Hillary Rodham Clinton in Ahmedabad in 1995 as the First Lady trying her hand at block printing (Photo: Courtesy/ U.S. Consulate General)
Let me first say this unreservedly and unequivocally that Hillary Rodham Clinton should be the next president of America.
I am claiming to be the first journalist to have asked her way before anyone had even suggested that she has what it takes to be the president of the United States. That was in 1995, when she as the first lady visited Ela Bhatt’s Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in Ahmedabad. I was there to report and purely on an impulse I asked her—rather threw a question at her—about the prospect of her becoming president one day. I am not sure if she heard it in the throng of secret service detail and others and, if she heard it, she felt it appropriate to answer my rather unnecessary question in the context. In any event, for a journalist fast approaching his oblivion I must claim some measure of vindication even if I have no documentary evidence to support my claim. I did ask the question 19 years ago and that’s that.
With that out of the way, the main theme of the post. I am for Clinton as the next president. That said, I have been watching her latest round of media appearances in the guise of promoting her book ‘Hard Choices’ with a measure chariness. She is at a stage of her life and career where she cannot be much else other than a precisely calibrated political vernier caliper(s). Everything she says and does comes across as well-rehearsed and meticulously measured. I am not holding her precision against her but one looks for a semblance of handcraftedness (Not a word. Coined here for the purpose), quite like the block printing she is engaging in the photograph above. One immediate example of her calibrated life is a comment I read as having been made by her the other day. She said "the Bible was and remains the biggest influence on my thinking." I am sure she means it and means it without the context of the approaching presidential season still in a distant horizon. However, there is something calculated about this pronouncement.
Her media tour to promote the book has inevitably become an event with a larger political context. Perhaps given who she is, she can’t help it. Her shadow is political and she cannot shake it off. My endorsement of Clinton as president is as much about her credentials as it is about a desire to see American politics yielding to a woman. While her gender is almost entirely incidental to the debate, in so much as it brings some features that set her apart because she is a woman are something one looks forward to. Let us not androgynize the person of the president because many men in America may not be entirely certain about a woman in that role. It is not as if every male president has scaled heights of statesmanship progressively greater than his predecessor.
I have frequently maintained that America needs a woman president for the next 240 years at least because that is how long it will have had male presidents by the time Barack Obama’s term ends at 11.59 a.m. on January 20, 2017. Let that begin with Hillary Clinton even if she is so calibrated. I am not necessarily her supporter but there is no better person right now to correct this massive historic wrong than her.