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The Media Obsession With Hillary and Bill Clinton Continues

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Two, three or more major stories about Hillary and Bill Clinton are in the papers and on TV daily. The Hillary stories range from glowing to glowering. The NY Times has had a reporter assigned to the Hillary beat for more than a year. In a recent Washington Post column Fareed Zakaria writes about Hillary's hardest choice, "Clinton's great challenge will be to decide whether she represents change or continuity." In a NY Times story she is compared to John McCain and the reporter does a "Chicken little the sky is falling" piece on her poll numbers. The Washington Post running out of new things to say about Hillary has taken to writing stories about Bill's quest to be First Gentleman. The Nation says the media are suffering from Hillary Fatigue, yet they are still writing about her and dreaming up new things to say.

The interesting thing isn't the stories but the fact that media outlets are so obsessed with the Clintons clearly believing the public is too. Reporters writing pure speculation and general nonsense get it on the front page. Maybe the public is obsessed with them but it must be hoped if Hillary runs the stories will migrate to a discussion of issues and less of the "How much Hillary is paid for a speech" or whether "Bill is involved in strategy."

The poll number stories aren't new. From the day she became first lady of Arkansas to being appointed secretary of state, her poll numbers have swung wildly. When she is out of day-to- day politics her numbers are up and when the opposition is skewering her the numbers go down. So what? Zakaria is totally wrong about what her hardest choice will be. Hillary doesn't have to make a conscious decision about representing change or continuity. Rather she can talk about her vision for a better America and what she sees is going right with what she believes she can change for the future.

In her book Hard Choices, Clinton laid out foreign policy areas in which she is in lock-step with the president and some such as her recommendation to arm the Syrian opposition Obama chose not to follow. There is every reason to believe that Clinton will be nuanced in a campaign. It isn't simply a case of "with-em-or-agin-em," which is what reporters would like to see. Voters are smarter than that.

Hillary and Bill Clinton have been in the public eye since Hillary Rodham was the first student commencement speaker at Wellesley College in 1969 and when Bill ran for Congress in Arkansas in 1974. There isn't much new the press can find that we already don't know. Their marriage, with its ups and downs, has lasted longer than all those of their critics.

Hillary has always fought for universal health care and will benefit because many of the issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act will have been settled by the time she may announce. Then the recent Supreme Court decision on the Hobby Lobby case to which Hillary voiced strong disagreement allows her to point out the continuing war on women by five old Catholic men and the Republican Party candidates who support them.

Hillary will point out that a Democratic president, Barack Obama, saved the nation pulling it out of a deep recession. But she has shown an understanding that there is a long way to go before everyone is participating in the recovery. Bill will remind people of the state of the nation when he was president. We weren't at war and there were budget surpluses. But Hillary can share her vision for change and she has acknowledged and shown an understanding that we are living in a different world than existed 20 years ago.

Stories like the one in the Washington Post about Bill having made over $100 million since leaving office has people like me thinking "that ain't bad for a good ole southern boy from Hope, Arkansas." For years no one has paid that much attention to the huge sums of money made by all the ex-presidents and other politicians or celebrities who make millions from their speeches. But Hillary suddenly out-performs and gets paid more than all of them and it's now a major story. Wow, a woman with views worth more and commanding more money than men.

Voters often elect wealthy people. John F. Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt with inherited wealth; and Ronald Reagan and both Bushes, who were millionaires when elected. Mitt Romney didn't lose because he was rich but rather because people felt he couldn't connect with those who weren't. Hillary Clinton doesn't have that problem. People know where she stands on issues and they know where she comes from and that neither she nor Bill was born with a silver spoon in their mouth. People have always respected her incredible work ethic from her earliest days at the Children's Defense Fund and her work for universal health care; equal pay for equal work for women; a great education for all children; and a world that will be more at peace tomorrow than it is today.

After 45 years in the public eye Hillary can still be the candidate of the future, which would finally include more women in power. She will break that final glass ceiling if she runs. Hillary is a grandmother building a better world for her grandchild, something no longer the sole province of grandfathers.

What Republicans fear is that voters will recognize how a brilliant and feeling woman in the White House will make a difference for them, their children, and their families. Hillary understands how that resonates here and around the world.

Winning the White House for a Democrat will be made easier when more women vote. Hillary can make that happen and her skirt-tail effect would impact elections up and down the spectrum. Some question whether she can create the excitement that will cause that to happen. The media's obsession with her and Bill show she can. When the campaign actually begins, we can only hope the media will focus on the issues that matter to people because that is what is important to the future of America.