Hillary Nixon?

A Democratic friend writes that Hillary Clinton reminds him of Richard Nixon. “She projects the sense that she wants to undertake the burden of being President less out of passion for what she could give at the obvious cost of personal happiness that the terrible burdens of the office entail than some desire for personal validation as though her sense of self worth somehow depends upon her being elected as the Leader of the Free World.”

My response:

Would not it take great determination to break the glass ceiling and become the first woman president, through tenacity and hard work and enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? That’s what I bet Hillary Clinton sees as her mission — to break a long-standing barrier for women — and that she has a better shot at doing it than any other female on the political scene.

Does not the self-worth of all or at least most women increase a bit if she wins, just as the self-worth of African Americans most definitely increased with Obama’s election?

Ironically, she has had a far tougher and bumpier ride than Obama, who seemed to ride a wave into the presidency in 2008. Who would have thought before 2008 than Americans would be far quicker to elect an African American than a woman?

I tend to see the tragedy of Richard Nixon as not simply a man of bad character who would have failed no matter when he became president, but as a combination of personal insecurity and combative political style resulting from clawing and scratching his way back from political oblivion in 1962, and from a nation at war with itself over Vietnam. Nixon’s biggest problem was his venality. I don’t see that Mrs. Clinton has that, not yet at least. And I don’t see America today at war with itself in the way that Vietnam left deep wounds for a generation or more.


  • 1957: Nixon Almost Became President:Thomas Mallon, writing in The New Yorker on Nixon’s 100th birthday, speculates:

    “Nixon would have reached the Presidency a dozen years sooner, at the age of forty-four. He would have arrived in the Oval Office misshapen by politics, to be sure, as a bruising campaigner who’d been forced to balance his checkbook on live TV and then spend five years trying to figure out the ways of a maddening boss whom everybody else seemed to love. But he would not have undergone the psychological damage of two crushing defeats that still lay ahead, and he would not have been presiding over a country at war in Southeast Asia and with itself. If that had happened, who knows what this gifted, knotted-up man, this “one of us,” might have spared himself, and his wife, and every other one of us?” —“Wag the Dog: The Making of Richard Nixon.”


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