Thank you, Hillary Rodham Clinton, for your resilience.
Thank you for representing the rights of women and children, at home and all over the world.
Thank you for standing up to tyrants, at home and overseas.
I still believe one of your finest moments on the public stage was when you upbraided the Chinese on human rights. Women’s rights, you chided, are human rights.
You’ve made the same comment about gay rights. You’ve stood up to bullies and showed the world that a woman leader doesn’t resort to name-calling and petulance when she can’t get her way.
Diplomacy is a more gentle form of persuasion. Much of your success as Secretary of State won’t be known until books are written about your legacy.
When I worked in Washington, we used to laugh at the male leaders that would encounter you if you became president. You couldn’t win the Democrat primary, but then, you captured international attention in a way the presidency wouldn’t have allowed.
You showed diplomacy works. Amid all the naysayers and hatemongers in Washington, you proved that a Secretary of State can urge peace and use the weight of American power to improve economic development in impoverished countries. With President Barack Obama, you proved that superpowers can end wars.
You haven’t stopped championing the rights of youth since your early career at the Children’s Defense Fund. You helped produce laws protecting foster children, abused children, and neglected and abandoned youths.
It wasn’t successful, but your attempt in the mid-90s to introduce universal health care was followed by the Affordable Health Care Act — the most important legislative advance this country has seen in decades. (As a woman with disabilities ineligible for health insurance under the current system, I am selfishly grateful for this historic achievement.)
History will record all the “firsts” in your life, yet many women will remember more personal stories. They’ll recall how the Washington mob tormented you with all kinds of insults when you were First Lady (accusing you of murder, for instance), through two terms. They’ll recall how you weathered the Monica Lewinsky mess with grace, and handled your marriage on your terms afterward.
Tough, funny and smart
I covered you in New York during your first campaign for senator, and was disappointed that we didn’t get to meet privately. In conversations on the campaign trail, I realized you were tougher than even your critics allowed, yet that famous sense of humor was evident everywhere you traveled.
Your resilience through all the slings and arrows of public life has been remarkable. Your resilience on the issues most important to you — human rights, civil rights, protecting minorities — is even more impressive.
You’ve outlasted most of those early Washington critics, so now it’s safe to say they were annoyed by your intelligence. You’ve long been one of the smartest people in the room, and at 65, we can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.
I wish you healing after your head injury, and rest after your long slog as the most-traveled Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton. I wish you joy with your family and friends. I hope you find fulfilment in the work you do next, on the world stage, following the example of Martin Luther King, Jr. (I read that you became a Democrat after hearing him speak in 1962.)
Your mentors are larger-than-life, just like your record of public service.
Thank you, from a new citizen.