Hillary’s Political Education | Choice Moments | FRONTLINE
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Hillary’s Political Education | Choice Moments | FRONTLINE


♪ Baby love, my baby love… ♪ NARRATOR: In 1965,
Hillary Rodham arrived at Wellesley College: a Midwestern girl, a Methodist,
a fan of The Supremes. MAN:
This is the mid-1960s, so it’s really
before the great cultural shift in America. Hillary was not in any way,
shape, or form a radical. (protestors chanting) NARRATOR:
But as the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements
swept across college campuses, Hillary was changing. MAN:
She was experimenting. Not just in terms
of what kind of hair she wore or what her clothes were,
but what she was thinking, whether she was that old Midwestern Methodist girl
or something more rebellious. NARRATOR:
Hillary Rodham’s political education
began at home in suburban Chicago. There she was influenced
by her father’s politics. MARANISS: Hugh Rodham was
big, gruff, conservative, sort of thought of himself
as a rugged individualist type, a Goldwater supporter
in that era. GOLDWATER: Extremism
in the defense of liberty is no vice. NARRATOR:
Barry Goldwater had led a right wing takeover
of the Republican Party. WOMAN: She was fully steeped
in those ideas, and in order to please
her father, became a volunteer for Goldwater
in the ’64 election. Moderation in the pursuit
of justice is no virtue. WOMAN: We opened the Youth for
Goldwater office in Park Ridge. I mean,
that’s what your life was. It was Republicans, and there was Barry Goldwater. NARRATOR: But her views would be
challenged when she left home and went to the all-women’s
Wellesley College in the mid-1960s. MAN:
She is now living a life that is not dictated
by her parents but is affected by what’s
going on in America at the time. WOMAN: She was up
in front of the crowd, she was at the microphone
at some of these rallies. She began to be the person that people thought of
as the one who was leading us through these really very
turbulent, challenging times. NARRATOR:
Hillary would experience the turbulence first-hand
in August 1968 when she was home for the summer and tensions
over the Vietnam War erupted at the Democratic Convention
in downtown Chicago. EBELING: Here’s this convention
going on, right? And Hillary said,
“We have to go see it.” And she and I told our mothers that we were going
to the movies, and we drove my family’s
station wagon downtown, parked, I have no idea where we parked. I had never driven downtown. NARRATOR:
Thousands of Chicago police confronted anti-war protestors. (protestors shouting) As Betsy and Hillary
waded into the crowd, they saw an old
high school friend. EBELING: She was there
volunteering, patching up heads, and said, “You’ve got
to be aware of this and everything that’s going on.” It was chaotic, it was mayhem,
but it was also almost beautiful in its portrayal of, like,
opened up this road and said, “This is where you’re going,
and this is why.” NEWS ANNOUNCER:
The whole world is watching. EBELING: She knew she was going
to go back to Wellesley and she would find people
of like thinking, of “this war has to end.” REICH: She had become
much more political, as frankly had most of us. You couldn’t really go
through those years, the Civil Rights movement and the anti-Vietnam War
movement and all the tumult in America
and not be affected by it. NARRATOR:
At her graduation the next year, Hillary was chosen
by her classmates to be the first student
to ever deliver a commencement address
at Wellesley. But first, United States Senator
Edward Brooke would speak. BERNSTEIN: At the commencement,
Senator Edward Brooke, a revered figure for becoming the first black senator
from Massachusetts, and he gives a speech though that is really
kind of condescending. WANDERER:
Senator Brooke basically told us
everything was fine and that the people
who are protesting are kind of like
elite ne’er-do-wells. So I can remember sitting
in my seat, um, just fuming. I mean, this is my college
graduation and I am just fuming. And you know, all of us
were just ready to pop. NARRATOR: As Brooke spoke,
Hillary quickly drafted an unplanned rebuttal
to the Massachusetts senator. WANDERER: And all of a sudden,
I looked up and Hillary Rodham is
rising from her seat and walking to the podium. ANNOUNCER:
And it is a great pleasure to present to this audience
Ms. Hillary Rodham. WANDERER:
She looked fierce. I mean, she had something to say
and she was going to say it. CLINTON: I find myself
in a familiar position: that of reacting,
something that our generation has been doing
for quite a while now. WANDERER: And she began
with a complete, utterly articulate rebuttal of everything
Senator Brooke had said. CLINTON:
For too long, our leaders have viewed politics
as the art of the possible, and the challenge now
is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible
possible. We gave her a very,
very long standing ovation. NARRATOR: But some in the crowd
were less enthusiastic. WANDERER:
My grandfather, who was just a real curmudgeon, came up to me and said,
“Who was that?” So I turned to him and I said,
“Take a good look at her. She’s going to be president
of the United States someday.” And that shut him up. NARRATOR: The speech
would turn Hillary Rodham into a national celebrity. She was called
“a voice of her generation.” BERNSTEIN: Life Magazine
picks it up and profiles her, and suddenly she is emblematic
in some way of her generation, and she likes the attention. SHEEHY: That was probably
the first time that Hillary felt what it would be like
to be a political leader, and she thought then,
“Well, maybe I can someday be a larger figure
on the political stage.” MARANISS: I think she knew
exactly what she was doing. I think she knew that
she was stepping out. But that moment captured her and propelled her
into the public realm in a way that not that many
people of her generation were able to achieve.

