The Love Song of H. Rodham Clinton

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

“Maybe next to Michael Dukakis’s, it is the least romantic, poetic and uplifting Democratic campaign in decades.” – David Brooks on Hillary Clinton today.

Unpoetic? Hillary Clinton? No, no, no, and again no. Conceded: Hillary Clinton doesn’t mouth the familiar campaign jingles about “hope” and “change” and the “best America is yet to come.” Her poetry is darker, wilder, more dangerous, more interesting.

Hillary’s is the poetry of the vice president who arrives on time every single day, answers email promptly, meets every quota, always leaves her desktop clear – and then bafflingly loses the top job to somebody the board regards as more creative and charismatic.

It’s the poetry of the student with the perfect resume—excellent grades, first trombone, 100 hours of community service—rejected by Princeton in favor of a friendless geek who scored 800 on the math SAT.

It’s the poetry of the little girl who wakes at four to strap on skates and practice her figures with grinding determination—only to lose the big competition to another who never worked as hard but who was born with an unsought gift of grace.

It’s the poetry of the nice guy who has lost the girl of his dreams to a bad boy … the poetry of the envious accountant who tallies the wealth of the risk-defying entrepreneur … the poetry of the dutiful, the conscientious, the tidy, the punctual. They too have their hopes and aspirations—and also their disappointments, their resentments, their hatreds. Isn’t it time somebody sung their story?

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.   

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Update from Atlantic reader Mike Karabinos on Conor’s new post on the Clinton candidacy:Hillary is the Stannis of this race. She may be next in line, but no one wants her as King.”