At Hillary's 50th Reunion at Wellesley College
If Hillary Rodham Clinton insists she’s not running for president in 2020, why is she running… all over the place? Well, for one thing, Her Heinous has always believed in the value of high visibility as a means of enhancing her political chances When she’s out of sight it’s almost like she’s out of her mind.
To that self-serving purpose, she and Bill arranged a cross-country tour of joint speaking engagements that began last year. It was to be a means of keeping their power-presumptive connubial image front and fresh in the public eye, but flopped almost from the start. And recently a Broadway show based on her 2016 presidential run hit rock bottom in sales, closing after a shortened run.
But there is one audience that will always come through enthusiastically for Mrs. Clinton. Even before she came into national prominence, Hillary found comfort in knowing that she could always return in triumph to the place where her venture into politics began: Wellesley College, her alma mater in Massachusetts
As Hillary became increasingly famous, her welcome on campus grew even more jubilant. As the younger classes graduated and began to vote, the army of her dedicated collegiate “sisters” mushroomed, and the reciprocal affection flourished. During the period when Bill Clinton was president, Hillary invited everyone in her Wellesley Class of ’69 to attend a state dinner at the White House. If there were any Republicans among them, they were not turned away. Neither, presumably, were they fools enough to discuss politics at the swank event.
For Wellesley alumnae, reunions occur every five years based on the last number of their graduating class. As a result I have always shared the same “reunion cycle” with both Hillary and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright . Both of them are younger than I am – and that, alas, is not their only distinction. In addition, they share the right -- or left, really -- politics with the majority of our alma mater’s grads and undergrads. And as American institutions of higher learning deliver a more liberal doctrinaire, the likelihood of finding conservatives on campus has diminished greatly.
This makes it pleasurably assuring for Hillary to return to Wellesley to either speak at commencements or attend reunions. This year marked her milestone 50th reunion -- and the highly publicized “conversation” featuring her and Ms. Albright, who was celebrating her 60th, could not have been more enthusiastically received. On a magnificent sunny day, the lines for that event snaked for blocks around Alumnae Hall, where only advance ticket holders were admitted The rest of those who wished to get in on the excitement had to settle for watching it on a screen elsewhere on campus.
This June I went back to Wellesley for my 65th college reunion. And despite my “contrary” politics, I was determined to personally witness that ballyhooed discourse. (Democrats love “conversations,” if only with the like-minded.) I’d threatened earlier to express my ire by “taking a knee.” But the reality is that were I to do so at my age, I likely would never get up again. So I settled for muttering occasional snide objections under my breath, a futile exercise drowned out by waves of affection for Wellesley’s inarguably most famous alumna.
This was not the first time I had been part of a campus audience listening to Hillary harangue from the stage. At her own graduation fifty years ago, the then-Ms. Rodham, who was the designated spokesperson for her class, lit into Massachusetts Republican Senator Edward Brooke, the first African-American to be elected to the US. Senate since Reconstruction Days. It seems that Hillary had little use for the commencement speaker’s “vision.” Word circulated that Hillary had beforehand submitted for vetting to the college president a different speech altogether. That proved not to be the last time she would pull a political fast one.
Indeed, the tumultuous year of 1969 was an ideal time for Hillary to assert herself as a new breed of political cat. And though she has often taken delight in claiming to have been a proper, blonde suburban Goldwater girl before coming to Wellesley from the mid-west, by the time she read Senator Brooke the riot act at her college graduation Hillary had become a straggle-haired, owl-glasses-wearing acolyte of progressive community organizer Saul Alinsky. Life Magazine, at the time sporting a huge circulation, chose to feature her speech in an article.
Back then, Hillary’s discourse pleased her classmates and infuriated older alums. But the die had been cast. Our country was deep into a frustrating and costly “military action” in Vietnam that had slogged on for fifteen unproductive years, bringing death to tens of thousands of American fighters. During Hillary’s junior year at Wellesley (1968) the unsuccessful Tet offensive became the turning point of the war, sadly signaling that the end of U.S. involvement was nowhere in sight.
The result was increased domestic skepticism toward the war. Protests escalated on college campuses and elsewhere. The political ramifications, especially for young people, was incalculable. As for Hillary, she eventually found a like-minded mate and rode the crest of the new wave to international fame.
Over the past half century, Hillary’s appetite for the blood sport of politics hasn’t diminished. Two defeats in presidential campaigns have not silenced her nor impacted her officious confidence. And who knows? If her audiences on the campaign trail had been as enthusiastic as the ones she gets when returning to her alma mater, perhaps she would now be lecturing us from the Oval Office.
In any event, there’s something about Hillary that will not quit. Hubris, perhaps, or chutzpah. She never doubts but that she is a quintessential force for good She seems incapable of expressing herself without massaging the moral message.
Feeling comfortably relaxed during her latest Wellesley “conversation,” Hillary’s performance -- despite her customary abundance of “uh’s” -- was almost witty, and always self-centered. With ten minutes to go, she could, after all, no longer resist a swipe at the man who beat her in 2016, telling her cheering audience that “anyone who reads the Mueller report” knows that there was obstruction of justice.
So where does Hillary go from here? Will she continue to publicly promoting herself? Will she eventually endorse one of the Democrat contenders?
While it may seem like a long shot to the rest of us, Hillary might still be seriously harboring designs on the White House. Perhaps she supposes that if the “circular firing squad” devastates the entire inept pack of Democratic wannabes, she might yet emerge as the one to once again duke it out with The Donald. In any event, don’t expect her to be baking cookies in her well-appointed Chappaqua kitchen anytime soon.