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NOTE
: THE DEFINING GENERATION is a project begun by Doug and Pam Sterner in 2002 and completed in 2006. Initially is was prepared for publication as a book, however with their changing focus to development of a database of military awards, was postponed indefinitely so they could concentrate on that larger, more important work. The stories found herein however, need to be shared, and they have consented to make this compilation available in this format. While each story can stand alone, it is recommended that for continuity, readers will be best served by reading the chapters sequentially from first to last.

 

The Defining Generation

-

Defining the Future of Politics

Hillary Rodham Clinton

 

"I have gone from a Barry Goldwater Republican to a New Democrat, but I think my underlying values have remained pretty constant; individual responsibility and community. I do not see those as being mutually inconsistent."

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

 

No person either inside or outside politics better represented the conservative leanings in America in the 1960s than Arizona Senator Barry Morris Goldwater. He was an Army Air Forces veteran of World War II and one of the driving forces behind establishing the United States Air Force Academy now based at Colorado Springs . He fought bitterly what he considered the Socialism of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal program. A self-proclaimed "hawk" he was strong on defense and advocated for aggressive tactics to prevent the spread of Communism in Asia . While supporting racial integration, he was one of only four non-Southern Senators who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on the grounds that it unconstitutionally tried to "legislate morality" and intruded on the individual rights of business owners. He crusaded against a strong and large Federal Government, labor unions, and a welfare state.

In 1964 Goldwater received the Republican nomination and challenged incumbent Democrat Lyndon Johnson for the Presidency. His campaign slogan "In your heart you know he's right" was followed by an addendum from his liberal opponents who noted "…EXTREME right." Viewed by many as being so extremely conservative that he was out of touch with reality, another opposition slogan said, "In your guts you know he's nuts." But Goldwater's conservative and pro-military platform resonated with an "old-fashioned" segment of the Greatest Generation as well as a large number of young, idealistic Republicans. Among the latter was an 16-year-old girl from Chicago named Hillary Diane Rodham, who campaigned hard for the Republican icon. Just four years later the young woman would demonstrate a complete reversal, throwing her support in 1967 behind an anti-war, socially liberal Senator named Hubert Humphrey. In the parlance of modern politics she might have been accused of "flip-flopping" when it fact that reversal of affiliations was in fact, the natural process of learning and maturing.

Hillary Diane Rodham was born in Chicago on October 26, 1947 , to a typically upper-middle-class family residing in the suburb of Park Ridge . Hugh Ellsworth Rodham, the family patriarch, was a successful Chicago businessman who had started in the New York textile industry and then moved to Chicago where he built his own drapery company. He was strongly conservative in his political leanings and remained a Republican even after his daughter's marriage to Bill Clinton when, according to Bill Clinton himself, he hoped that his son-in-law would join him in the Republican party and support a cut in the capital gains tax.[i]

Hillary's mother, the former Dorothy Howell, came to Chicago from California in 1937 where she met Hugh. The two were married in 1942 and five years later Hillary was born. Mrs. Rodham never worked outside the home but devoted her life to raising her daughter and the two sons that followed; Hugh was born in 1950 and Tony four years later. In a 1993 interview with Glamour magazine she described her position in the family as a "classic parenting situation where the mother is the encourager and the helper and the father brings the news from the outside world." Mrs. Rodham once quietly admitted to Rick Ricketts, one of her daughter's classmates, the she was in fact a Democrat herself. Of course that was not what the wife of a business owner in living in Park Ridge wanted very many people to know.[ii]

There was certainly little that was remarkable about Hillary's early life. She enjoyed sports, was involved in Brownies and Girl Scouts earning all available badges in both, and enjoyed attending Church with her family. She baked chocolate cookies with mom and as "daddy's little girl" gravitated towards her father's conservative principles. She attended a public grade school and interacted well with her classmates. For the most part, living in Park Ridge sheltered her from personal contact with poverty, crime and racial prejudice in the early years. Perhaps with a good script writer the Rodham Family might well have become the Cleavers or the Andersons . They typified the post-war "Happy Days" families of week night television.

Throughout her childhood and into her teens Hillary was active in her local church, the Park Ridge Methodist Church where she was confirmed in 1959. Two years later she became a Freshman in the inaugural class of the new Park Ridge Maine East High School . Both church and school had significant impacts on expanding her thinking. On April 15, 1962 , the church youth group joined with youth from other churches for a meeting at Chicago 's Orchestra Hall. There the youth who were growing up in an idyllic world began to learn first-hand that there were serious problems beyond the limits of Park Hill. The speaker that night was Dr. Martin Luther King and Hillary later wrote: "Dr. King's speech was entitled, 'Remaining Awake Through a Revolution.' Until then, I had been dimly aware of the social revolution occurring in our country, but Dr. King's words illuminated the struggle taking place and challenged our indifference."[iii] After the program the teens were allowed to join a throng around the rising young preacher who would soon become an historic reformer, and Hillary recalls the brief opportunity she had that night with Dr. King as one of the great memories of her life.

