN interview. “She cares a lot about politics and she wants her mom to win. But she has got a life to live and we don’t want to interrupt that.”To be sure, Chelsea Clinton has not been absent totally from her mother’s efforts. She recently joined her parents onstage at a campaign fundraiser in Manhattan, but did not address the audience. Hillary Clinton often describes how being a mom has shaped her candidacy.

Chelsea’s father is fond of saying that if you are walking along a road and see a turtle on top of a post the turtle did not get there by itself. The person Chelsea Clinton has become, like many young women today, did not get there by herself.

On this Mother’s Day it is fitting to relive a bit of history. The young women of today are not only a product of their parents, they are also a product of their “village”. Yes, it does take a village. In Chelsea’s case her mother helped shape not only Chelsea’s life but the lives of all of us, especially the lives of women young and old.

As imperfect as opportunities for all Americans currently are, and the distance left to travel until the goal of equality is reached, Hillary helped get us a bit closer to a more perfect union. 2007 America is not the America of Hillary when she was in her 20s.

As a young woman Hillary recalls a situation that probably has not changed as much as we like to believe, “In high school, one of my smartest girlfriends dropped out of the accelerated courses because her boyfriend wasn’t in them. Another didn’t want to have her grades posted because she knew she would get higher marks than the boy she was dating. These girls had picked up the subtle and not-so-subtle cultural signals urging them to conform to sexist stereotypes, to diminish their own accomplishments in order not to outperform the boys around them.” (page 20, hardcover Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton)

Accepted by both Harvard and Yale, Hillary had a decision to make. She visited Harvard by invitation and spoke with a famous law professor there. After the introduction Hillary had made up her mind. “This is Hillary Rodham. She’s trying to decide whether to come here next year or sign up with our closest competitor.” The great man gave me a cool, dismissive look and said, “Well, first of all, we don’t have any close competitors. Secondly, we don’t need any more women at Harvard.” (page 38, Living History)

“When I entered Yale Law School in the fall of 1969, I was one of twenty-seven women out of 235 students to matriculate. This seems like a paltry number now, but it was a breakthrough at the time and meant that women would no longer be token students at Yale.” (page 44, Living History)

Hillary was asked, due to her abilities, to participate in the impeachment investigation of President Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee. Hillary had already accomplished many other notable jobs before she was asked to join the investigation. When President Nixon resigned Hillary was again out of work. Her co-workers had plans for the future. “I was undecided, and when Bert Jenner asked me what I wanted to do, I said I wanted to be a trial lawyer, like him. He told me that would be impossible. “Why?” I asked. “Because you won’t have a wife.” “What on earth does that mean?” Bert explained that without a wife at home to take care of all my personal needs, I would never be able to manage the demands of everyday life, like making sure I had clean socks for court.” (page 69, Living History)

When Hillary worked at a legal aid clinic a criminal court judge, agreeing to the defendant’s request, appointed Hillary to represent a rapist and Hillary could not refuse. “When I appeared with my client before Judge Cummings to present the plea, he asked me to leave the courtroom while he conducted the necessary examination to determine the factual basis for the plea. I said, “Judge, I can’t leave. I’m his lawyer.” “Well,” said the Judge, “I can’t talk about these things in front of a lady.” “Judge,” I reassured him, “don’t think of me as anything but a lawyer.” (page 73, Living History). Shortly thereafter Hillary and a friend, Ann Henry, discussed the setting up of a rape hotline.

Hillary endured many insults whether intentional or the paternalistic stupid kind. She was not alone in suffering insults and as the Imus insults towards a team of young, predominantly African-American, women basketball players shows us, she is not the last.

But the world is a bit better thanks to Hillary. Ronald Reagan ran by holding out the hope that America would have a new morning. Hillary holds a great hope and promise for America too. We call it a Chelsea Morning. 

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