Hillary Rodham Clinton’s relationship with Bill Clinton propelled one, and maybe two people into the White House. How did they manage it? The answer lies within their complex relationship.
The two were an unlikely couple. He dated several women at once with “no honest communication,” because he was afraid of commitment. Bill charmed women with his good looks, intelligence, and charisma. Hillary was looking for a man who would take her to the White House. To find the answer of what attracted them to one another, we have to go back to their childhoods and find what shaped them.
Hillary Clinton’s History
Hillary Clinton’s mother, Dorothy Rodham’s, childhood has been described as “Dickensian,” which brings to mind poor, homeless children living in “bleak scenes of hardship.”
Dorothy’s father divorced her mother when she was eight-years-old, which unlike today, was rare in 1927. He claimed Dorothy’s mother both abandoned and abused their children.
The court awarded her father custody of both Dorothy and her younger brother, which was even rarer at the time. However, both of Dorothy’s parents were “dysfunctional.”
Her father sent the children to his own mother and father, who were ill-suited to raising the two abandoned children.
When Dorothy defied them and went trick-or-treating one Halloween, her grandmother punished her. The punishment was beyond extreme. She confined Dorothy to her room for a year, and let her out only for school.
When Dorothy was 14, her mother lured her back to Chicago by telling her that her new step-father would pay for her university education. Yet when Dorothy returned, she discovered her mother only wanted a free housekeeper. Dorothy said:
“I’d hoped so hard that my mother would love me that I had to take the chance and find out. When she didn’t, I had nowhere else to go.”
In Hillary’s autobiography, “Living History” (2003), she talked about Dorothy’s difficulties and strength through adversity:
“I thought often of my own mother’s neglect and mistreatment at the hands of her parents and grandparents, and how other caring adults filled the emotional void to help her. I’m still amazed at how my mother emerged from her lonely early life as such an affectionate and levelheaded woman.”
Bill Clinton’s History
Bill’s father died in a car crash before he was born. His mother Virginia Cassidy Blythe left him with her parents in Hope, Ark for two years, while she went to New Orleans, La. to finish nursing school. They were strict disciplinarians, but he recalled:
“My grandparents had a lot to do with my early commitment to learning. They taught me to count and read. I was reading little books when I was 3.”
After his mother returned, she married a man who was an abusive drinker. When Bill was 14 and six feet tall, he stepped between the man and his abusive behavior.
What Hillary And Bill Had In Common
They met at Yale, and Bill was immediately attracted. He found “another person, equally bright, just as driven to break barriers and change the world.”
In the classic story of meeting, they noticed one another early on at Yale Law School. Rather than approach her, he watched her. Finally, Hillary walked up to him and said, in essence:
“Look, if we’re going to spend all this time staring at each other, we should at least get to know who the other is.”
Bill wrote that both of them were complex, and her history was “close to his in its crazy dynamics.” He wrote in his biography:
“She had thick dark blond hair and wore eyeglasses and no makeup. But she conveyed a sense of strength and self-possession I had rarely seen in anyone, man or woman.”
In another version of their meeting, Bill follows Hillary around campus, but she was still dating David Rupert. Bill joined her in the registration line. The two eventually went off and talked their way into the closed Yale Art Museum. Bill wrote:
“Before long. I leaned over and put my head on her shoulder. It was our first date.”
They both sensed each would change the other’s life. It was their political and personal similarities that made their ultimate goal of Bill reaching the White House possible.
The real question now is: will Hillary’s life experience be enough to let her beat her 2016 contender, Senator Bernie Sanders?