National Journal correspondent-at-large Major Garrett used Hillary Clinton's Hard Choices book tour to whitewash Clinton's long career championing women's rights and leadership, baselessly accusing Clinton of focusing on women's issues for purely selfish reasons.
In a June 10 column Garrett attacked Hillary Clinton as selfishly obsessed with the notion “that the presidential glass ceiling” is exclusively hers “to break,” and accused Clinton of sitting on a “self-built pedestal of inevitability.” Garrett challenged Clinton to “do something interesting” and advised her to seize her “sexism opportunity,” as “the glass ceiling halts the progress of all women -- not just yours”:
Start by ending the constricting and unpalatable obsession that the presidential glass ceiling is yours and yours alone to break. It isn't. The longer you pretend otherwise, the longer your road to the White House will become. The glass ceiling halts the progress of all women -- not just yours.
But Garrett's critique ignores Clinton's longstanding history as a champion of women's rights worldwide as well as her advocacy for all women to break the glass ceiling.
Most recently, Clinton cheered the opportunity of a female president in a June 4 interview with People, saying, “I'm certainly in the camp that says we need to break down that highest, hardest glass ceiling in American politics.” Clinton stressed that despite her desire to see a female president, she hasn't yet made her “own decision about what I think is right for me,” underscoring her belief that she does not necessarily have to be the first woman president.
In April, Hillary Clinton launched “No Ceilings,” a series of conversations that focus on professional discrimination and encourage women to break the glass ceiling.
Clinton also highlighted the importance of having a female president of the United States in a December interview with Barbara Walters. Admitting that although she did not know who the first female president may be, Clinton promoted a number of capable female senators “on both sides of the aisle” and asserted:
CLINTON: It matters because we have half the population that has given so much to building this country, to making it work, and of course I want to see a woman in the White House. Because, if I look at my friends and former colleagues who are now in the Senate, it was the women senators on both sides of the aisle who finally broke the fever over the government shutdown and debt limit debate. They have been working across party lines, and we need more of that.
Clinton again distinguished her desire for a female president of the United States from her own potential candidacy in June, saying:
CLINTON: Let me say this, hypothetically speaking, I really do hope that we have a woman president in my lifetime.
And whether it's next time or the next time after that, it really depends on women stepping up and subjecting themselves to the political process, which is very difficult.
Clinton's 2008 concession speech coined her infamous phrase, “Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it.” In her speech, Clinton referenced the pride she felt as a woman running for president but acknowledged the “barriers and biases” still faced by “millions of women,” saying, “I want to build an America that respects and embraces the potential of every last one of us.”
Garrett's dismissal of Clinton's work promoting women's equality worldwide ignores the fact that women are profoundly underrepresented in America's legislature.
According to The Nation, America now ranks 98th in the world for percentage of women in its national legislature, down from 59th in 1998, and the “percentage of women holding statewide and state legislative offices is less than 25 percent.” According to FairVotes' Representation 2020 Project, “at the current glacial rate of progress, women won't achieve fair representation for nearly 500 years.” But, as The Nation points out, “the United States can't wait that long”:
Having more women in office not only upholds democratic values of “fairness” and “representative government,” but various studies have also shown that the presence of more women in legislatures makes a significant difference in terms of the policy that gets passed.
Emily's List reports that 86 percent of Americans think the country is ready for a woman president, and “a woman in the oval office would prove there is literally no position too high, or too important, or too powerful for young girls and women to compete for.”
This headline has been updated for clarity.