COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., September 4, 2016 — More e-mails belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were released, further illuminating the pay-to-play situation arising from the interlinkages between the Clinton family’s foundation and America’s foreign policy apparatus, among other errors in judgement.
Last week Brazil’s Senate voted to remove President Dilma Rousseff over her corruption scandals.
Rousseff and Clinton are two powerful women in politically and culturally distinct countries. Rousseff finally ran out of friends and protectors and was shown the door. Clinton continues to wear her Kevlar pantsuit, with wealthy supporters still carrying her water despite the steady drip of damning revelations from her tenure as secretary of state.
While Rousseff and Clinton fall far short of being honest servants of the countries they sought to lead, two powerful women were clearly up to their countries’ top job: U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.
It would be hard to argue that these two leaders weren’t patriotic and rock solid, as they put the needs of their nations ahead of their own.
Golda Meir, 1898-1978, was a teacher, kibbutznik, stateswoman and politician. She was elected Prime Minister of Israel on March 17, 1969 after serving as Labor Minister and Foreign Minister. The world’s fourth and Israel’s first and only woman to serve as elected head of government, she has been described as the “Iron Lady” of Israeli politics.Former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, the founder of Israel, used to call Meir “the best man in the government.” She was often portrayed as the “strong-willed, straight-talking, grey-bunned grandmother of the Jewish People.”
Meir was one of 24 signatories, including two women, of the Israel Declaration of Establishment on May 14, 1948. She later recalled, “After I signed, I cried. When I studied American history as a schoolgirl and I read about those who signed the U.S. Declaration of Independence, I couldn’t imagine these were real people doing something real. And there I was sitting down and signing a declaration of establishment.”
As prime minister, Meir went to Egypt to make a peace settlement in 1971, but in l973, she rallied Israeli forces to repel an attack by Egypt and Syria.
Meir had her detractors for her outspoken toughness, but author Letty Cottin Pogrebin admired her legacy.
In the pantheon of illustrious national leaders there exists an even more elite subgroup, female heads of state, among whom stands one Jewish woman: Golda Meir … Pioneer, visionary, risk-taker … eloquent advocate, she was an activist of the first order, one of the founders of the Jewish state, a woman whose life story is as central to the mythos of modern Zionism as that of Theodor Herzl, Chaim Weizmann, and David Ben-Gurion.
Presidents and kings found her willfulness charming, while her grandmotherly appearance and plain-spoken style endeared her to ordinary people around the world. In her time, Golda was as admired as Queen Elizabeth and as well known by her first name as Madonna is today.
Margaret Thatcher, 1925–2013, was a British stateswoman, Conservative Party leader, and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1975 to 1990. She was the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century and the first woman to hold the office.
In office, she discarded feminism as an obsolete ideology. “The battle for women’s rights has largely been won,” she said. “I hate those strident tones we hear from some women’s libbers.”
Thatcher’s time in office left behind a solid legacy. When Argentina invaded the British Falkland Islands, Thatcher successfully defended them. Working closely with President Ronald Reagan, a fellow conservative, she helped end the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
Though her politics were divisive in both her home country and abroad, Thatcher’s resolve and temerity earned her the respect of opponents. She’d say, “I am not a consensus politician, I am a conviction politician.”
Other Thatcherisms included, “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” “I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”
Margaret Thatcher was not alone in making pithy pronouncements. Meir, too, had a few choice sayings: “Don’t be so humble—you are not that great.” “We do not rejoice in victories. We rejoice when a new kind of cotton is grown and when strawberries bloom in Israel.” “A leader who doesn’t hesitate before he sends his nation into battle is not fit to be a leader.”
Rousseff’s ouster is too recent to draw any historical lessons, but she left a a stained legacy. She was accused of fiddling with public accounts to hide a budget deficit, but her real sin was to drive Brazil’s economy into the ground while stubbornly refusing to work with Brazil’s congress.
According to Latin American editor Lucia Newman, “Even one of her closest allies told me that she never understood that politics requires listening to everyone, even your adversaries, achieving a minimum consensus, and cutting deals. Dilma never, ever did that. She was stubborn to a fault. She was harsh and often arrogant. She never considered making concessions or negotiating. She even turned members of our own party against her, along with the Brazilian people.”
In assessing presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the voters have to decide what kind of politician she is. What will her legacy be, whether she ever achieves her goal of being America’s first woman president?
We can view Dilma Rousseff, Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meier in the rearview mirror of history. In Clinton’s case, the past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past.
Clinton’s living past includes newly released FBI tapes of her interview about the e-mail scandal. They reveal a woman who may be arrogant, forgetful to a fault, or simply duplicitous. Perhaps she is all of the above. Is putting a feminist notch on America’s belt worth embarking on a four- or eight-year fact-finding mission?
The advancement of women to positions of high power must reflect the serious world in which we are living. They, no less than men holding positions of power, must be up to the job and able to deal with global turmoil, Islamist terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. They must be great communicators and must always put their countries’s best interests first.
But come November, as voters assess Hillary Clinton’s leadership potential, it may be more a case of “Res ipsa loquitur”: The thing speaks for itself.