CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "The Most Powerful Woman in American History" is the cover story of the Feb. 1 Newsweek. It says Hillary Clinton wields more political clout than any other female in the U.S. record -- even exceeding the legendary Eleanor Roosevelt -- and is a top prospect to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.
"She's been the most famous and admired woman in America for 20 years," the article by Morgantown native and WVU graduate Michael Tomasky says. "A December Gallup poll had her as the most admired woman in the world, and no. 2 on the list (Michelle Obama) wasn't remotely close. ... Who has been first lady, senator, secretary of state? No other woman, that's for sure. Not many men have held as many high-profile jobs and performed them as well."
When Secretary of State Clinton retired to private life, various reports recounted the 1990s period when Republicans squandered $50 million of taxpayer money in a futile attempt to destroy her and her husband in the Whitewater investigation.
A Feb. 1 Washington Post commentary said she endured "hostility, rage and deranged conspiracy-mongering." Press TV added:
"As first lady, she faced several special prosecutors, including the last one, Kenneth Starr, who would have stopped at nothing to humiliate her husband and her family. ... She had to deal with an industry of Clinton-haters who have accused her, among many other things, of conspiring to kill one of her best friends" (White House aide Vincent Foster, who committed suicide).
But she breezed through that ugliness and gained world stature. Tomasky wrote that Clinton became a "barrier-breaker" who made America comfortable with the notion of women as top government leaders. "She has shown that women can wield official power and can do so with moral force equal to, and in some ways greater than, men. ... In the 20 years she's been on the stage, the country has gone from wondering whether women could handle the toughest jobs to knowing they can. That is a huge cultural change."
She crusaded to make the world fairer. As first lady, she famously declared in Beijing that "human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights once and for all."
Although she failed in her historic 1990s attempt to secure universal health insurance, and failed in her 2008 run for the White House, she never stopped pushing for ideals of democracy. As secretary of state, she helped eliminate Libyan dictator Gaddhafi, and created an international ambassador-at-large for women's rights, and abetted the raid that killed world terrorism kingpin Osama bin Laden, and helped remove the military dictatorship in Myanmar (Burma).
She exhausted herself by flying 1 million miles to negotiate with leaders of 112 countries as what The Associated Press called "a peace mediator, international enforcer and global ambassador of America." She lived with perpetual jetlag.
Now she has returned to private life, planning to write another book. What will 2016 bring? The Wall Street Journal says she would be "a solid frontrunner" if she seeks again to become the first woman president. Already, fundraisers are starting campaign committees for her.
So far, she says she's interested only in "catching up on about 20 years of sleep deprivation." Who knows how national events will unfold. Keep reading the news.