Hillary Clinton, loving wife and mother or politically-warped robot leader manipulated by campaign managers? New documents discovered by the Wall Street Journal reveal the Clinton portrayed to the media is just an organization-bred machine desperately designed as the ideal presidential candidate.
The Clinton Library released this week the paper records of Michael O’Mary, Clinton’s speechwriter when she was the First Lady. Among the documents was a vigorously-edited draft of her answers to a Scottish Newspaper’s, the Press and Journal, Q&A request in 1997. The heavy edits reveal staffers’ struggle to illustrate Clinton as a strong political leader in contrast to her identity as a president’s wife.
One such question, “How and where did you meet your husband?” received multiple revisions. Several drafts indicated “repeated changes to the story” and flowed between variations of these two anecdotes:
“I met my husband at Yale Law School. We met at the library, where, after I caught him looking at me, I introduced myself to him. Later, he joined me in a long line to register for classes, and we talked and talked. Before we knew it, we had walked all the way to the university art museum, where Bill showed me some of his favorite sculptures.”
“I met my husband at Yale Law School. We met at the library where I introduced myself to him. Later, he joined me in a long line to register for classes, and we talked for an hour. When we got to the front of the line, the registrar said, ‘Bill, what are you doing here? You already registered?’”
Other edits included changing Clinton from a maternal figure to, instead, the ultimate good-natured citizen:
What is your greatest ambition?” What appears to be an early draft answered: “To be a responsible and loving mother and wife and to instill values in my daughter that will serve her well as she grows up and has to navigate through a complicated world.” Scribbled underneath was another line geared more toward portraying Mrs. Clinton as a political figure: “Second, to live up to the American ideal of citizenship.”
And from a supportive wife to a leader on world issues:
...the answer to “How would you best like to be remembered?” was expanded to portray Mrs. Clinton not just as a supporter of her husband but as a champion of human rights. One draft showed this answer: “For using this rare opportunity to support my President and his vision of where to take our country on the eve of a new century.” In what appears to have been a later draft, this was added: “I also hope to use the platform I have to speak out for people on the margins of society, especially women and children, who too often don’t have a voice in the political, social, economic and civil life of their countries.”
The rewrites highlight Clinton’s staff determined push to represent her as a potential leader of the country rather than the mere background in politics, but to me the changed responses lose Clinton’s human relatedness quality, turning her into the stiff ice queen the public as too often recognized her as. Showing Clinton as a skilled leader helps her to be taken seriously by elite politicians, but not owning up to her as just another regular mom loses the general public’s vote.