Girls Can Be Anything, Just Not President

hrc

Hillary Clinton at a rally in Cleveland, Ohio, the Sunday before the election. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

“She’s a good girl,” Betsy Ebeling, Hillary Clinton’s best friend since childhood, recently told me of Mrs. Clinton, whom she met in the sixth grade. “She works hard, she is loyal, she listens.”

I had met Ms. Ebeling in Chicago, along with a dozen more of Mrs. Clinton’s friends, whom I joined to watch the final presidential debate. At the time, I didn’t know what to make of the remark. Mrs. Clinton was certainly not a “girl” — and what makes a “good” girl anyway?

And yet, watching her concession speech on Wednesday morning, I suddenly understood.

Mrs. Clinton did what good girls — women — have to: She played by the rules.

She put her head down and worked hard, devoted her life to service, waited her turn, and never got angry (or at least never showed it). She made mistakes along the way, certainly — but she had the résumé, the qualifications, the stamina, and she didn’t lash out when those things were questioned. Mrs. Clinton took the high road, again and again: deflecting interruption after interruption, maintaining her momentum in the face of a man hovering over her, not responding when he called her “nasty” in front of millions of viewers.

And she continued to play by the rules as she took the stage for her concession speech on Wednesday. Calm and composed after a devastating defeat — and one in which she won the popular vote — Mrs. Clinton took the high road yet again, telling her supporters that they owed Mr. Trump “an open mind and the chance to lead,” and offering to help. She reminded her supporters that this wasn’t about her, it was about America. And she apologized — apologized! — for losing. Holding back tears, Mrs. Clinton told young women, “Nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.”

Leave a Reply