NYT Giddily Launches ‘Astronaut’ Hillary Into ‘History,' Celebrates Her 'Profound Service' of Being Female

July 29th, 2016 12:41 PM

The ultimate night of the Democratic National Convention saw the coronation of Hillary Clinton as the first female presidential nominee, celebrated on the front of Friday’s New York Times. She scored the whole top half of the front page, an enormous photo of herself waving against a backdrop of American flags. Jodi Kantor took the historical feminist angle, while portraying Hillary Clinton as a magician that would instantly solve all womens' problems, while Patrick Healy and Amy Chozick did their best to both humanize and historicize Hillary on the front page:

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, who sacrificed personal ambition for her husband’s political career and then rose to be a globally influential figure, became the first woman to accept a major party’s presidential nomination on Thursday night, a prize that generations of American women have dreamed about for one of their own.


Mrs. Clinton radiated confidence, from her pungent delivery and easy laugh to the unusually expressive ways she shifted her tone and delighted in her own best lines. She smoothly acknowledged her own limitations and trust issues as a public figure and forcefully challenged Mr. Trump over his claims that he alone could fix America’s problems.

Healy and Chozick treated the nominee’s decades of personal and political scandals passively.

And after 25 years in a sometimes brutal national spotlight, Mrs. Clinton tried to explain who she is and what drives her -- from her Methodist faith to her passion for government policy that could mean all the difference for people.


But the most powerful guest speaker of the evening was Khizr Khan, a Muslim American whose son joined the Army after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was killed during service in Iraq. Mr. Khan, rebuking Mr. Trump for frequently demonizing Muslims as threats to the United States, pulled a copy of the Constitution out of his suit jacket.

“Mr. Trump, have you even read the Constitution?” he said. “You have sacrificed nothing.”

His words seemed to send a collective shiver through the convention hall, leaving some delegates in tears.

Few recent political conventions have had a night gusting with so much history and high emotion. If elected, Mrs. Clinton would become the 45th president of the United States, as well as the first to be married to a former president, Bill Clinton, the nation’s 42nd.


Democrats roared with passion and pride as a beaming Mrs. Clinton took the stage after her daughter, Chelsea, introduced her as an American who was inspired by her own mother’s impoverished childhood and had faced personal and professional choices that defined generations of women. The two locked eyes and fell into a long embrace as Mrs. Clinton patted her back. A moment later, Mrs. Clinton waved at Mr. Clinton, and he blew her a kiss.


“He’s betting that the perils of today’s world will blind us to its unlimited promise,” Mrs. Clinton said. “He wants us to fear the future and fear each other. Well, a great Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, came up with the perfect rebuke to Trump more than 80 years ago, during a much more perilous time: ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’”

That would be the Democratic president who out-Trumped Trump by rounding up over 100,000 Japanese-Americans and putting them in concentration camps during World War II. The Times must have missed the irony.

For her, though, the greatest exhilaration flowed from the sense that history had been made and that the lives of future generations would be changed forever.

(Hillary of course passed her New York Times speech fact-check with flying colors.)

Jodi Kantor took the historical feminist angle, while portraying Hillary Clinton as a magician that would instantly solve all womens' problems, on Friday’s front page: “Women See a Female President Lifting Them All.”

The president would know what it is like to be pregnant. Top military leaders would answer to a female boss, when there has never even been a woman on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Workplaces and home life could be transformed through expanded parental leave and pay equity. Or nothing could change. The symbolism would be supernova-level. The backlash could be withering.

On Thursday night, 240 years into an unbroken chain of all-male leadership, Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination for president. The country may be one hard-fought election away from a woman in charge, making a question that has always been abstract more concrete: How could having a woman as president alter the experience of being an American woman?

“Women will get fair wages,” said Tammy Keith, 53, a caseworker who lives in East New York, Brooklyn, and estimated that she has been paid about $20,000 less than her male counterparts over the last 14 years.


Some of the women interviewed took for granted that Mrs. Clinton would be hit with nasty attacks, like the recent chants of “lock her up” at the Republican convention. But they sounded even more worried that she would face harsher criticism than a male president for whatever large or small mistakes she makes. (A recent Yale study found that women in traditionally male occupations are judged more severely when they make the same mistakes as men in those jobs.)

“Lock her up” also made the rounds of Sanders supporters at the DNC. Was that also “nasty”?

Kantor did uncover one Hillary accomplishment: Making successful grownup women say silly, childish things.

Other women say that if she wins, they may change their own behavior. The novelist Ann Patchett, 52, said that the election of a female president could convince her to hand over more domestic chores to her husband. She is a best-selling author and bookstore owner, but a woman in the Oval Office would help her believe that her work is as important as her physician husband’s, she said.

Kantor quoted Nancy Lyons, who “came up with her own analogy to describe what the moment means for her:

Watching Mrs. Clinton accept the nomination is like witnessing the space missions of her childhood, she said. Hillary Clinton is in a place no woman has ever been before, possibly about to go even further. She needs to execute precisely, to show great endurance and daring. Ms. Lyons is both cheering and dreading failure.

“Hillary Clinton is like an astronaut now,” she said.

Friday’s lead editorial, “Hillary Clinton’s Historic Moment,” celebrated Clinton’s "profound service to the nation": Being female.

Mrs. Clinton, who grew up in an era of few opportunities for women, revealed strength and tenacity building a career that spanned the world. Her education and work ethic eventually opened many avenues to her, and -- despite forays into lucrative and sometimes regrettable pursuits like her corporate speechmaking -- she has always returned to a path of service.

For four decades, Mrs. Clinton has listened to and spoken for children and the poor. She has absorbed personal and professional blows that would have left others on the canvas, and she has delivered some, too. Few politicians, and certainly not her opponent, have the intellectual heft that she brings to the race for the White House.

After lip service to Clinton’s problems of being “secretive and defensive” (no mention of “scandal,” “lies,” or “hypocrisy”) the editorial pivoted to Hillary the persecuted woman.

What is already clear is that Mrs. Clinton has had to work fiercely hard, under a withering scrutiny no male candidate would face, and that that hard work has now resulted in a profound service to the nation: A short time ago, the idea that a woman would attain her party’s presidential nomination was beyond audacious; it no longer is.