07/03/2013 10:11 am ET

When Hillary Was Already Hillary


In politics as in show business, certain public figures attract meanings beyond reason. Often, at the generating core of that vague penumbra of guesswork and exaggeration, lurks a blunt, explicit question, like: “What is a modern woman?” The cloud emanated by such a crude, hidden core is tangential to the person's actual character and work. Something like that pervades what may be a culminating stage—running for president, or not—for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I use the full three names advisedly. I first noticed her when she was Hillary Rodham, well before she met Bill Clinton. It was 1969, at Wellesley College, where Hillary was a senior and I was a freshman professor teaching poetry classes. The famous commencement address she gave that year was the beginning of her story as a national figure—but even before then, she was already the object of speculation and the bright light to which theories flew.

Read more on Salon