This is a headline I never expected to see in the New York Times:
Hillary Clinton Faces Test of Record as Women’s Advocate
You know that it is time to hit the pause button on Hillary Clinton’s inexorable march to her coronation as the women’s candidate when the New York Times starts examining her credentials.
The reporter on the piece, which appeared yesterday, is Amy Chozick, a New York Times national political reporter, who has “a focus on covering Hillary Clinton,” according to her website. I can’t imagine the Clinton campaign in waiting enjoyed waking up to these paragraphs yesterday from Ms. Chozick:
Mrs. Clinton’s glide path to a likely April announcement that she will seek the presidency was built around women’s issues. Advancing women has been her central life’s work, as she and her admirers say proudly; she made it a priority as secretary of state and focused on it as a philanthropist. But that focus also allowed Mrs. Clinton, who played down her gender in 2008, to frame her second attempt at the White House in what could be one way to make it special and new: as a shot at history for her and for all women.
And for someone who has so long been lampooned, and demonized on the right, as overly calculating, playing up her gender as a strength would also allow her to demonstrate her nurturing, maternal — and newly grandmotherly — side to voters whom she may have left cold in the past.
Even her most strident critics could not have predicted that Mrs. Clinton would prove vulnerable on the subject.
First of all, those of us who see women's issues as something other than a slogan behind which to enlarge government could have predicted that Mrs. Clinton would be vulnerable on this subject.
Second, as delighted as I am personally on behalf of Mrs. Clinton’s being grandmother to Baby Charlotte (nice name, don’t you think?), I don’t really think we should elect a president because she is “nurturing,” (ever how implausible a “nurturing” Hillary Clinton seems to those of us who remember her masterful tactics aimed at the destruction of those lesser women who didn't go to Wellesley but nevertheless claimed to have been sexual targets of Mrs. Clinton's husband). Just as I didn’t care for GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s emphasis on his being a father, I don’t care to have a “nurturing” mother in the White House.
But of course the thing to note here is that the New York Times—the media outlet that sets the tone for the mainstream press—is even questioning the very basis of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign—that she is woman. But the New York Times does raise an issue that, as a woman, I regard as important: the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation has accepted millions upon millions of dollars from governments that make life hellish for women, whose human rights are not recognized by these governments.
But the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation has accepted tens of millions of dollars in donations from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Algeria and Brunei — all of which the State Department has faulted over their records on sex discrimination and other human-rights issues.
The department’s 2011 human rights report on Saudi Arabia, the last such yearly review prepared during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure, tersely faulted the kingdom for “a lack of equal rights for women and children,” and said violence against women, human trafficking and gender discrimination, among other abuses, were all “common” there.
Saudi Arabia has been a particularly generous benefactor to the Clinton Foundation, giving at least $10 million since 2001, according to foundation disclosures. At least $1 million more was donated by Friends of Saudi Arabia, co-founded by a Saudi prince.
The Clinton Foundation is set to issue its “No Ceilings” report today. Nope, the title does not refer to any “no ceilings” policy on foreign donations but to the foundation’s report on the status of women in the world. The New York Times story is probably not the backdrop the Clintons anticipated for the release. As Chozick wrote yesterday:
It was supposed to be a carefully planned anniversary to mark one of the most important and widely praised moments in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s political career — and to remind the country, ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, about her long record as a champion for the rights of women and girls.
Instead, as Mrs. Clinton commemorates her 1995 women’s rights speech in Beijing in back-to-back events in New York, she finds herself under attack for her family foundation’s acceptance of millions of dollars in donations from Middle Eastern countries known for violence against women and for denying them many basic freedoms.
It is telling that a little-remembered, outside of Hillaryland, speech in Beijing is deemed one of Mrs. Clinton’s crowning achievements on behalf of women. Sometimes a speech makes a difference and changes the world. This 1995 speech wasn’t one of those speeches.
And the one woman who was poised to benefit materially from that speech is now forced to defend her record as the standard bearer for women.