Yesterday’s news of TIME’s pick for “person of the year” pretty much dotted the [I]s and crossed the [T]s. Readers voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton mirroring the popular vote in the election. Editors, who actually make the selection, opted for the runner-up. The message could not be clearer. No matter how popular she is, no matter how many people actually voted for her in any context, that glass ceiling was fortified with steel filament. Hillary Clinton was never going to be president. How foolish of us to have entertained that frivolous dream.
Americans, and in fact the international community, have long questioned why the United States has not yet had a woman president when so many other countries have elected women to top leadership positions. It is a good question, however, news of the week brings echoes of how those women actually fared in those roles.
1. No one knows whether Park Guen-Hye’s presidency in South Korea will survive the pending impeachment bill or whether she will resign. The future looks dim for her. So she could win the dubious distinction of being the first democratically elected woman president of her country as well as the first democratically elected president not to serve a full term.
Park is accused of colluding with a friend and a former aide to pressure big businesses to donate to two foundations set up to back her policy initiatives.
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2. Brazil’s first woman president, Dilma Rouseff, was impeached and removed from office on August 31 of this year. The charges were corruption. Hillary Clinton attended Rouseff’s inauguration on January 1, 2011.
She displays angry indignation, for instance, at any mention of the government that has replaced her, led by her former vice-president and political nemesis, President Michel Temer.
“It’s a government of rich old white men, or at least those who want to be rich,” she says, hinting at a long list of corruption allegations against those in Temer’s ruling coalition.
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3. Yulia Tymoshenko served as Ukraine’s prime minister from 2007-2010 then bumped heads with Viktor Yanukovych (buddy of Trump advisor, Paul Manafort) who won the election and imprisoned her for overstepping her bounds as PM.
… in 2005 … Tymoshenko became prime minister. But she quickly fell out with her erstwhile ally, who dismissed her government after a few months. She came back as prime minister from 2007 to 2010, which was right when the global economic crisis hit Ukraine full force. In the 2010 presidential elections she ran against Yanukovych, she lost, and in 2011, he saw to it she was jailed.
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(Are we beginning to see a pattern here?)
4. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, former First Lady of Argentina, succeeded her late husband to the presidency as a social justice candidate for the Peronista party. She fulfilled her two four-year terms but was embattled by corruption charges and continues to be haunted by accusations of her implication in a murder case. (Sound familiar?)
The case against Fernández, a left-of-center politician who governed Argentina from 2007 to 2015, was compiled by the late prosecutor Alberto Nisman. He was found shot in the head 19 months ago in his apartment just hours before he was to present the case to Congress. His mysterious death remains unsolved.
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5. Benazir Bhutto, served as 11th and 13th prime minister of Pakistan, was convicted of corruption, and assassinated in 2007 at a campaign event. She was running as the opposition party candidate.
6. Indira Ghandi, daughter of India’s first prime minister and twice prime minister in her own right, assassinated in office October 31, 1984.
7. The first woman president ever, Isabel Perón, elected vice president on her husband’s ticket in 1973 succeeded him as president upon his death on July 1, 1974. She was overthrown in a military coup on March 23, 1976 and lives in exile in Spain which has refused her extradition on charges that Spain claims do not constitute crimes against humanity.
Women serving as Irish presidents have fared better, as did the super-conservative Reagan pal Maggie Thatcher in the UK.* Germany’s Angela Merkel has flourished despite lots of opposition from time to time over everything from immigration to economic policy, and Theresa May in the UK appears to be doing well so far.
*Edited to ad this book suggestion from Friday’s Skimm:
“High Dive” by Jonathan Lee
A bomb is planted at a hotel in the ’80s. The same hotel where British PM Margaret Thatcher’s about to check in. Based on a true story, this read about an attempted assassination is like “The Crown” meets “Jackie.”
So there was that.
The question that remains, though, in the face of the stories above is “What did we expect?” Did we really expect that the voice of the people would be respected? Even if Hillary had dominated the electoral vote, there were plans among Republicans long before Election Day to impeach her. Empty charges of corruption tied to the Clinton Foundation (no Clinton has profited from that foundation as attested by decades of financial disclosures by her campaign), Benghazi investigations that morphed into the server “scandal” which in turn begat the emails brouhaha filled the press and mainstream media reports alongside implications that Hillary Clinton just wasn’t healthy enough to be president – also untrue. Trump’s mainstream even now at his rallies (what elected leader continues to hold rallies? and why?) call for her to be locked up and the fringes, some of his supporters accuse her of treason and call for her execution. Think about that for a minute.
Meanwhile, just in case those stories were not powerful enough to defeat her, fake news stories charging her with everything from child trafficking to murder continue uncontrolled on social media, the FBI director released a misleading letter less than two weeks before Election Day, and Russian interference in the election remains a “meh” story as far as the media is concerned. So much more important to have a Trump-cam set up at his HQ on 5th Avenue to track the comings and goings of celebrity visitors.
We expected Hillary Clinton to bring in a mandate. If the popular vote is an indication, she did that by 2% and nearly 3 million individual votes. But if we were thinking that she would ever ride this tide into the Oval Office, the political establishment was in the background slapping us back and making certain that would never happen on the excuse that she was “the establishment” – an allegation popularized within her own party by her primary rival, Bernie Sanders. Even now, these toxic memes about Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate, continue to circulate.
So you can throw your money at a recount if you want. The issue of standing was bound to arise, and Jill Stein does not have standing. Only Hillary does, and she and her team are not pushing for a recount or an audit – the latter will never materialize, and the reason is that under no circumstances was Hillary Clinton ever going to be allowed to take that oath. In a final layer of prevention, Jason Chaffetz has plans for further HRC investigations – of what remains to be seen. Perhaps he thinks she is running guerilla training camps in the wild.
We don’t know who made this macro, but we love it.
The establishment was never prepared for a Hillary Clinton presidency even though the majority of American voters were. They were hell bent on preventing it, and will continue to do so even if that requires inventing more lies. Should they embark on that path, we will continue to fight.