That one single event was not enough to immediately turn young Hillary into a liberal with a social conscience, she remained a product of her environment which was generally quite conservative. Her youthful dream world was rattled in November 1963 when she, like millions of others, heard and then witnessed on television the murder of President John F. Kennedy. Though Kennedy was not popular in Park Ridge , he was the American President and the community mourned his loss. For Hillary it was the first inkling of how deep ran some of our nation's problems. "When you grow up in a protected suburb," she has said, "you can't imagine what's out there unless someone brings it to you."[iv]

The following year as a Senior she remained quite busy. She was elected Class President, served on student council, participated on the debate team, was a member of the Honor Society, and was named a National Merit Finalist. Though too young yet to vote she became an ardent supporter of Senator Goldwater in his bid for the Presidency. Donnie Radcliffe recounts in his 1993 biography how the teachers at Maine East High pushed Hillary and her friend Ellen Press Murdoch who supported Lyndon Johnson into a campaign debate on behalf of the candidates. Instead of having the two young women argue their merits of their chosen candidates however, the two were required to reverse roles, Murdoch debating for Goldwater and Hillary for Johnson. Hillary was disinclined but the teachers admonished, "You will now go to the library and you will now read about the other side of everything you have refused to look at for your entire life."[v] It was a lesson in learning, and in politics, that would not only eventually change her philosophies but that would also enable her to become a moderate in a political world that tended to extremes.

That Hugh and Dorothy Rodham's children would have the opportunity to go to college had never been in doubt. Though Dorothy was very much the traditional domestic mother, it was by preference and not because of social demands. She never limited her daughter to the traditional role of domestic wife and mother but encouraged Hillary to develop her own dreams. In an interview with the Washington Post she told a reporter, "(I was) determined that no daughter of mine was going to have to go through the agony of being afraid to say what she had on her mind. Just because she was a girl didn’t mean she should be limited."[vi]

After graduating high school in 1965 Hillary enrolled in Wellesley College to major in Political Science. At the time Wellesley was an all-girls liberal arts university with a reputation for being among the most prestigious places for a young woman to develop intellectually and socially. It was a rigidly controlled environment that encouraged thought, debate, and active participation without allowing for the kind of activism that was by 1965 starting to take root in public colleges and universities.

True to her early beliefs Hillary joined the campus Young Republicans and was elected President. Even however as she openly debated her conservative beliefs on a generally liberal campus, what she read and what she saw happening in America began to weigh on her mind. She was moved by such issues as racism and poverty and began to see social needs for programs such as those established by Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society." She echoed her own inner turmoil with questions like, "(Is it) possible to be a realist about social existence and at the same time struggle for justice and reform? Did you have to be either conservative status quo or idealistic? (Is) it possible to be a mental conservative and a heart liberal?"[vii]

In the adult political world such an indecisive dilemma is called "waffling." In the academic world it is called questioning and learning. In the 60s it had its own unique description, it was called "searching for your own identity. Hillary found hers somewhere in the middle between competing issues, trying to balance these between intellect and emotion. In her junior year she resigned from the Young Republicans and began rallying behind both the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-Vietnam War Movement. She joined with fellow students in off-campus demonstrations and marches for Civil Rights and in opposition to the war, a cause Dr. King had himself rallied behind in the last years of his life.

Biographer Radcliff notes the, "If the 1960s was a defining decade, with nothing that would come later paralleling such dramatic change, 1968 was to be the defining year in Hillary Rodham's undergraduate life."[viii] If she had any doubts about the evolutionary change in her doctrine it was reinforced sadly and dramatically on April 4, 1968 , when Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis , Tennessee , while continuing his crusade for Civil Rights. One month later in Los Angeles , Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed while campaigning for the Democratic Presidential nomination. It was obvious that the problems in America ran deep and were mired in tragedy.

