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Linda Cunningham: Hillary Clinton has the experience, skills to be president

Oh, for heaven’s sake, you are not asking the woman to be your prom date. You’re asking her to be President of the United States.

What do you care whether Hillary Clinton smiles, gets her hair done or stays married to Bill? You don’t. You’re just — as my dad would say — bumping your gums.

Knock it off. The former secretary of state and U.S. senator is not your date, mate, mother or your girl-group buddy. She’s not your Nana and she’s not going to kiss your boo-boo and give you a cuddle.

What is wrong with us that we demand women political candidates (and assorted other business bosses) go all chief-cook-bottle-washer-bed-mate-fashion-plate?

Don’t be telling me, either, that the men candidates get the same. I gar-ron-tee you that we find Bernie Sanders’ rumpled fustiness (look it up) endearing. We smile benignly when he shuffles up to the podium. Good ol’ Bernie. Just a regular guy.

And Donald Trump? The man’s a walking, talking caricature and we seemingly can’t get enough. That hair, those lips, those hands. Yeah, how about those hands? If Hillary were talking about her body parts, we’d have a collective, national stroke. No lady would ever, well, you know.

I am, as you can surely tell, at the end of my tether. One more tug like “You won. Smile,” and I’m going to climb so far up on my feminist soapbox that you’ll hear me over the Blue Angels getting ready to roar for Key West’s annual air show April 2-3.

The woman who won the Florida presidential primary March 15 is inches away from securing the Democratic nomination for president. She’s spent so many years in the public spotlight that there can’t be a mole on her backside that hasn’t been discovered.

She’s performed admirably as a senator and as secretary of state. She did the First Lady thing darn near coloring inside the Jackie O lines (well, except for that health care bungle.)

That’s just it. Hillary Clinton has a track record, complete with catastrophic slips and falls from which she dusted off, slapped on a Band-Aid and kept going.

She and Bill reared a sane, intelligent, competent and productive kid, who then made the Clintons grandparents. You try living your life on stage. Trust me, you’ll forget and pick your nose or frown because you’ve got a screeching headache at exactly the wrong time. Snap and you’ve gone viral.

My dad, who died two years ago, was a Hillary Clinton supporter even before 2008. He followed her career, applauded her successes and wished her a speedy recovery when she stumbled, physically or politically. He was distraught when that philandering junkyard dog forced her into the public role of “stand-by spouse,” leaving little room for private healing.

“Why,” ask my millennial nieces and nephews, “was Grandpa such a Hillary supporter?” They, like most who knew him, would have bet their money on him championing whomever the Republicans put forth. He didn’t. He was in Hillary’s camp from the beginning. So why? I talked to him often about the whys, and I know he’d say the same today. Here goes:

  • This is a global world. She’s got exceptional feet-on-the-street, international experience. No one has the depth and breadth of foreign policy expertise that Clinton brings to the table. Yes, there have been missteps. There have been successes as well. Live long enough and we’ll all screw up.
  • We need big picture and strategic thinkers and Clinton can do both. She believes in collaborative, community ventures that make a difference. She learned a lot of hard knock lessons battling that first health care legislation when her husband was president. It was a good idea; she had a plan. She didn’t execute it well. She learned.
  • We need a collaborative pragmatist in the White House to work with a divided, paralyzed Congress. Clinton doesn’t have the warm fuzzy charm of her husband. Instead, she has the tough skin of a weathered campaigner and she’ll work across party lines to do what’s right for the group, at the expense of the “do it for me” individualism that has all but shut down representative government by the majority.
  • She’s not a winger — right or left. My dad was never a fan of hardliners. He wanted his politicians to do the right things and reach a collaborative middle ground by working through the extremes. Clinton will govern from the center left, a political position more in sync with the fiscally conservative, socially liberal GenXers and millennials, some of whom at the moment, are having a fling with Sanders.
  • And, she survived Bill. Dad would never end a political conversation about Hillary Clinton without “she survived Bill.” Honestly, I have no idea how he felt about the former president. I do know Dad believed that anyone who could take on Bill Clinton and live to run for president herself was someone he’d support.

Not once did Dad ever mention that Hillary Clinton ought to smile more or wear a different pair of shoes. I don’t think he even noticed.

***

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of KeyWestWatch Media, a digital media solutions company for small businesses. She and her dad often disagreed on politics, religion, education, child rearing, West Virginia and the weather. We never disagreed on Hillary Clinton. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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