Bill Clinton May Have Been President, but He'll Always Be Hillary's Husband to Me

When Bill Clinton was sworn in as the president of the United States, I was 0 years old. I was born later that year, which means I was only 7 when he left office. I remember learning about him in school, but by the time I got there, he was history. He wasn't the president, he was just a president. He was another face on the president poster in the classroom, and not one that deserved very much attention, comparatively. But I was 15 when Hillary Clinton was sworn in as secretary of state. That's about when I started paying attention to politics, which means that to me, Bill Clinton has always just been Hillary Clinton's husband.

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I never really got the chance to know Bill as a candidate or as a president or as a personality. He never got the chance to charm me or disgust me, and by the time I got around to understanding his scandals, it was way past time to care. Everything had been resolved. Like I said: He was history.

But Hillary? In 2009, Hillary was the present. I couldn't vote yet, but it was her name I heard on the news, not Bill's. I knew who he was, but I knew her. I knew her with the same intimacy you know any candidate running for office. She has always -- always -- been who I think of first when I hear "Clinton."

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So to me, Bill Clinton's speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention was perfect. He was giving the same speech first ladies have given for years -- he was introducing himself. He was gentle and charming, and he was coloring in the details of Hillary's life with anecdotes about the glasses she wore when they first met and how many times she refused to marry him. He talked about her as a wife and as a mother, the same way first ladies have used the same stage to talk about the candidates as husbands and fathers for hundreds of years.

I don't think Bill Clinton's speech was anti-feminist. I don't think it reduced Hillary to their relationship -- I think this gentle side she has is something voters need to be reminded of. Hillary IS a mother. She is a wife. That's part of her identity, and calling that anti-feminist is kind of an insult to wives and mothers everywhere. We're modern women, but that doesn't mean we can't fill traditional roles. It has to be okay to continue to be wives and mothers and homemakers if that's what we want to be.

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Bill's speech, I think, was constructed in a way that let us get to know Bill. For me, it was the first time we met. For you, it might have been the second or third or hundredth. But we all have to figure who's he's going to be as a first gentleman, and this introduction was a perfect place to start.

 

Image via Drew Angerer/Getty

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