For women around the world, and the U.S. in particular, Hillary Clinton was much more than a presidential candidate for the 2008 election. On the surface, it appears that she suffered a significant loss. But if we look historically at her campaign and how close she came to winning her party's nomination, we see the forging of an important path.
In her own words:
You can be so proud, that from now on, it will be unremarkable for a woman to win primary state victories; unremarkable to have a woman in a close race to be our nominee; unremarkable to think that a woman can be president of the United States - and that is truly remarkable, my friends.
Clinton once said that she was a Senator because of women and men who traveled in 1848 to Seneca Falls, N.Y. to participate in the first convention of women's rights in U.S. history. As Clinton explained, "My mother was born before women could vote. My daughter got to vote for her mother for president."
In that context, Clinton's candidacy, as she pointed out, put about 18 million cracks in the highest glass ceiling, "And the light is shining through like never before," Clinton said, "filling us with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier the next time."
These are heartening words for women and men who hope to see a female U.S. president in their lifetime. But it's unlikely to occur the next, or any, election unless voters refuse to accept hearsay as journalism. It's unlikely, too, if we continue to confuse celebrity status presenters and commentators with anything other than infotainment and if sexist innuendo goes unchallenged.
One of CNN's commentators and a committed Clinton detractor during the 2008 election campaign, Gloria Borger, recently wrote that Democrats have no choice but to defend Hillary Clinton on issues like the email question because she is "their putative nominee." She quoted an unnamed, supposed "Democratic strategist" to "support" the view that Democrats are stuck with Clinton - like it or not.
Referring to Clinton as "Bigfoot Hillary," Borger proposed that there is no one of substance in the Democratic field (dismissing three impressive potential contenders). Borger concludes that should Clinton stumble, the party is in big trouble. Referring to the email matter, she added:
Those Democrats who want to defend her say there's a problem -- they're not quite sure what they're defending, because they're not sure exactly what happened, or why. In other words, the wagons are circled, but the surrogates are left outside.
This is the level of journalism to which we've become accustomed -- baseless sniping at selected candidates. Who are these Democrats? How does Borger know they're unsure? Whose wagons are circled? How about some expert testimony from named sources?
If this is how we're going to go about electing a president, believing baseless claims, then it's not just Democrats who are stuck with problems they're purportedly too dense to recognize. The entire U.S. is in deep trouble because we have ceased to expect of those whose job it is to inform that they don't make it up as they go.
There is no way to stop the barrage of insulting, deceptive attacks that will be leveled at Clinton, or any candidate for that matter, but the least we can do is refuse to be influenced by people who distort the facts, resort to fiction and refuse to do the level of research that separates journalists with integrity from imposters.
Kathleen has been a featured blogger with Huffington Post since 2005. She also blogs here.