Hillary as Salieri
Andrew Sullivan is pleased that Hillary Clinton “did all she needed to do” in yesterday’s concession speech and feels a bit sorry for her.
I think history will show that she didn’t quite have the talent to do it on her own steam, but that she made it much easier for another woman to become president one day. Her two biggest problems: She first married a man who was her political superior and was then defeated by one. She is a very talented politician but it was her fate to find her career hemmed in by two even more talented ones: Bill and Barack. She made up for it all with enormous hard work, diligence and ruthlessness. At any other moment, she would have won. But this is history and politics at the highest level. You cannot defeat such a moment if you are a Salieri. And she had to deal with two Mozarts.
Certainly, she was outshone by Bill for most of their marriage and by Obama in this campaign. But she’s no Salieri, who was extraordinarily accomplished in his own right. She, on the other hand, hitched her wagon to another and has no notable success not directly attributable to her more illustrious husband.
Hillary Rodham showed great promise, certainly. She was at the top of her class and was student government president at Wellesley, did well at Yale Law, and was universally regarded as possessed of a keen intellect and leadership skill. Still, she decided early on that Bill had a clearer path to greatness and became a background player.
She entered elective politics for the first time at the age of 52, running for the Senate while Bill was still president. She was no Lurleen Wallace, running as a surrogate for her husband, but it’s simply inconceivable that someone with her resume, having moved to New York for the first time mere months before declaring for office, would have been taken seriously, let alone elected.
Her claim of having far greater experience than her upstart opponent, likewise, was only plausible because it was widely presumed that she was a major partner in her husband’s administrations in Arkansas and the White House. Otherwise, she’s an older, less charismatic, less accomplished Obama.