In the election of that year Hillary put her initial efforts behind the Primary campaign of anti-war Democrat Eugene McCarthy, Barry Goldwater's antithesis. When Kennedy was killed and with McCarthy failing to Hubert Humphrey, a social liberal who more conservative in support of the Vietnam War, Hillary crossed over once again to campaign for liberal Republican Nelson Rockefeller. In August she went to the Republican Primary in Miami to stump for his election. When Richard Nixon got the nod and Rockefeller was tapped as his Vice Presidential running mate, Hillary reluctantly threw her support to Hubert Humphrey. She did not vote however, much to her chagrin. Though she turned 21 only weeks before the election, Illinois election laws required registration 30 days before the election leaving her no time to register to vote herself.

To add to an already busy year in 1968, that summer Hillary got an inside look at the workings of politics in Washington , D.C. She applied for and was one of 30 applicants out of several hundred that were selected for the House Republican Conference. Throughout the month of June she worked in that program, chaired by Congressman Melvin Laird of Wisconsin , who the following year would be appointed Secretary of Defense under Richard Nixon. After attending the Republican National Convention in early August to support Rockefeller, she returned home to Chicago at the end of the month to attend the Democratic National Convention. It proved to be three days marked by unrest, demonstrations, and violence, unlike any convention before or since. She returned to Wellesley to complete her Senior year deeply concerned by the conflicts, turmoil, injustices and murders that were tearing her country apart. It was a long ways and a lifetime removed from her idyllic childhood safely ensconced in Park Ridge .

Hillary's last year at Wellesley was marked by achievement, leadership, and learning. She was to graduate with honors, and served her Senior year as President of College Government and presiding officer of College Senate. Her Senior Thesis, in a strong departure from her childhood conservatism, probed the tactics of radical community organizer Saul D. Alinsky, the 94-page thesis submitted under the title "There is only the Fight." The title was abbreviated from T.S. Elliott's East Coker, "There is only the fight to recover what has been lost and found and lost again and again…For us, there is only the trying."

Hillary also made history as the first student ever to give a commencement address at Wellesley --a demand for the microphone by the student body in which Hillary was the popular choice among her classmates. Her rousing address prompted a standing ovation and kudos in Life magazine. It was a mixture of an indictment of eroding social policy, challenges to her graduating class, and a reflection of her own internal conflicts and development. She noted, "Every protest, every dissent…is unabashedly an attempt to forge an identity in this particular age.. it's also a very unique American experience. It's such a great adventure. If the experiment in human living doesn't work in this country, in this age, it's not going to work anywhere."[ix]

Following graduation Hillary pursued a Law Degree at Yale. During her second year she began working as a volunteer at the Yale Child Study Center where she assimilated a deep desire to help children--a passion that would follow her life and achievements to the White House. She witnessed and took on child abuse cases at the Yale-New Haven Hospital and also provided free legal advice to the city's poor.

In the Spring in 1971 she met a budding young Law student from Arkansas , William Jefferson Clinton, and the two began dating. When the semester ended they parted briefly as she went to Washington , D.C. to work for Senator Walter Mondale's sub-committee on migrant workers, researching needs such as problems in housing, sanitation, health and education. Because much of this revolved around children, she continued to evolve as a leading advocate for America 's most under-privileged children.

Hillary returned to school to pursue her education with a new interest, Bill Clinton. She returned home to Park Ridge for Christmas and the day after the holiday her young suitor joined her there to meet her parents. They returned to Yale together with a chemistry that formed a mutual attraction. When the semester ended Hillary spent her summer working for the liberal candidacy George McGovern's 1972 Presidential bid. That fall back at Yale she cast her first presidential vote for the South Dakota Democrat who lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon. The following year she received a Juris Doctor degree and began a year of post-graduate study on children and medicine at the Yale Child Study Center . Her first scholarly paper, "Children Under the Law", was published in the Harvard Educational Review in late 1973. Her legal work revolved largely around children's issues, however in 1974 she also served as a member of the impeachment inquiry staff to the House Committee on the Judiciary during the Watergate scandal that resulted in the resignation of Richard Nixon.

In 1975 Hillary married Bill Clinton and moved to Fayetteville , Arkansas , to one of two female faculty members at the University of Arkansas , Fayetteville School of Law. Her husband, who in 1974 failed in a bid for an Arkansas Congressional Seat, was elected in 1976 to the position of State Attorney General and the couple moved to the capitol at Little Rock . Hillary was hired by the Rose Law Firm and in 1979 became the first woman to be made a full partner. At the time she was also Arkansas ' First Lady, Bill Clinton winning election to the Governor's seat the previous November. The following year the couple's first and only daughter, Chelsea was born.

