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The right woman at the right time

Lee A. Daniels

Hillary Clinton’s wrap-up last week of the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency — the first woman in American history to head the ticket of a major political party — quickly set in place the Democratic “tag-team” ready to aid in taking on what is still the “Donald Trump Republican Party reality show.”

On June 9 President Obama met with Clinton’s primary opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, at the White House in the morning, and then quickly posted on social media his official endorsement of her. That was soon followed by endorsements from Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

The speed and smoothness of the effort — which will eventually be augmented by Sanders’s fulfilling the pledge he made to Obama to work to defeat Trump — presented a sharp contrast to the disarray still roiling both the Trump campaign and the broader Republican organization. And it showed how eager the Democrats are to get to the general-election stage of campaigning.

But right now it’s also important to note that Clinton’s gaining the nomination is not only a great personal achievement but also a significant moment in the history of America.

For one thing, it does re-affirm, as did Obama’s 2008 breakthrough election, that at least for one of America’s major political parties and its constituents, competing to be leader of the United States, and of the Free World, isn’t “reserved” just for white men. Clinton’s primary victory underscores what has always been true: that the talent-pool of American society is not stacked in any sort of pecking order of those characteristics that were once used to keep certain Americans from rising as far as their abilities could take them.

It was important for Obama, via his election, to make that point first: The primary reason is that he was the best person at that moment for the enormous task of saving the U.S. from economic ruin and tackling the mess the Bush Administration had made of foreign and domestic affairs. Secondly, the racist reaction to his being America’s president exposed how virulent anti-black racism and other kinds of bigotry remain in American society. That assertion’s truth is now embodied in the Republican Party’s nominee for president, Donald Trump.

In other words, what Trump represents is a major reason why Hillary Clinton is the right woman to now take possession of the presidency.

Of course, she’s earned it on her own, too, by her long service to the American people. For her name substitute that of Eleanor Roosevelt or Michelle Obama to truly understand the meaning of the fierce criticism she’s always endured from some women as well as men as being calculating, or tough, or brassy, or bossy: This is a strong woman who does not respect those barriers that really exist only to confine women to second-class status. That’s why her achievements include (beyond, needless to say, of having been a first lady) having been a twice-elected United States Senator, having mounted a hard-fought campaign eight years ago for the Democratic nomination, and then having served as Secretary of State for six years.

Some now want to hold her length of public service and her longstanding ambition to be President against her. Of course, that’s never been put forward as a criticism of the men — Abraham Lincoln, the Roosevelts, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, or Barack Obama, to name a few — who’ve gained the presidency. No man has gotten to the White House without an extraordinarily deep reservoir of self-confidence, unshakable ambition and first-class skill at being a politician. And, for most of those on the list, a desire to move American society forward.

That’s what Hillary Clinton has.

The contrast between Clinton and Donald Trump could not be sharper in terms of the attitude and skill-set it takes to lead the government of the United States, to be the president. Nor could the contrast be greater in terms of personal discipline, moral character, compassion and a commitment to advancing equal opportunity in American society. That’s why Hillary Clinton is the right woman at the right time for the presidency. She is what American society and the world community need now more than ever.

Lee A. Daniels, a longtime journalist, is a keynote speaker and author whose books include “Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America.” He is writing a book on the Obama years and the 2016 election. He can be reached at