Hillary Blazes Trails As She Becomes Secretary of State

By  | 


When the important matters of our day are all but forgotten, I think the Clintons will still be remembered, if not accurately, then at least as meaningful figures of their time. Inside that couple is a Shakespearean play. Too bad all we have so far is Primary Colors.

As you all know, today marked Hillary Clinton’s official ascension to Secretary of State. That makes the Clintons the only American couple in history in which both husband and wife became one of the world’s most powerful people. That’s no small feat.

What I hope this marks is the end, or at least the beginning of the end, of the era when powerful, capable women served as hidden advisors to their powerful husbands. Obviously, women have served on their own merits in government for awhile now and I don’t mean to minimize their achievements. But there is still the expectation in our culture that powerful men will not have equally powerful wives. Hillary Clinton has fought that expectation and, despite her shortcomings, I admire her for her tenacity in the face of a culture that still sees her more as Bill’s wife than her own person.

Hillary Clinton lost her party’s presidential nomination and could have easily taken that as the ultimate sign that she would never rise above the position of senator. Instead, she did what few said was possible — she made nice with Barack Obama and secured for herself the most powerful position in the cabinet. She’s not the first (or even the second) woman to serve as Secretary of State and she still has to prove herself capable, but, thanks to her, fewer couples will feel compelled to make the either/or choice. Both husband and wife can aspire and achieve great heights. That seems obvious, but it’s a surprisingly new cultural phenomenon.