Claire Black: Hillary Clinton is worth the wait

Chosen one: Clinton answers questions after a keynote speech at the UN. Picture: Getty
Chosen one: Clinton answers questions after a keynote speech at the UN. Picture: Getty
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TODAY is the day. It’s been a long time coming. Some might say decades, delayed mainly by a saxophone-playing philanderer with more Southern charm than self-restraint. (No wonder she allegedly hit him in the head with a book). Hillary Clinton is running for president.

I know, tweet or no tweet, it’s been the worst kept secret in global politics. The offices in Brooklyn were rented ages ago, the chat about wanting to spend more time with her new grandchild, while sweet, seemed less than entirely convincing. Although Clinton hasn’t always been totally credible when put on the spot, when she said that she didn’t want to “stay at home and bake cookies”, her words rang absolutely true.

A Yale-educated lawyer who has now as well as having been first lady, served eight years as a US senator and four as US secretary of state, is a political animal to her very core. And after losing a bruising campaign to Barack Obama back in 2008 we now know that Clinton is ready to launch her newest attempt to become the first female leader of the free world. Good.

The antipathy towards Clinton typified by a baying right-wing media in the States has long baffled me. It’s not that there aren’t issues – there are. Most recently about a whole load of deleted emails but before that about financial arrangements and hawkish foreign policy instincts. There was even a glowing book review of a recent offering by Henry Kissinger. Ouch. But show me a mainstream politician who comes without baggage. At least with Clinton there’s good stuff too. And I don’t just mean that video showing her dancing and drinking a beer in a bar in Cartagena, Colombia, on a night off after a diplomatic summit.

Nope, what I’m thinking of is that pioneering speech at the 1995 World Conference on Women during which the then First Lady asserted boldly and baldly: “It is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.” Hear hear. Alas, the UN secretary general’s report issued last month on the progress that’s been made since that speech makes for grim reading. More than one in three women experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetimes. One in ten under the age of 20 is subjected to “forced sexual acts”. In more than 30 countries it remains legal for men to beat their wives.

So as teeth are gnashed and the wailing rings out about Clinton, I think I’ll probably just feel glad that someone is in the race who cares about what half of humankind endures. And if she wins then all eyes will be upon her to see what she will do to end it.

Even my misgivings about how she stood by her man, when it looked like ambition had trumped self-respect, have faded. The recent resurgence of Monica Lewinsky hasn’t hurt either. Wouldn’t it be great if Clinton ends up in the White House and Lewinsky completes her resurrection out of shame. What a delightful coda. What a message that might send.

Too much too young?

WHEN I was 11, I was only just past playing with My Little Ponies. I mean really, only just. So the announcement that under a Labour government children will be given individual careers advice from that tender age makes me feel a bit sad.

It’s not that I don’t admire their aim. The idea is that by making sure all children are given information about higher education and training and apprenticeships then no matter their background they will at least know in what direction they need to be facing in order to succeed.

Makes sense. I remember doing a kind of computerised career profile when I was about 13 – it told me to be an English teacher. I was jealous of my vertically challenged pal who was advised to be a jockey.

I remember too the feeling when I was filling out my university application form and trying to work out which one might be best for me. Being the first in my family to go to university I was at best guessing. It worked out, but a bit more help would’ve been welcome. But 11? I look at my son who is not quite two and think less than ten years until he’s got to be thinking about his future, making the right choices. Why don’t we just go the whole hog and throw in a pension consultation while he’s at it? But what about the My Little Ponies?

Gearing up for Perkins

SUE Perkins is the bookies’ favourite to replace Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear. Bombastic, idiotic, sexist, racist man beloved of millions to be replaced by funny, wry, clever lesbian. Talk about unexpected.

I’ve never even seen Perkins behind the wheel of a car. When you start to think about it, maybe it would work – instead of Clarkson offending every nation as he travels you’d have, on the basis of her Mekong River documentary, Perkins giggling her way through her journeys and treating everyone with respect.

Yip, I’m starting to really rather like this. My only stipulation? Mary Berry for Stig. «