Editor’s Note: Patti Solis Doyle, a CNN political commentator, served in the White House as a senior adviser to then-first lady Hillary Clinton, was chief of staff on Clinton’s 2000 and 2006 Senate campaigns, and was Clinton’s presidential campaign manager in 2007 and early 2008. She currently is president of Solis Strategies, a Washington-based consulting firm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.
Patti Solis Doyle says Donald Trump is wrong in suggesting being a woman has helped Hillary Clinton
Clinton has been the target of bias and unfair criticism, as have other women, Doyle says
On Tuesday night, Donald Trump argued that, “If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5% of the vote. … The only thing she’s got going on is the women’s card.”
My immediate reaction? I threw the plum I was eating at the TV, then tweeted, “If Hillary were a man, she’d have been president 25 years ago.”
Trump’s argument – and my reaction to it – raise an important question. Are Clinton’s accomplishments less impressive, or more impressive, because she’s a woman? How you answer should help you decide how to vote in November.
There’s really only one way to make sense of Trump’s position. He believes Clinton’s had an easier road because she’s a woman. I, on the other hand, think she’s had a tougher road, which makes her even more qualified to be President than if she were a man.
Let’s start with the facts. After graduating with honors from Wellesley and Yale Law, Clinton worked as an investigator on the Watergate Committee, taught law at The University of Arkansas, served as the chairwoman of the Legal Services Corp. (a $300 million per year enterprise, at the time), made partner at one of the country’s oldest and most respected law firms, served on the boards of three public companies, and, for many years, was the principal breadwinner for her family. Throw in her experience as a best-selling author, first lady, U.S. senator, secretary of state, co-chair of a global foundation, and you get the idea.
Along the way, she found time to volunteer at the Yale Child Study Center (researching early childhood development) and New Haven Hospital (helping victims of child abuse). She handled pro bono child welfare cases throughout her legal career. She founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and helped lead its national partner, The Children’s Defense Fund. She led a school reform effort for teacher testing and higher standards for curriculum and class size.
Trump thinks Clinton succeeded as a token. Having worked for her for 16 years, I know better. She excelled through talent and hard work. When you give Clinton a job, she crushes it.
On top of all the work, she also dealt with criticism over her hairstyles, her clothes, her legs, the decibel level of her voice, even over whether to take her husband’s last name when they married. Worst of all, she dealt with criticism over her ambition. Let’s remember, she was breaking down barriers nearly every step of the way.
Sexism was more blatant and acceptable back then. She was the first female partner at her law firm, the first female head of the Legal Services Corp., one of the first female professors at her law school, and the first female board member for at least one of those big companies.
Trump – heir to a real estate fortune and recipient of a $1 million loan from his father to “get started” – has nothing on Clinton, daughter of a small-business owner.
You could look at this as just another Trump insult, but I hope you’ll think hard about the question his insult raises. I hope Trump’s attacks prompt voters to look at Clinton’s record – and the bias (intended or unconscious) that she overcame in her career.
But here’s what I find truly inspiring about all this. While Trump still needs to be taught about women’s struggle for equality over the past 50 years, Clinton’s trying to move the country past it.
Because of her own experience as a young lawyer and a working mom, Clinton knows that we don’t need equal pay and family leave because they are women’s issues. We need equal pay and family leave because they are family issues.
Clinton once told me when I was dealing with sexism in my own career, “Patti, the best way to prove them wrong is to win.”
Ladies (and gentlemen), let’s win!
Patti Solis Doyle, a CNN political commentator, served in the White House as a senior adviser to then-first lady Hillary Clinton, was chief of staff on Clinton’s 2000 and 2006 Senate campaigns, and was Clinton’s presidential campaign manager in 2007 and early 2008. She currently is president of Solis Strategies, a Washington-based consulting firm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.