There's only one Clinton now. She's been great

Share

Hillary Clinton's memoirs end in 2001, just after she was elected to the Senate and eight years before she became Barack Obama's Secretary of State. They're called Living History, but her own political career was still in the future when the Clintons left the White House for the last time. The woman who stepped down as the US's chief diplomat two days ago is living proof that Scott Fitzgerald was wrong when he said there are no second acts in American lives.

It's hard to believe there won't be a second volume of Clinton's memoirs. The original book finishes on a sentimental note as she recalls the outgoing president "taking me in his arms as we waltzed together down the long hall" of the White House, but she's older and savvier these days. She's completed this phase of her career looking weary – she's travelled almost a million miles and visited 112 countries – but also much more comfortable with herself; the time when she seemed to change her hairstyle by the week is long gone. So is the ambitious lawyer who put her husband's political career before her own and entered the White House as First Lady, a role which mostly frustrated her attempts to modernise it.

The change in Hillary Clinton's fortunes since those days is nothing short of astonishing. During Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign, she ended up fielding lurid allegations about his infidelities. During his second term as President, she dismissed claims about his affair with Monica Lewinsky as part of a "vast right-ring conspiracy" until it became clear that they had more to do with his habitual sexual incontinence. It seemed little short of tragic to hear this smart woman resorting to clichés, averring that she always knew Bill Clinton would be "a hard dog to keep on the porch".

These days, it's her husband who needs the qualifying first name when we say "Clinton". Hillary is going strong at 65, while the former president, just a year older, works the international conference circuit and plays golf. Obama's verdict that she "will go down as one of the finest secretaries of state we've had" may be generous, given her reluctance to break ties with old allies such as Hosni Mubarak, as the Arab Spring unfolded. But she's been outspoken, urging China to respect human rights, and she's put equality for gay people at the heart of US diplomacy.

Clinton leaves office with sky-high approval ratings. One of her lesser-known achievements is the creation of an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, to ensure gender is considered in foreign policy decisions. While a recent health scare may have put another run at the Democratic nomination in doubt, the fact that people are talking about a 69-year-old woman as a possible candidate in 2016 shows how much she has changed public attitudes. Any woman who has lived in the shadow of a powerful man should look at Hillary Clinton and recognise the transformative power of a challenging job.

www.politicalblonde.com; twitter.com/@polblonde

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

Government hails latest GDP figures, but there is still room for scepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little