Judging Hillary Clinton by Bill Clinton
What would you think if I said I liked or didn’t like Joan Didion’s writing based on the work of her husband? If I picked up a John Dunne book and read it and said, “Well, now I know everything I need to know about Joan Didion’s writing style,” I think you’d cock your head to the side and say, “I don’t know how the two are connected.”
Even if I continued, “Well, she gave him writing advice and edits on all of his books. So now that I’ve read his book, I can totally imagine how Joan Didion writes.” You might counter, “But editing isn’t the same as writing. If you read her work, you’re going to discover that they have two very different voices despite having lived and worked together for many years.”
This conversation isn’t really about Joan Didion and John Dunne.
The point is… Hillary Clinton isn’t Bill Clinton, and she should not be liked or not liked based on the leadership style of her husband. Yes, they have worked closely together for many years, and I’m sure she has offered him advice. But you cannot know how she’ll be as a president based on how Bill was as a president — good or bad. She is her own person with her own foibles and strengths.
And neither her husband’s infidelity nor his policies have any place in a discussion of Hillary Clinton’s ability to serve as president any more that we would ever look at Melania Trump’s parenting or career in order to judge Donald Trump. The fact that Trump keeps trying to bring this topic into the discussion means he’s treating the election like a tabloid article and not the American people hiring our next leader.
While I believe she has a lot of strengths and that her foibles are generally the ones of all politicians as well as the narrative created by the media, the decision to vote for her has to be about her. Not about her husband or other Democratic leaders or the DNC itself. Just a lone woman, standing on a public stage, requesting that we allow her to lead the country.
Yes, I am a little cranky as I read yet more coverage that doesn’t allow the woman to own her accomplishments and keeps bringing her future back to her husband’s past. Which, when you think about judging Joan Didion’s work by her husband’s writing style, is reductive and demeaning towards the individual.
Plus Joan Didion’s books are amazing. I would have really missed out if I hadn’t given her a chance as a writer based on her own merit.