Hilary Clinton and the 1992 United States election
Md. Taqi Yasir
The most controversial figure of the election year so far has been a woman, Hillary Clinton, and she isn’t even running for office. Or is she? Whether she loves the boy in Bill Clinton as much as the man or whether she is simply unwilling to forfeit her sixteen years’ investment in their political partnership, Hillary is determined to seize the national stage.
In May of 1990, Bill Clinton was running for his fifth term as governor of Arkansas. While he was conveniently out of town, a challenger in the Democratic primary, Tom McCrae, called a press conference in the echo chamber of the capitol rotunda. He was in the middle of telling everyone who would listen that Bill Clinton was a chicken and since the governor will not debate when all at once another voice chewed into his sound bite.
And it is Hillary Rodham Clinton, lawyer–activist–teacher–author–corporate board woman–mother and wife of Bill, who is the diesel engine powering the front-running Democratic campaign. In the space of one week in late January, Hillary fast-forwarded from being introduced as “wife of” to the victim of “the other woman” to “Trapped in a Spotlight, Hillary Clinton Uses It” , the last illustrated by a picture which said it all: Hillary with her arm thrust in the air and wearing a big campaign smile, out in front of her husband.
In Los Angeles, at a March 26 salmon-and-spinach luncheon hosted by Hollywood producer Dawn Steel and television producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. Hillary dazzled an audience that is usually ho-hum about stars and plenty impressed with themselves.
The Clinton campaign had devised what they called a slow build for Hillary in 1992; a gradual insertion of the Arkansas first lady into the spotlight — and into what they hoped would be the hearts of millions of Americans. That approach went out the skylight in late January when, weeks before the critical New Hampshire primary, a former cabaret singer named Jennifer Flowers came forward with allegations of an extramarital affair with the governor.
In the end, the attacks on Hillary likely went too far, argues Bernstein, making her a sympathetic character and political victim of the right, something the Clinton campaign never could have done on its own. Of course, there were still several more Hillary situations to come, from Whitewater to her failed health care reforms, but if Clinton is the candidate to finally shatter the presidential glass ceiling this election, it will have as much to do with her perseverance in 1992 as the 18 million cracks she claims her 2008 campaign put in it.