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The Battle of the Two Hillarys

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 26/10/2015 Kathleen Schafer
HILLARY CLINTON © Bloomberg via Getty Images HILLARY CLINTON

Today I came across the article below that I wrote in January 2007. Interesting in the shadow of Hillary Clinton's marathon testimony before the Congressional Committee investigating Benghazi because it shows progress on the central issue that plagued her previous presidential bid.
As a woman and strong candidate for the job in 2016, she endured more than any of her State Department predecessors in answering questions about her leadership. Bolstered by her experience and growing confidence she allowed a fuller and more nuanced Hillary to come forward during the testimony--and she has been praised for it. This is the ray of hope for those longing for leadership change in our nation's Capitol; if she can understand the difference between playing like the ol' boys and transcending them, then her winning next November becomes a much more likely scenario.
The choice is the same as it was the last time and perhaps she will choose a different option creating the outcome she desires.
Hillary's Biggest Decision from 2007
Wherever one gets their news from these days, it is difficult to avoid political pundits prognosticating about the 2008 presidential race. The conversations rarely begin or end without a detailed thrashing of Hillary Clinton's presidential aspirations and political prowess. She is not only viewed by the Democrats as the one to beat in the primary, but is widely viewed as a formidable opponent for the eventual Republican nominee in the General election.
She enters the race unlike any candidate in our storied political history. A wide majority of Americans not only know who she is, but they have a well-established opinion from her time as the Governor's wife in Arkansas, to modern First Lady of the United States to history-making and deftly effective junior Senator from New York. They love her for the barriers she has broken and her relentless pursuit of issues of that matter to her such as child welfare and micro-loans. They despise her for her strong stands, outspoken opinions and unwillingness to play demure spouse to an equally powerful husband whose ambitions and predilections will continue to serve as contrast to her evolving candidacy. Those few who remain undecided simply are not clear which Hillary is the real one--is she really a cold, calculated, power-hungry woman looking to grab history's ultimate gender prize or is she a woman who cares deeply about the issues facing Americans and was willing to labor in the shadows of her more charismatic spouse?
The perceived personality battle of the two Hillary's may be more real that many of us would like to believe. It is indicative of the leadership corner many female officials get painted into--in order to succeed politically women are forced to take-on masculine characteristics to survive in the political battlefield. This is not to suggest that women don't have the strength to govern effectively, far from it, indeed, most women are naturally inclined to see the complexities of situations and to look to addressing root causes of issues instead of simply adopting might-makes-right policies. Effective leadership in any field and by every leadership scholar with whom I am familiar, emphasizes the need to bring a variety of skills from across the human spectrum (both masculine and feminine) together to have an individual capable of effectively addressing issues and challenges.
Which brings us to Hillary's most important question--not if she can win the Presidency--but rather that in running a national campaign is she capable, and willing, to lead in a balanced way, or will she adopt typically masculine qualities while running as a women. For her there are many examples of the latter, while few high-profile women officials have been willing to boldly step-forward with a leadership style that embraces the strengths they bring to the table--including a willingness to be thoughtful, caring and compassionate and to demonstrate those qualities both personally and politically.
Few would argue that the votes that will define any candidacy in 2008 for a sitting member of Congress will be those on the Iraq war. For Senator Clinton she followed a reactionary wave of post-911 retribution supposedly aimed at punishing those involved in perpetrating the crimes. Few officials were willing to stand up to the feverous wave of sophomoric thinking they believed would not only topple Sadam Hussein but would also successfully redeem the wrongs that had been done against our country. Did Hillary vote against her feminine instincts that would have told her that one does not end violence with more violence? Did she fail to see that the proposed US policy was thin and poorly oriented toward conquering a weaker enemy instead of focusing on how to build-up a politically, economically, and socially impoverished nation? Did she loose sight of inhumanity an unjustified war brings to all those involved most especially our own soldiers? Were these lapses in her own depth of leadership or was she taking the politically prudent way out? As a woman, our greatest fear in the public realm is to be considered "weak." Would an opposition position have allowed her opponents to have painted her "unable to protect our country"?
If there had been a presidential contender who had been strong enough to express these views at the time, they would now be revered for their insight and would have a clear path to White House. Those who in the moment were seen as tough defenders of our security during the lead-up to the war now must maneuver in a hazy cloud of public skepticism about their values and abilities to steer clear of an international disaster. Ironically, very few people view Senator Clinton as lacking the talent, skills and ability to keep our country safe--a Commander-in-Chief she can easily be. What people question in the absence of her truly owning her feminine power--as true leadership strengths to be brought to the table. Without this distinction very few will see her as different from any other male candidate?

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