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Sample Biographical Essay: The Life of Hillary Clinton

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    Hillary Rodham Clinton has been on the public stage for years on end, as discussed in this sample essay. She is a lightning rod in the theatre of political thought inspiring many women who bestow upon her wide-eyed support and adulation, while at the same time she also inspires contempt and consternation at the highest levels. 

    Who is Hillary Clinton?

    So who is this woman who has a legitimate chance at becoming the first woman President of the United States? Well, Hillary is the first First Lady of the United States to ever be elected to public office, which took place when elected to the U. S. Senate in 2001 (“Hillary”). Thereafter, she became the 67th Secretary of State, and the third of only three women to hold the highest ranking position in the Cabinet, after Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice. Hillary has lived a celebrated, dynamic, yet imperfect life.

    Hillary Clinton's background

    Hillary attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts, in 1965, a private women’s college, and studied political science (“Hillary”). She was actively engaged in student politics at the school, became senior class president, and gave the first student commencement speech ever given at the college (“Hillary D.”).   

    In 1969, she attended Yale Law School, in New Haven, Connecticut, and as a board of editors member worked on the Yale Review of Law and Social Action (“First Lady”). Her life was at the precipice of change at Yale, because it was here that she met Bill Clinton in 1970. They developed a beautiful and at times acrimonious relationship, and on a trip to England after graduation, Clinton asked Hillary to marry him (Serico). She declined at first, stating that she needed more time, but after some consideration she decided to take a leap of faith. The pair married in 1975, 41 years later are still together.

    Somewhere before Bill popped the question, Hillary began working for the Children’s Defense Fund, where she knocked on doors in New Bedford, Massachusetts, interviewing parents regarding the limited resources and programs for children with disabilities (“Hillary's Story”). The testimony gathered led to the passage of extraordinary legislation compelling Massachusetts to offer quality education to disabled students. Her commitment to advocacy for children has lasted throughout her entire career (“Hillary's Story”).

    After Bill became the Attorney General of Arkansas, Hillary joined the Rose Law Firm in 1977, and became a partner in 1979 (“First Lady”). Their daughter Chelsea Clinton was born February 27, 1980. Hillary became the First Lady of Arkansas after her husband won the Arkansas gubernatorial election in 1978. She served as Arkansas’ First Lady from January 9, 1979 to January 19, 1981, and then again from January 11, 1983 to December 12, 1992.

    During that time Hillary became the chair of the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee, where she helped to reform the state’s public school system, ranked close to lowest in most categories in the United States (Conroy). As well, she cofounded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, with the goal of making sure that children and families obtained the resources and experiences to become all that they could become (“Happy Birthday”). Hillary also served as a board member for Walmart, TCBY, Arkansas Legal Services, The Children's Defense Fund, and the Arkansas Children's Hospital (“Hillary Clinton”).

    In 1993, Bill became President of the United States and named Hillary to head up the dubitable Task Force on National Health Reform which was later shelved in 1994 (“Hillary Clinton”). The Whitewater scandal, regarding potential illegalities involving the Clintons in real estate loans and purchases, began in earnest with the appointment of Kenneth W. Starr, a Reagan nominee for judgeship and Bush Solicitor General, as independent counsel assigned for the purpose of investigating the Whitewater/Madison Guaranty matters (“Whitewater”).

    The Clintons had entered in a real estate deal with James and Susan McDougal, and co-borrowed $203,000 in order to buy two hundred and twenty acres of land with the goal of building vacation homes in the Ozark Mountains. McDougal purchased a small bank which he named Madison Guaranty. In the end, the savings and loan suffered from financial instability and failed requiring a $60 million bailout. Ultimately, the Starr proceeding did not lodge any official Whitewater allegations at the Clintons due to insufficient evidence (“Whitewater”).    

    The Starr Investigation, though unsuccessful at finding any Clinton improprieties related to Whitewater, did exhume Bill’s testimony related to the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit, where Clinton denied having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern (Baker). At the Starr Grand Jury, Clinton admitted to inaccuracies in his statements regarding the Lewinsky affair after which Starr initiated impeachment proceedings on the basis of perjury and obstruction of justice. The Republican Senate acquitted Clinton, while impeachment articles failed in the House. Bill Clinton’s presidency ended in 2001. 

