The difference between Carly Fiorina’s and Hillary Clinton’s assent to prominence is an object lesson that compares that authentic and inauthentic models of feminism.
Carly earned everything she has gotten. She started as a secretary and worked her way up the corporate ladder — through twists and diversions — until she came out on top as the CEO of a Fortune 20 company, the largest tech company in the world.
Hillary advanced only in the wake left by her husband. He blazed the Clinton trail. She followed in his footsteps. Hillary left law school with high hopes. Hired by the House Judiciary Committee to pursue the Watergate investigation and Nixon’s impeachment. But her misconduct — purloining documents the Committee needed — led to her dismissal. After she flunked the DC bar, top legal jobs were barred to her.
Lacking other options, she followed Bill to Fayetteville, Arkansas and began a lifetime of following the furrows her husband plowed. Bill was teaching at the University of Arkansas Law School and he got Hillary a job there.
After Bill lost his 1974 race for Congress, he migrated to Little Rock to run for Attorney General in 1976. Hillary followed him. She searched for a job but only landed one at the Rose Law Firm — Arkansas’ most prestigious — after Bill was elected the top legal official in the state. She labored as an associate until Bill became governor and, presto, she made partner.
Would Hillary have been chosen to lead the health care reform effort in 1993 if Bill were not the president? Would her path to the New York Senate seat have been smoothed — with no primary in this totally blue state in which she had never lived — if Bill was not pulling the strings in the White House?
And, after Hillary lost her presidential race in 2008, would Obama have appointed her as Secretary of State? Or was his decision influenced by his need to keep Bill and Hillary on the reservation. Leaving them outside the Administration would have subjected him to eight years of second guessing and fire from within his party. As LBJ said, it’s better to have someone inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in.
The self-evident answer to all these questions is obvious: Hillary only moved up because Bill led the way.
Carly, like most American women, had no such luck. Nor did she make her name in the field of politics, where advancement rarely come from objective performance assessments. Rather, she made it in the corporate world, historically the last to accord women their due.
At this writing, we do not know if Ted Cruz will be sufficiently successful in his pursuit of the nomination to bring Carly in with him. But it is obvious that Carly Fiorina would make a great vice president. On her own. Like she’s always done.
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