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Hillary Clinton - A Quick Biography and Career Dossier
Politische Biographie - Hillary Clinton
by Alfredo Alvarez
Hillary Clinton can enjoy the spotlight. Throughout 2003, without raising a campaign finger, she consistently polls as the Democrats' favorite dream Presidential candidate for 2004, in contrast to over half a dozen others who have worked very hard only to get cursory press notice. John Edwards or Richard Gephardt must stand in line, one of many, on a stage for a debate. Hillary Clinton's persona draws crowds and press like a magnet, and her new book surpassed most people's expectations.
Clinton's $8 million gambit with publisher Simon & Schuster on her memoir, Living History, paid off quickly. Steller first-week sales made it second only to the new Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. She was the immediate toast of the publishing world.
In Living History, she describes her middle class mid-American upbringing. Her book begins, "I wasn't born a first lady or a senator. I wasn't born a Democrat. I wasn't born a lawyer or an advocate for women's rights and human rights. I wasn't born a wife or a mother."
Her story starts in Chicago, during the Baby Boom, raised by a conservative family in middle-class America. How could a smart young woman from Chicago develop into a defining character of US politics at the turn of the century? Her political life has certainly been interesting:
She became a Democrat in 1968 while attending Wellesley College. She was active in student politics and was elected student government president, whereupon she advocated the admission of more black students and admission of men to women's dorms. She went to Yale Law School where she met Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton ran for governor of Arkansas in 1978. He won the Democratic nomination, which more or less ensured victory in the general election. During this time, Hillary Clinton invested $1,000 in commodities futures on the advice of a friend who worked as an attorney for Tyson Foods, one of the state's biggest businesses. That investment, which ultimately netted $100,000, has been the object of much criticism.
In the early 1980's she continued her law practice, as well as service on the board of the Children's Defense Fund. She chaired the Arkansas Education Standards Committee in 1983 and 1984. She served on the boards of TCBY and Wal-Mart. The National Law Journal named her in 1988 and 1991 as one of the top 100 influential lawyers in the country.
During these years, she and her husband invested in the Whitewater real estate project. The project's bank, Morgan Guaranty Savings and Loan ended up failing, costing the federal government $73 million. Whitewater later became the subject of congressional hearings and an independent counsel investigation.
After winning the Presidency in 1991, Bill Clinton announced that the leader of his task force on health care reform would be the first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The controversial commission produced a complicated plan which never came to the floor of either house. It was abandoned in September, 1994.
Clinton persevered through the health care debacle and the numerous White House scandals. She worked on lesser but noteworthy projects like shaping the CHIP, children's health insurance program, as well as breast cancer funding.
She authored It Takes A Village and donated the proceeds to children's hospitals. In 1998 the year was engulfed with the Monica Lewinsky scandal, through which she continued to publicly support her husband.
Three days after the 1998 elected, New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan announced that he would not seek re-election in 2000. Moynihan, who had served four terms, was considered one of the Senate's greatest thinkers, and he left big shoes to fill.
Clinton announced her campaign for Senate, despite the fact she did not live in New York state, or that she had never before had run for office. Despite early problems, and charges of carpetbagging, Clinton pulled off is universally viewed as an impressive campaign. Spending over $41 million, she beat popular Republican Rick Lazio by a surprisingly wide margin - 55% - 43%.
Clinton's prospects for a long Senate career are good. But many believe her ultimate goal is to return to the White House, this time as President. Her memoir Living History shines insight into the ideas, history and motives of who is clearly the country's more popular, yet divisive, Democrat.