I'm trying to formulate my thoughts about why couldn't/can't support Hillary Clinton and I'm realizing that my reasons trascend the political and are, of course, extremely personal and, at the end of the day, probably say more about me than her. (Edited to add: Hillary supporters remember that phrase: my reasons...say more about me than her.)
It all comes down to two things: cheating and character.
If you have never had a cheating affect you directly then you probably won't understand.
The first time I remember being aware of Hillary Clinton was in 1992 when she and then Governor Bill Clinton went on 60 Minutes to address his alleged affair with Gennifer Flowers and his alleged other inappropriate extra-marital relationships. I think Hillary was wearing a blue suit and that godawful headband. I remember feeling very uncomfortable listening to Bill not answer the question "Did you have an affair?" 26 ways from Sunday. I squirmed.
Bill Clinton was never my first pick for president (I was an idealistic, fresh-out-of-college Green Party member back then), and I sat there watching and getting increasingly more frustrated with his inability to give a definitive answer to the question. This was my first taste of "Slick Willy," and my first real exposure to Hillary. I could not believe that Hillary just sat there there allowing herself to made a fool of by her husband. I felt sorry for her.
In 1992, I was a year and half out of college and about three years out of a long-term relationship where I discovered my boyfriend had cheated on me. We stuck it out for a year beyond that, but I never trusted him again. But worse than that, I didn't trust myself because the person I believed in turned out to be a liar. That experience crushed my self-esteem and it took three years of clawing and scraping to climb back up to feeling good about myself again. I vowed that if I was ever in a relationship and was cheated on, that would be the end of that.
Additionally, my dad had multiple affairs while he was married to my mom. She had the strength and courage in the early 70's to finally leave him, and she was a single mom with two kids under the age of five. When I was old enough to ask my dad why he cheated on my mom, his response was, "It's a man's prerogative." Have I mentioned that he's Italian? That was hard for a teenager to take, but even then I remember thinking, "You're an asshole."
So I sat there that Sunday evening and watched this woman say she was "no Tammy Wynette." and I knew and she knew—we all knew—that by choosing to stand by her man, some kind of deal must have been struck. How could she not be crushed? How could she pick herself back up...then go back to that womanizer? Was she suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? I lost respect for her that day. (P.S. I am a feminist. When I hear women fawning all over Bill Clinton I want to throw. up. Here is a man who used his power and stature to try and silence and discredit countless women who tried to speak out, and people believed him, not them. And he's married to Hillary.)
Then Bill Clinton was elected president, twice, and we all know what happened then. Accusations. Scandals. Monica Lewinsky. For me, the Clintons were tainted. Bad juju. Especially since they always seemed to emerge from every scandal unscathed. I simply cannot separate them from their scandals and if I were a big conspiracy junkie, well, I'd be downright frightened of them.
The last straw for me was Hillary deciding to run for Senate and the Clintons moving to a state just because it was there that she had the best shot at it. I wondered why a couple with deeper connections to the midwest and the south would choose to live in New York? That move was not without its scandals as well; they had supporters donate furniture for their new house (which I think is an uncouth practice), and even appropriated some furniture from the White House for their new home before being called on it. Oops! Major character issues here.
My feelings of indifference and disappointment towards Hillary Clinton run long and deep. If she had kicked Bill to the curb, I might be supporting her now. Someone who claims to stand up and be voice for women doesn't stick with a cheater. Every marriage has issues and sometimes those issues require hard work. But cheating? That's a deal-breaker for me. That's not the example I want to set for my children.
If she had run for U.S. Senate in Arkansas or Illinois, I might be supporting her now.
If she hadn't voted to deem the Iranian National Guard a terroritst organization, I might be supporting her now.
If she had apologized for her vote to authorize the war in Iraq, I might be supporting her now.
If I didn't feel she had a seriously flawed character, I might be supporting her now.
She showed me what she was made of. And I didn't like what I saw.
Now, I realize that no one is perfect, especially not politicians. I could rattle off a long list of politicians who did some heinous things but were still elected, but I can't separate my heart from my head. As long as I get to vote, I'm voting for someone I admire.
I haven't given much thought to this being a historical election. When I made my decision to support John Edwards. I looked at the issues. I watched the debates. I have never felt that because of my mixed race or gender that I had to align myself with a candidate for that reason alone. I don't feel I am compromising anything by not picking one or the other. The best candidate for president suspended his bid yesterday and now I have to choose. Before it was easy. Now I feel forced. Caged. I don't like that feeling. I want to support my Democratic candidate and I will. Whatever it takes to get a Democrat into the White House I will do.
I have big problems with Barack, too, but in terms of who is more inspiring he wins hands down. Hillary doesn't inspire me. She doesn't speak for me. I associate her corporations, lobbyists, power grabs and having to curry favors. If she wants me to sit up and take notice, she's going to have seem less like a neocon and more like a progressive agent of change.
The way she and her husband have conducted themselves in this campaign has been appalling. Sending our her attack dog husband to stir the shit? No thanks. Engaging in nit-picky personal attacks during a debate? Instant turn off. Claiming victory in Florida? Smarmy. Whining that she's been snubbed because Obama didn't shake her hand at the State of the Union? What are we, in junior high? No, this is the presidency that is at stake here. So when is she going to start conducting herself like one?
I guess what I'm trying to say is, Hillary—we started out badly. You never had a chance with me. To change my mind, you're going to have to do a lot more than adopt John Edwards' talking points. You're going to have to make me believe you care about this country and everyone in it, because right now I don't.
But if I have to, I'll vote for you.