While last Friday marked the end of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as U.S. Secretary of State, it also signaled the resurgence of speculation over the next act of her career in government.
Host Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel last Sunday took a look at the root cause for this speculation, and why people won’t let Clinton take a nap before deciding her next steps. Joy Reid, managing editor for the theGrio, noted this angst may harken back to the 2008 election. “The intensity of that desire is a lot I think about women’s pent-up desire for a woman president. They felt like it was a woman president’s time and then sort of the black president thing overstepped it,” said Reid.
Others say the media is to blame. After Clinton appeared on CBS’ 60 Minutes last week with President Obama, the “medigasm” over her 2016 plans was unleashed. The frenzy picked up with Newsweek‘s cover story that named her, “The Most Powerful Women in American History.”
Even before Clinton had stepped down, there were already two political PACs that had filed with the Federal Elections Commission to back any future—yet unannounced—presidential run. There was also the fact that as she resigned Clinton’s popularity was high among Americans for the job she had done at the State Department.
Time and again, though, when Clinton has been asked about her future political aspirations she has declined to answer the question with a direct and defined answer. And quite frankly, why should she? She said it best in last week’s global town hall, “I am looking forward to finishing up my tenure as Secretary of State and then catching up on about 20 years of sleep deprivation.”
After all, Clinton has traveled the most in that position having flown nearly one million miles. As the president himself declared, “These are not frequent-flier miles. She doesn’t get discounts.” (Is sleep too much to ask?)
At stake is much more than Mrs. Clinton’s airline discounts. If we are so worried about a woman becoming president, or more women in elected office then we should make sure that organizations supporting them stay open. Last Monday, the White House Project closed its doors after having spent nearly the last 15 years promoting women as candidates for elected office and possibly the presidency closed its doors. Their home page contains their “goodbye letter” which says, “We are sorry to inform you that due to the challenging economic climate The White House Project has had to close its doors. But, our work will continue as it transitions to other organizations.”
Salon’s Rebecca Traister, author of “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” lamented the specific challenges and broad aim of the now defunct project. “The White House Project had a challenge which was that it was not a partisan organization. So especially in very divided partisan times, raising money to train women in both parties wasn’t necessarily going to draw the kind of funds perhaps you know like lots of partisan organizations.”
Still, as Cycle co-host Steve Kornacki noted Tuesday in Salon, there are at least four women who seem to be at least curious about the ’16 race and in position to wage viable campaigns—including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is apparently considering a presidential bid in 2016. Clinton has mainstreamed the notion of women running for president, even if she chooses to rest and not run again herself.
See the second half of our Hillary Clinton conversation below.