If Hillary can survive a nine hour Congressional grilling, she can survive anythingby Sam Tanenhaus / November 12, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2015 issue of Prospect Magazine
When it comes to choosing presidents Americans have preferences that often override differences of ideology and even party. We prefer them tall, trim, clean-shaven, with a full head of hair. Athletes rather than scholars: “star of the team, most popular boy, grinning reluctant stud,” as an envious, glowering Richard Nixon characterises his boss, President Dwight Eisenhower, in Robert Coover’s novel The Public Burning. It seems silly—until we realise how often the formula works: John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, both George Bushes, Barack Obama.
There is no formula for women, because none has been elected or even nominated by one of the two major parties. Thus, the singularity of Hillary Clinton, who is making her second try for the presidency, and her second as the Democratic front-runner. Her own role model, she has said, is Eleanor Roosevelt, who once said, “I would rather be chloroformed than run for office.” Clinton hasn’t always matched Roosevelt’s upper-crust aplomb. But after a bruising spring and summer in which her poll numbers plunged, and a surprise rival, Bernie Sanders outflanked her on the left, she seems to have broken through to new mastery, and self-mastery.