As First Lady first of Arkansas and later of the United States , children were always a priority for Hillary Clinton. She chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee from 1982 to 1992 and the Rural Health Advisory Committee in 1979, and introduced the Arkansas ' Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youth to help parents work with their children in preschool preparedness and literacy. She was named Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983 and Arkansas Mother of the Year in 1984.[x]

As America's First Lady following election of her husband to the Oval Office in 1992 she made health care a priority, failing to sell the program to the nation and taking personal attacks in the process, but it remains an issue she continues to fight for. She was one of the most active and activist women ever to live in the White House, drawing fierce loyalty from some and absolute derision from others. After two terms in the White House, in 2000 she successfully won election to a U.S. Senate seat from New York , the only First Lady ever to seek and win elective office.

Perhaps the term most frequently used to describe her is "divisive." That is true perhaps because she is a difficult woman to pigeonhole. The far left finds the influence of her early lessons in conservatism too far to the right, and the far right sees her as a social liberal bordering on Socialism. Perhaps the only person who truly understands who she is, is Senator Clinton herself. She knows where she started, remembers how she questioned and changed, and has ideas how she can blend the two for the sake of her country. 



[i] Wikipedia

[ii] Radcliffe, Donnie, Hillary Rodham Clinton-A First Lady for Our Time, Warner Books, New York , 1993, p 25.

[iii] Clinton , Hillary, Living History, Simon & Schuster , New York ,  p 22-23

[iv] Radcliffe, Donnie, p. 43

[v] Radcliffe, Donnie, p 23 - 24

[vi] Radcliffe, Donnie, p 35.

[vii] Radcliffe, Donnie, p 62

[viii] Radcliffe, Donnie, p 66

[ix] Rodham, Hillary, Commencement Address, Wellesley College , Wellesley , Massachusetts , May 31, 1969

[x] Wikipedia

 

 

The Defining Generation: Copyright © 2006 by Doug and Pam Sterner
All Rights Reserved

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Cover & Introduction
     Preface
Out With the Old
     The Defining Generation

I. - Defining the New
     John Fitzgerald Kennedy
     Roger H.C. Donlon
     Robert Robin Moore
     Barry Sadler
     The Green Beret

II. - Defining Equality
     When Worlds Collide
     Dr. Martin Luther King
     Jimmy Stanford & Vince Yrineo
     Milton Lee Olive, III
     Specialist Lawrence Joel
     Sammy Lee Davis
     Black MOH Recipients - Vietnam War

III. - Defining the Role of the Sexes
     Evolution of a Husband
     Remember the Ladies
     Rosie the Riveter
     Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard
     Linda G. Alvarado
     Karen Irene Offutt
     Women in Military Service
     Lieutenant General Carol Mutter
     The Modern Woman in Combat
IV. - Defining Human Rights
     My Brother's Keeper
     Who is My Brother
     Christopher Dodd & Christopher Shays
     Peace Corps Politicians (Memories)
     Don Bendell
     Sir Edward Artis
     General Colin L. Powell

V. - Defining Entertainment
     Life Imitating Art
     Troubled Waters
     Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
     Brian's Song
     All in the Family
     Adrian Cronauer

VI. - Defining Dissent

     From Berkeley With Love
     The Pen and the Sword
     General David Shoup
     Muhammad Ali
     John Forbes Kerry

VII. - Defining the Future of Politics
     An Act of Congress
     All Politics is....Hereditary?
     Hillary Rodham Clinton
     Condoleezza Rice
     James Henry Webb
The next Section is scheduled for posting on May 20, 2011
VIII. - Defining Memories
     Jaime Pacheco
     The Glory of their Deeds
     Jan Scruggs
     Delbert Schmeling
     Peter C. Lemon

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
The authors extend our thanks to the following who granted personal interviews for this work
: Roger Donlon (MOH), Robin Moore, Don Bendell, Jimmy Stanford, Vince Yrineo, Sammy L. Davis (MOH), Linda Alvarado, Karen Offutt, Lieutenant General Carol Mutter, Sir Edward Artis, General Colin L. Powell, Katharine Houghton, Adrian Cronauer, Jan Scruggs, Delbert Schmeling, and Peter Lemon (MOH).
Our thanks to the staff of the following who either wrote or allowed reprint of their own works for this book: Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard, Don Bendell, Congressman Sam Farr, Congressman Thomas Petri, Congressman Mike Honda, Congressman Jim Walsh, Governor Jim Doyle, and Scott Baron.
Our special thanks also to the staff of the following who provided information and fact-checked the chapters related to their subject: Staff of Senator John Kerry, Staff of (then) Senator Hillary Clinton, Staff of Senator Jim Webb
A SPECIAL THANKS also to Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard for his assistance in writing and editing the entire section on the Role of the Sexes.

 

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