    Senator Clinton of New York

    Hillary became the first woman Senator from New York, was reelected, and remained in that position from 2001 until 2009 (“Senator Hillary”). She was Senator in the 107th Congress through the 111th. Hillary sponsored 713 pieces of legislation and co-sponsored over 2,600, 77 of which became law. Clinton co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, with Senator Barbara Mikulski, (Democrat-MD) which amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and was the first law signed by President Obama. In addition to a wide variety of policy topics, she also co-sponsored several health related bills for children, like the Newborn Screen Saves Lives Act of 2007, the Preemie Act, Combating Autism Act of 2006, and the Pediatric Research Equity Act of 2003

    Democratic nominee for President in 2008 – Obama presidency

    Hillary announced her bid for the Presidency on Jan. 20, 2007 (Ferguson). Clinton’s perfectly timed announcement occurred before President George W. Bush’s Tuesday night State of the Union address. Her goal was to propel the stark differences between them and gain what was expected to be generous press attention. She said that she would spend her remaining time in office attempting to undo the damage that Bush had done and to give hope to the electorate.

    A nationwide poll conducted by Washington Post/ABC News showed that Clinton became the immediate front-runner, garnering the backing of over forty percent of the Democrats, in contrast to then Senator Barack Obama, who only had seventeen percent of party support (Ferguson). At the mid-way point in the race, Clinton drafted an eleven page letter addressed to undeclared superdelegates, reminding them of her lead in the polls, her strength in the popular vote, and her upward trend in states critical to prior election wins, indicating her readiness to become the new commander in chief (Ambinder). Yet her strategy did not earn her the presidency in the end. Many attribute the fail to internal campaign strife and major strategic mis-steps (Green). 

    Secretary of State, HIllary Clinton

    Hillary served as Secretary of State from January 21, 2009 through February 1, 2013 (“Former Secretary”). President Obama, in what may have been both a move of acute political strategy and astonishing swag, got one of his fiercest opponents, during the Democratic nominations, to become both his partner in crime, and one of his staunchest and most loyal collaborators (Hirsh). Obama said, during a 60 Minutes interview, that

    “. . . I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest secretaries of state we’ve had” (Hirsh).

    In fact Hillary addressed her own experience as Secretary of State effectively declaring it as training 101 for the presidency (Collinson).

    A campaign ad lauded her "iron will, vision, empathy" and dogged determination (Collinson). Yet not everyone views her rendition as a platinum plus experience. Donald Trump called her “worst-ever top U.S. diplomat” (Collinson). However, compared to the many offensive comments he has made against women generally, calling her the “worst-ever,” may not actually be so bad (Rosslee). Marco Rubio, who probably practiced his statement multiple times in advance of verbalizing it, described her time as Secretary of State as

    "ineffective at best, and dangerously negligent at worst" (Collinson).

    Clinton’s legacy as Secretary of State will certainly become a factor if she becomes the Democratic nominee. 

    2012 Benghazi Attack and Emails – Clinton has had to defend her way out of accusations that the 2012 Benghazi attack, in which U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed by anti- U. S. sympathizers, was effectively her fault (Collinson). The primary question is, was the attack one provoked and carried out by terrorists, or was it just the result of an improptu protest.

    Clinton was hammered in an eleven hour hearing in response to a congressional investigation into the matter. In fact, another offshoot of the Benghazi attack investigation is that, while Secretary of State, she used a private email server while communicating important information that could have impacted national security. Both issues will rise once again from the ashes like a phoenix, should she win the Democratic nomination (Collinson).  

    The Clinton Foundation

    In 2013, the Clinton Foundation, originally the William J. Clinton Foundation, was renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation (“About Us”). The objective of the Foundation is to help people on a global basis meet world struggles, such as health issues, enfranchisement for women and girls, stopping juvenile obesity, reducing diseases that are preventable, generating economic opportunity, and dealing with the impact of climate change. The Foundation collaborates with individuals and organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (“About Us”). 

    The 2016 Presidential Campaign

    Hillary Clinton announced her entry into the 2016 Presidential Campaign on April 12, 2015 ending months of speculation (Chozick). Is there anyone quite as experienced as Hillary Clinton? No. She has evolved into the consummate politician and world statesman, although she is not without her misanthropic naysayers. On immigration she said, 

    We need comprehensive immigration reform with a path to full and equal citizenship. If Congress won't act, I'll defend President Obama’s executive actions—and I'll go even further to keep families together. I'll end family detention, close private immigrant detention centers, and help more eligible people become naturalized (Google).

