Sarita Sarvate

Billary Revisited

Apr 16, 2008

India Currents

BY SARITA SARVATE

Whenever Hillary Clinton touts her “experience,” an imaginary mockumentary plays in my head. In it, I am walking into a high rise building in downtown San Francisco, dressed in a power suit. I have an interview for the position of an energy analyst. When asked what experience I have for the job, I reply that I have attended conferences with my husband who has been the president of an energy company for 30 years.
This is how ridiculous Hillary Clinton’s “experience” seems to me.

Professional women like me know only too well that we can’t get anywhere in this world on the basis of being someone’s wife. Unless, of course, we happen to belong to the upper echelons in some third world country, like Eva Peron or Indira Gandhi or Corazon Aquino.

Ok, I know what you are going to say; Hillary has experience in the Senate. I have two responses to that argument. One, in her current campaign, she is citing her experience as first lady more than her experience as a senator, perhaps because her achievements in the latter office have been so underwhelming. (Actually her stint as first lady was equally underwhelming, if not downright dangerous, some would argue; others would claim that her botched up healthcare reform efforts have been the root cause of lack of progress on healthcare in the U.S. all these years.)

Two, when Hillary ran for Senate, she had had no political career whatsoever. All she had was her husband’s influence in the Democratic Party. Her political experience then had been gained entirely vicariously rather than on her own steam. But for the lack of a real opponent in that campaign—Rick Lazio entered the race only after Rudy Giuliani decided not to run—I doubt that Hillary would be a senator today.

What was more distasteful to me during her Senate campaign was how the media, the feminists, as well as some Democratic Party bigwigs told us over and over again that we owed her the senate seat as a compensation for being the silently suffering wife.

Here was a classic American fairy tale: a woman gaining fame and fortune solely on the basis of her status as a victim.

I might as well have been watching Nancy Grace or some other tabloid show.

But we, the American public, did not ask Hillary to suffer. We did not ask her to stay in that marriage. The choice was entirely hers. And don’t forget she had a choice. She was not married to the mafia.

Hillary Clinton seems to me a fascinating product of Americana, a woman deeply conflicted and insecure, who has hung on to her husband’s coattails as if her life depended on it.

When Hillary decided to run for President, I wished she would not. Because her chances of winning against the Republicans, who hated her guts, seemed zero. But she made that decision—not for me and you, not to save the country—but because it was her turn.

That’s right, it was her turn to become President because of what her husband had done.

Oh, pleea…se. Isn’t a senate seat enough compensation?

So why is the media not rebutting Hillary’s argument of “experience?” Why is that she is able to get away with her claim that “I’ve visited 80 countries and told the Chinese government to treat their women better?”

Those 80 overseas trips were nothing more than junkets. And she did not tell the Chinese government anything effectual, because she had no authority to do so.

I think America’s acceptance of Hillary tells us as much about our society as it tells us about her desperate need for power. I think we are so divided into dualities of the powerful and the powerless, the rulers and the ruled, the haves and the have-nots, that the media, the feminists, and many members of the public have simply accepted the Clinton dynasty as a fait accompli.

This is not to say that Hillary Clinton is stupid. She is obviously a good policy wonk, with a fine ability to debate serious issues like healthcare. She would perhaps make a great advisor for a president. But I don’t think she is cut out to be president, at least not a good president.

Besides, neither she nor Barack Obama will have a chance of winning the White House if she continues the dirty campaign tactics she has used in the last few weeks. In fact, she is causing serious harm to the Democratic Party by throwing mud at her opponent.

Her smear campaign against Obama has confirmed my deepest suspicion that Hillary values power far more than she values the future of this country.

Why else would she willingly provide ammunition to the Republicans against Obama, who will eventually be forced to pay her back in kind? Why else would she ensure that if she becomes the nominee, Republicans will use her own tactics against her, destroying her and ruining the Democrats’ chances of resurrecting the country from the George Bush debacle and the Iraqi blood bath?

I hope Democratic voters in Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and other remaining primary states will soon realize that the argument that Hillary presents our only chance of sending a woman to the White House is simply not a good enough reason to vote for someone as dysfunctional as Senator Clinton. We must wait for the right woman to come along at the right time to make her mark on history.

Besides, Hillary seems to me not so much a woman as Billary, a political alliance based on ego rather than altruism. And I expect better from our democracy.