The sight of former president Bill Clinton wiping away tears of joy while standing silently behind his wife as she was making her victory speech in the 2000 Senate elections in New York may appear a little melodramatic for some. However, when one considers the sacrifices and extreme loyalty that Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton has shown to her husband over the previous 26 years, that gesture suddenly makes all the sense in world.
Secretary Clinton’s ascension to Senator, and thereafter, Secretary of State, is not something all that surprising for those that knew her, considering what a gifted child, student and political operative Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton was.
Born in Cook County and raised in suburban Park Ridge just outside of Chicago, Secretary Clinton grew up in a loving middle class family. Her early years were shaped by her Goldwater-Republican Navy veteran and business owner father and his tremendous work ethic, balanced against her mother’s Democratic leanings and harsh childhood.
At an age where young girls and boys were still too preoccupied with watching cartoons on TV, young Hillary was already busy demonstrating her leadership abilities and initiative with backyard carnivals and cookie and food drives for charity. When others her age were engrossed with the challenges of school and growing up, young Hillary was busy with the post-election canvassing of Chicago’s south side for the Republican Party. When children tread lightly around their parents and elders, she was engaged in delightfully spirited political debates with her family during dinner.
Her star continues to shine brightly at Wellesley, where her commencement address drew a seven-minute long standing ovation, and at Yale, where she was paid to intern at Washington every summer. She was already an experienced Democratic aide before even graduating from Yale, and was headhunted to be part of the Watergate impeachment inquiry team counseling House Democrats months after finishing college.
She was never a radical, beatnik or hippie, but neither was she a middle-of-the-road moderate. She is, above all, an idealist – an intelligent, disciplined, driven and practical idealist. Despite her image of a strong and uncompromising woman, people who she’s worked with reveal her to be a polite, considerate, consultative, and perhaps most surprisingly, religious individual. The latter perhaps is due to the influence of her mother and grandmother, both strong-willed Methodist women. She is also an exceptional public speaker, and can speak for an extended period of time without notes – done without pauses and filler syllables.
Over the years, many negative epithets have been used by the press and political opponents to describe her. As many have learned however, pigeonholing or underestimating Secretary Clinton often comes at a great cost.
The key to defeating Secretary Clinton lies in winning over her core support base - women, baby boomers and minorities. Meanwhile, her weakest demographic is the millennials, and this is clearly reflected in her underwhelming support online. And yet, one gets the impression that her opponents simply do not get this very simple equation. Will this prove costly in the end?
William Floyd Weld is a man with a long and storied heritage. An ancestor was a Sheriff of London in the 14th century, three more were among the Pilgrims on board the Mayflower during its voyage to the New World, one was a founding donor of Harvard, another signed the Declaration of Independence, one more fought valorously in the Civil War – we could literally fill an entire page with the exploits of the Welds. If New England had a royal family, then the Welds must be sitting pretty close to the throne. In fact, the clan is one of the most influential among the Boston Brahmin.
It would’ve been so easy for Gov. Weld to simply coast along on his family name and wealth. But Gov. Weld was a man of principles, and for better or worse, he was also a political maverick. He was probably born a card-carrying Republican, but he never quite fit in with the party.
A couple of years after graduating from Harvard Law School (where else?) with a law degree in 1970, he served as a counsel with the House Judiciary Committee in Washington D.C. in preparation for impeachment proceeding against his own party leader, President Richard Nixon.
He returned to Massachusetts after that, and was very quickly promoted to District Attorney. He went on a rampage against corruption in the city, and even took down the Mayor of Boston. He was also a scourge of the banking industry. Gov. Weld’s record of 109 convictions out of 111 cases might have been a record of sorts - if only someone was keeping score.
The Reagan administration took notice of the hotshot lawyer, and President Ronald Reagan appointed him to head the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. For two years, Gov. Weld supervised all federal government investigations and prosecutions, in an out of the country. But he abruptly resigned in March 1988, and a few months later, testified in Congress against his boss, U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, who was facing corruption charges.
Less than two years later, Weld ran for Governor of Massachusetts. The state GOP was slightly uncomfortable with the pro-marijuana decriminalization, pro-LGBT and pro-choice upstart (there were even reports that he was a member of the ACLU), but his socially liberal views proved popular with the Democratic base – so they threw their support behind him. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Gov. Weld remarked "On crime issues, I'm Attila the Hun […] There's no room to my right." It certainly helped that his competitor, John R. Silber, president of Boston University, infuriated his base with offensive comments about women and the LGBT community.
It wasn’t really a surprise when Weld won the election and became the first Republican Governor of Massachusetts in 25 years. Four years later, Gov. Weld won reelection by securing an incredible 71% of the vote – almost unheard of in modern top-level politics – especially in a state where Democrats outnumbered Republicans by four to one.
His new found confidence even saw him trying to remove the pro-life stance from the Republican platform during the 1996 Republican National Convention in San Diego. He failed, and his star dimmed a little. In 1996, Gov. Weld ran against heavyweight John Kerry for a seat in the U.S Senate, but that proved to be a bridge just a little too far.
In 1997, President Bill Clinton nominated Gov. Weld as U.S Ambassador to Mexico. But there were strong resistance from the Senate against his appointment. There were loud rumors that former Attorney General Ed Meese had a hand in it. Regardless, Gov. Weld didn’t even receive a hearing.
Gov. Weld then disappeared from the limelight, and aside from a failed run for Governor of New York in 2005, he only reappeared briefly in 2008 to endorse the then-Senator Barack Obama for president.
But he’s back now, as the Libertarian Party’s nominee for vice-president no less, and one suspects that this has always been the party of his heart.