Eoin O Catháin examines Hillary Clinton's political career so far and argues that we should expect a bitter political campaign over the next 18 months.
Last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States. Hillary made her desire to become the country’s first female President, to “crack the glass-ceiling”, evident in 2008 when she first campaigned for the candidacy after representing New York in the U.S. Senate.
Her campaign faltered after a strong start and she finished a humiliating third, behind eventual winner Barack Obama and John Edwards. The campaign was often bitter: then Obama staffer (now US representative to the United Nations) Samantha Power resigned after her comments calling Hillary a ‘monster’ were made public.
Edwards’ political career faded in controversy when his womanising was publicised— the final nail in the coffin being that his philandering continued as his wife battled cancer— but Hillary’s career went into ascent.
In a move that surprised many, President Obama invited Hillary to join his team as Secretary of State, the top diplomat of the U.S. She enjoyed unprecedented popularity as she traveled the world to restore her country’s reputation, left battered and bruised by the unpopularity of Bush.
She visited 112 countries, a record high for Secretaries of States, and seemed to relish her relative freedom of international politics. A popular tumblr page, textsfromhillary.com, projected the image of a strong, powerful, diplomat and Hillary strived to spread the US message abroad by promoting citizen diplomacy, whereby citizens would interact with the USA, instead of the powerful diplomats and politicians. When pictures emerged of her dancing and drinking beer in South America, the political press were quick to applaud her, seemingly impressed that she could finally relax.
Hillary left her position as Secretary of State in 2012, and from then on her campaign for Democratic nominee for the Presidential race 2016 began. Her successful book “Hard Choices” gave her a platform to travel across the USA, meeting potential voters and invigorating her fan-base.
This will not be a smooth and comfortable race for the West Wing. Some controversies from her political past have come back to haunt her, and many conservatives seem to have pure vitriol for her.
The hashtag #WhyImNotVotingForHillary trended on Sunday, which was sure to embarrass her campaign. This then begs the question, why does the right-wing have such hatred for Hillary?
Following her announcement, via a video on her website, many of her Republican rivals posted their own videos criticising Hillary and outlining their reasons for opposing her.
Carly Fiorina, a Republican businesswoman considering her own bid for the White House, attacked her leadership skills, alleging that Hillary, “does not have a track-record of accomplishment or transparency.”
Ted Cruz, a Republican Texas Senator, stated that Hillary represents the “failed policies of the past”, and a “third Obama term”.
Many of the criticisms focusing on Hillary return to her time as Secretary of State and the events of Benghazi, Libya. In 2011-12, Libya was in revolt. The Libyan people deposed and executed the despotic Colonel Gaddafi, but the subsequent power struggle between rebel factions turned violent. Life in Benghazi, the second largest city, was dangerous.
On September 11th, 2012, an attack on the US diplomatic compound had fatal consequences, and four Americans including US Ambassador Chris Stevens were murdered. Hillary became the first Secretary of State since 1979 to lose an Ambassador in service.
Republicans allege that requests for security and aid were ignored, and that Hillary did not do enough in her position. This accusation haunts Hillary to this day, never more so with the recent controversy over her email server and the deleted files.
Hillary’s transparency is questioned considering she used a private email during her time as Secretary of State, and this is compounded by the fact that she has deleted over 40,000 emails from that server before making them public. On Sunday, Twitter saw many an accusation, between old and new, being made.
Former US President Benjamin Franklin once said, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” The certainty of a bitter political campaign over the next 18 months is also all but assured.