01.02.13

Hillary Angst

Washington is a wreck, and the fearless secretary of state seems like the only one with her head in the game. No wonder that medical scare left us with a case of the jitters.

Anxiety about Hillary Clinton’s health has had something of a reprieve with the news that her doctors expect a full recovery from a sinister-sounding blood clot near her brain.

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A couple of days ago CNN reported that Clinton’s head blood clot was not life-threatening.

Even so, the brief dread that it could be something worse sent panicky messages ricocheting throughout her enormous network of friends and admirers. Haunting memories returned of how her ambassador, Richard Holbrooke, fatally exhausted by grueling Af-Pak missions that his friends begged him to curtail, collapsed in her office two years ago and died days later from a ruptured aorta.

The idea of losing Hillary has seemed especially unbearable at this political moment. It’s as if she has become, literally, the ship of state. She stands for maturity, tenacity, and self-discipline at a time when everyone else in Washington seems to be, in more senses than one, going off a cliff—a parade of bickering, blustering, small-balled hacks bollixing up the nation’s business. She’s a caring executive too, and that takes its own emotional toll. What a disgrace that John Bolton and his goaty Republican ilk accused Her Magnificence of inventing a concussion to get out of testifying at the Benghazi hearings. Bolton is not fit to wipe her floor with his mustache.

Bill Clinton, talking about the need to financially empower wives and mothers in regressive countries, once remarked that women have “the responsibility gene.” No one has that gene more markedly than his wife. Her determination to defy fatigue and keep going beggars belief. On the eve of Thanksgiving, for instance, just when she’s about to wind up a trip with Obama to Cambodia and yearning to dive under a duvet in Chappaqua, the president sends her off instead to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo to arm-wrestle a Gaza ceasefire—which she duly delivers.

It’s not just Washington’s antics that make us value Hillary the Stoic more than ever. These are scary times. Everyone feels terrified of economic and societal volatility. The pace of change from destructive innovation and cutthroat global competition and demographic shifts and media proliferation is making us a nervous, increasingly medicated nation. We’re unsettled, too, by the crash of so many blue-chip people and corporations. Petraeus, Penn State, Barclays, the BBC—it’s hazardous to have a reputation these days.

Hillary has just been voted the most admired woman in America for the 17th time in 20 years. That’s why we should also tell her now, firmly, in unison, that it’s time to stop. Don’t be a heroine, Hillary! Give yourself a break!

In an era of quicksand, everyone is looking for a rock, and you’re one we depend on...