Its been a long road for Senator Hillary Clinton. The road has led to her consideration as Secretary of State in a world full of uncertainties. Article after article, pundit after pundit describe why she is not the right choice (see Politico today, NYT, Huffington Post, the cable nets and many other sources.) In the aftermath of the campaign, people have forgotten that Hillary Clinton is more than who she was as a presidential candidate. I realized I was guilty of this too. The most significant thing I had to remember after all that has happened is who Hillary Clinton is to the rest of the world. To the rest of the world, Hillary Clinton is the truest leader of women's rights on earth.
Christie Vilsak, the former First Lady of Iowa and founder of the Iowa Initiative to Reduce Unwanted Pregnancies, says this of Senator Clinton: "She is the woman everyone is looking to. She is a model for women aross the world. All those women out there are looking to see how she reacts. If she doesn't do this, what does it say about the rest of the U.S.?" Mrs. Vilsak went on to say that in Liberia, a Liberian Cabinet Minister said that Hillary Clinton has changed the world women live in and has created and presented an image to the women of this world.
Senator Clinton has led the cause of women's rights since her early days as first lady, when she travelled to the Summit in Tokyo in July of 1993. As Gwen Ifill reported then, "Hillary Clinton Wins Friends in Japan." Ifill observed that,
"in a country where the courtship and wedding of an independent-minded woman to Crown Prince Naruhito held people in thrall for weeks, Hillary Rodham Clinton is also viewed -- favorably -- as an independent sort. At Waseda University today, the very mention of her name drew murmurs of approval. And when she slipped into a meeting hall, most in the otherwise reserved crowd craned for a look at her blond head bobbing in a sea of shiny black hair, and burst into applause."
In 1995, reporter Patrick Tyler wrote of Hillary Clinton,
"Speaking more forcefully on human rights than any American dignitary has on Chinese soil, Hillary Rodham Clinton catalogued a devastating litany of abuse that has afflicted women around the world today and criticized China for seeking to limit free and open discussion of women's issues here.
"'It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights," Mrs. Clinton told the Fourth World Conference on Women assembled here.
"'It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls,' Mrs. Clinton said, or 'when women and girls are sold into slavery or prostitution for human greed.'
"'It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small,' she continued, or 'when thousands of women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.'"
At first, it appeared that President-elect Obama was trying to bring in Senator Clinton as a "team of rivals" Secretary of State. But on deeper reflection, perhaps the Obama transition team is showing the discipline the campaign showed. If global women's rights is an issue, which it most certainly is, Senator Clinton is matched by no one in her past words and deeds in advance of this cause. And she has the bona fides to match any other contender on foreign policy issues not related to human rights. To pick her would send a message indeed: that the U.S. is a leader on women's rights across the world.