By Michelle Goldberg
It was easier to write about Hillary Clinton when I hated her.
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I spent much of the 2008 Democratic primary season furious at both Clinton and the second-wave feminists who tried to guilt young women into voting for her. In Barack Obama, I thought, America had the chance to elect a transcendent figure, a person who promised so much more than the relentless triangulation of Bill Clinton’s disillusioning presidency. It was inexplicable to me that, presented with Obama, anyone could prefer Bill Clinton’s wife. Mocking Obama’s promise to unite the country, Hillary Clinton said then, “The skies will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.” She didn’t just fail to inspire—she seemed to sneer at the whole idea of inspiration.
I kept a mental list of every disappointing thing Hillary Clinton had ever done, from supporting welfare reform to voting for the Iraq war to co-sponsoring a Senate bill to ban flag-burning. I wrote article after article inveighing against the idea that Clinton was a feminist standard-bearer. In fact, I argued, she exemplified “a phenomenon seen in many developing and crisis-ridden countries: the great man's wife or daughter promising to continue his legacy.” I was livid when older feminists like Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan, and Linda Hirshman denigrated the young feminists supporting Obama. “If feminism equaled supporting Hillary Clinton, I'm not the only one who wouldn't want anything to do with it,” I sniffed.
It is strange, then, to find myself, eight years later, not only rooting for Clinton, but feeling exasperated by her left-wing critics. I know their case against Clinton. I agree with a lot of it. I worry about what Clinton’s many flaws would mean for a potential presidency. Now, however, watching her be rejected by young people swept up in an idealistic political movement, I feel sadness instead of glee.