[Viewpoint]Hillary and Barack: converging paths

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[Viewpoint]Hillary and Barack: converging paths


The most photographed woman in human history must be the late Princess Diana. And the person who is most likely to break Princess Diana’s record must be Hillary Clinton. She has already been photographed regularly as the first lady of the United States and then as a senator from New York. Now, she is going to serve as the secretary of state, and if she goes on to take other important offices, Clinton’s record will be hard to beat.

If President-elect Barack Obama is the symbol of ethnic minorities, Hillary Clinton is the role model for women with vision.

The era of Obama will also be the period of Hillary. Both share a passion for public policy. They both earned diplomas from prestigious schools, but they were devoted to the general good.

Upon graduating from Harvard Law School, Obama turned down high-paying Wall Street jobs and went to Chicago’s poorest neighborhood.

Senator Clinton was born to a middle-class family, but she was interested in poverty and human rights. At age 14, she participated in a campaign providing child care to immigrant farm workers and went to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak. She attended Wellesley College and wrote as her undergraduate thesis a comparative study of social work in a poverty-ridden neighborhood. She graduated from Yale Law School but chose a career in public service instead of practicing law in New York. From January 1974, she worked on Capitol Hill for the House Committee on the Judiciary’s investigation of the Watergate scandal.

Hillary Clinton turned down offers from big law firms and moved to Arkansas as a public advocate. She helped found a hospital for the poor and devoted herself to child abuse and foster care issues.

Obama and Clinton both are known for having overcome difficulties. Obama was known to have dabbled in alcohol and drugs in his youth as he experienced feeling alienated. However, he overcame this youthful crisis with a strong will and studied diligently to become the man he is today.

Hillary Clinton, too, had a personal crisis. Her husband, Bill Clinton was impeached for having sexual relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and the independent counsel who investigated the scandal completely exposed his inappropriate conduct. The world condemned President Clinton. Any woman in her position would have either suppressed her anger watching her husband criticized or cried alone in a corner of the White House. Hillary Clinton, too, was a woman, and her husband had put the love and comfort of his family in jeopardy. So she had her husband sleep on a couch and did not speak to him. However, she controlled her feelings and stood by her husband against personal attacks. Even when the details of Bill Clinton’s behavior was disclosed, she did not lose her composure.

She called the offensive to impeach him “a vast, right-wing conspiracy.” When President Clinton wiped away tears at a news conference, Mrs. Clinton cheered for him. In front of reporters, she gave a brilliant smile alongside her husband. Her behavior might have been out of calculation. She might have thought that if she sided with the rest of the world and criticized her husband, her ambition might wither away as well.

Had she turned against her husband, she arguably would not have become a senator, run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president or been appointed to the post of state secretary by Obama.

Since she was a little girl, she has always been driven by ambition. Judith Warner’s biography “Hillary Clinton: The Inside Story” tells of an episode from her childhood. When the Soviet Union launched the first man-made satellite, Sputnik, in 1957, the young Hillary wrote to NASA. She asked what kind of training she needed to become an astronaut. She was furious when she received a reply that she need not apply since NASA did not accept female candidates.

As we watched Barack Obama being elected to the presidency of the United States, we were exhilarated by the success of an African?American. As I watch the path of Hillary Clinton, I am awed by the success of this woman. Since she was young, she has been interested in public service and consistently walked her own path. At a time of crisis, she embraced her husband as well as her future.

There must be many more women who are as smart as Hillary Clinton. However, a wise one like her is certainly rare. She cares about the community and can cope with a crisis. This courageous woman will work with Barack Obama as humanity, not just America, faces a trial.


The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Jin

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