30 Comments

  • remcat03

    That Wellesley classmate predicting that Hilary would be president some day … gives me chills. She was born to do this.
    Contrast this to Donald Trump's "Choice" Moment from PBS Frontline.

  • Meade Skelton

    Bernie Sanders is a left wing progressive, but at least with Bernie we know where we stand. Hillary is just whatever people want her to be, and that to me is far more dangerous.

  • japhygato

    To summarize a college senior got on a stage and spoke against a senator leading them to fifteen minutes of fame and hopes of grandeur. They doesn't make her presidential.

  • Tejas

    Well, … she never did become president, did she? But then again, she had to run against DJT and he wasn't exactly a pushover opponent. I'm inclined to think that confused her, but I'm certain her second loss bruised her ego much more than her first loss. I think she and Bill are to be pitied.

  • bluecollarlatin

    I've been a viewer of Frontline for many years and I admire their programs so much!!! Hillary Clinton, however, I have lost all faith or any hope!!!

  • Anomaly

    Hillary was an intellectual; well-read, articulate, soft-spoken and intelligent. But Americans went with Trump anyway. Why? Because he does represent the masses. He is utterly brainless, believes in nutty conspiracy theories, haven't read a proper book ever in his life. Some of the comments made by his own aides are revealing.

    Steve Bannon himself referred to Trump as a 11-year-old child and that "he was sick of being a wet nurse to a 71-year-old man.” Working with Trump is “like trying to figure out what a child wants”said White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh. “Morally unfit to be president,” “unethical” and “untethered to truth”—former FBI director James Comey, who also compared the US president to a mafia boss.

    And my personal favourite: “Less a person than a collection of terrible traits”, as described by Trump’s former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.

  • Freddy Ruelas

    She was in the trenches while Trump was sucking on a gold spoon. How the fuck does people like Jeremy J think she is bad corrupt maybe but bad no.

  • Mercedes Martin

    You don’t have to like her to recognize this woman is extremely smart & driven. She might not have been the candidate you wanted, but she is objectively qualified to be president. There were republicans I hated but I could concede they were qualified, they had the knowledge & character that a president should have when running the country. You knew they’d be competent and smart enough to work with his cabinet, aids, and generals. Trump is inherently devoid of a moral compass, lazy, & stubborn. He is driven by his personality disordered brain that cares only for himself at any given moment. He’s lazy and ignorant and doesn’t care. it’s fucked up man. smh

  • Dan Basnett

    And then, I would imagine, she took some mind bending substances… toot some root, maybe some cute little mushrooms, a stamp or two of the acid queen's answers to consciosness…. and the rest is history… and, of course, there was the suave Billi Boy.

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