    On abortion she stated,

    Politicians have no business interfering with women's personal health decisions. I will oppose efforts to roll back women's access to reproductive health care, including Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. As president, I'll stand up for Planned Parenthood and women’s access to critical health services, including safe, legal abortion (Google).

    On foreign policy she believes,

    As secretary of state, I worked to restore America’s leadership in the world. As president, defending our values and keeping us safe will be my top priority. That includes maintaining a cutting-edge military, strengthening our alliances, cultivating new partners, standing up to aggressors, defeating ISIS, and enforcing the Iran nuclear agreement (Google).

    The decision regarding whether we will have our first woman president is not that far away. 

    Like biography essays? Check out this biographical essay on Henry VIII and his six wives.

    Works Cited

    "About Us." The Clinton Foundation. Web. 10 April 2016. <https://www.clintonfoundation.org/about>.

    Ambinder, Marc. "Clinton's Closing Argument To Superdelegates." The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group. 28 May 2008. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2008/05/clintons-closing-argument-to-superdelegates/53314/>.

    Baker, Peter. "Clinton Settles Paula Jones Lawsuit for $850,000." The Washington Post. Nash Holdings LLC. 14 November 1998. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/jones111498.htm>.

    Chozick, Amy. "Hillary Clinton Announces 2016 Presidential Bid." The New York Times. The New York Times Company. 13 April 2015. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/13/us/politics/hillary-clinton-2016-presidential-campaign.html?_r=0>.

    Collinson, Stephen. "Hillary Clinton's record at State Department: Blessing or curse?" CNN. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. 19 November 2015. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/19/politics/hillary-clinton-state-department-record/>.

    Conroy, Scott. "In Arkansas, Hillary Clinton’s Legacy Remains Potent." Huffington Post. TheHuffintonPost.com Inc. 5 November 2011. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/11/hillary-clinton-arkansas_n_7258956.html>.

    Ferguson, Amber. "Hillary Clinton Announced Her 2008 Presidential Campaign 8 Years Ago Today." Huffington Post. TheHuffintonPost.com Inc. 20 January 2015. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/20/hillary-clinton-2008-campaign_n_6507254.html>.

    "First Lady Biography: Hillary Clinton." National First Ladies' Library. n. d. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=43>.

    "Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: 2009 to 2013." U. S. Department of State. 

    Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs.  Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.state.gov/secretary/20092013clinton/>.

     Green, Joshua. "The Front-Runner’s Fall." The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group. September 2008. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/09/the-front-runner-s-fall/306944/>.

    "Happy Birthday AACF." Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.aradvocates.org/happy-birthday-aacf/>.

    "Hillary Clinton." Biography. A&E Television Networks, LLC. n. d. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.biography.com/people/hillary-clinton-9251306#synopsis>.

    "Hillary D. Rodham's 1969 Student Commencement Speech." Wellesley College. Trustees of Wellesley College. n. d. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.wellesley.edu/events/commencement/archives/1969commencement/studentspeech>.

    "Hillary's Story." HillaryClinton.com. Hillary for America. Web. 10 April 2016. <https://www.hillaryclinton.com/about/bio/>.

    Hirsh, Michael. 'The Clinton Legacy." Foreign Affairs. Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. May/June 2013. Web. 10 April 2016. <https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2013-04-03/clinton-legacy>.

    Rosslee, Norlisa Hanlon and Chandler, Vicky. "27 Of The Most Outrageous Donald Trump Quotes." Marie Claire. Time Inc. 24 March 2016. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/blogs/550112/donald-trump-quotes.html>.

    "Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton." Congress.gov. Library of Congress. Web. 10 April 2016. <https://www.congress.gov/member/hillary-clinton/C001041?page=1>.

    Serico, Chris. "Hillary Clinton on marrying Bill: 'I actually turned him down twice'." Today News. NBC Universal. 24 September 2015. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.today.com/news/hillary-clinton-marrying-husband-bill-i-actually-turned-him-down-t46161>.

    "Whitewater Timeline." The Washington Post. Nash Holdings LLC. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/whitewater/timeline.htm>.

     
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