It’s standard operating procedure for candidates to issue a defining biography coincident with their election cycle hopes. But what candidate, other than Hillary Clinton, has been the subject of a children’s book about their inspiring, intrepid and barrier-breaking life?
Written for pre-school and early elementary school children, “Hillary Rodham Clinton — Dreams Taking Flight” by Kathleen Krull (Simon & Schuster, 2015), starts with her parents’ support for her to be fearless and achieve her dreams, and the dreams of the disadvantaged.
She was never afraid the show her intelligence in school and lead. As a young teen growing up in suburban Chicago, she attended a Martin Luther King rally, even got to meet him, and through church outreach activities became inspired to the cause of social justice, human rights, and to eventually study government.
At Wellsley College, she was the first student to ever give the commencement speech, which had people clapping for seven minutes. Hillary decided to attend law school, and fought discouragement in the application process as a woman seeking a place in a traditionally male profession. Her legal career initially focused on helping poor, neglected and abused children.
As first lady of Arkansas, she used politics as a way to help children. As a new mother, she encouraged her daughter to dare to dream as well. As first lady of the US, she worked to advance the rights of children and women around the world. As Senator from New York, 2008 presidential candidate, and later U.S. Secretary of State, she really took flight serving all Americans (and global citizens) to advance democracy, economic opportunities and freedoms.
There have been many travails and disappointments in her career. But after every set-back, she never gave up, and always continued to look for new solutions.
As a presidential candidate in 2016, we’ll see if she can break the ultimate glass ceiling and become the nation’s first female head of state.
The rest of her story as Secretary of State (2009-13) is chronicled by Hillary in “Hard Choices” (Simon & Schuster, 2014), a companion read for adults interested in a deep dive into her challenges and triumphs as the nation’s top diplomat.
Hillary’s approach as President Obama’s chief foreign policy advisor was to deploy “smart power,” utilizing the right mix of tools — diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal, cultural — suited to each situation to further the national interests of the U.S. Countries, NGOs and international organizations are referred to as “partners,” not competitors or antagonists, setting the tone for the smart approach.
Visiting 110 nations (a record for any Secretary of State), her memoir aptly illustrates her skills in mediating regional conflicts in the volatile Middle East, re-setting the relationship with Russia, and the pivot to Asia to shepherd the evolving partnership with China. Along the way, she works to achieve free and fair trade, promote American business interests and jobs, seeks international consensus on climate change action plans, advocates unfettered access to the internet especially for citizens living in oppressive regimes, and a renewed emphasis on human rights. All of these issues are related to the enhancement of national security and economic growth in both developed and emerging countries around the world.
The attack on the Benghazi, Libya diplomatic post in September 2012 is dealt with straight on. Responsible for the State Department’s 270 locations around the world and the safety of more 70,000 total employees, she expresses the need to balance ever-present dangerous risks of physical locations abroad with the benefits of direct engagement instead of leaving a void which could further hurt US and global security.
In my view, the best advice she offers in terms of solving problems and achieving results is an aphorism that parents are well advised to follow in life, and also share with their children:
“As a girl in Illinois, I played my share of softball, and one of the lessons that stuck with me was that if you try to only hit home runs, you’ll end up popping out more often than not. But if you also go for singles and doubles, even walks, they can add up to something bigger.”
Final words of wisdom from “Hard Choices” are very apropos for those engaged in any endeavor, whether as a parent, at work, or in any relationship:
“Never rest on your laurels. Never quit. Never stop working to make the world a better place. That’s our unfinished business.”
—by guest BookSmart blogger, Seth Petok