Book review: Team Hillary

The picture caught my eye. Hillary Clinton wears dark specs and looks at her mobile phone. This image reappears two or three times in the slim book. “Team Hillary” is a short introduction to the person during her race to possibly become the next US President.

team-hillary-margriet-van-der-lindenPlenty other authors and journalists will undoubtedly jump on the bandwagon the coming months. In as far as they haven’t already done so. Regardless of the outcome, there is money to be made from this historic American election.

Margriet van der Linden is not just a journalist and author jumping on the bandwagon. She spent and spends time in the US. In fact, she belonged to the large team of volunteers who helped Hillary Clinton during the 2007-2008 campaign.

This does not mean, Margriet’s book is a hagiography. As she states at the beginning: she wanted answers to a few questions. Questions she delves into, are for instance the problematic public image, ideals, successes and failures, the media, people Hillary Rodham Clinton appeals to.

As such, this book is an ideal introduction. With its 188 pages of story, as well as a Hillary Clinton time line, a short bibliography, notes, etc. – and Hillary’s chocolate-chips cookie recipe – this book can easily be read in a day. Of course: because it is slim, it scratches the surface of many events and issues. Nevertheless, there are a few shrewd and helpful conclusions.

In seven short chapters, most about 30 pages long, it manages to give an overview of the woman, candidate, possible next US President. It starts with the loss of the 2007-2008 campaign. As stated above, Margriet was part of the then “Team Hillary”. One of the major themes in this short chapter is why Hillary Clinton lost and  Barak Obama won.

The next chapter “To be a woman”, starts with the speech Hillary Clinton gave after accepting she had lost to Barak Obama. The chapter tells a bit about Hillary’s background and early years. It mentions a few early scandals, explains quite a few distasteful Trump remarks. It is exactly this kind of information which clarifies a lot to non-Americans, watching developments from a considerable distance.

“Dog in the basket” is one of the interesting chapters which goes into the role of the media. It is their inability to deal with women who do not fit the 19th century “Angel in the Home” image – nor wish to comply with it – which are so problematic to Clinton and far too many other women. The theme recurs in the next chapter.

It and the next chapter explain why a large part of the media and a small slice of the American people have huge problems with Hillary Clinton. Of course, such problems not only occur in the US media and people. Women the world over are familiar with these. As Henry A. Sheinkopf more or less states:  what people perceive is all important.

What is also still important: even if there were a candidate with a better CV and more experience, more intelligent than Hillary Clinton, such a female candidate would still face an uphill struggle to beat any other male candidate. This applies to a fight for the job of US President – and plenty other jobs.

The last two chapters deal with Bill and the possibility of Hillary winning and becoming the US’ first female President. Preceding chapters showed how Hillary could be a positive or negative factor before and while her husband was US President. Now Bill Clinton is the similar factor.

“Team Hillary” also goes into the role of many people who help and facilitate Hillary’s presidential campaign. Why are so many women backing her? Is it just because she is a woman? Or is there more to it?

One of the last few paragraphs concludes “… I fear people do not really want to get to know her – the woman … Is this sexism? Yes. But the positive factor is, that Hillary Clinton has been familiar with this since her early life … it is the story of her life. ...” (p 187).

As a highly readable short introduction, Margriet van der Linden’s book “Team Hillary, a woman in the White House” is hard to beat. It helps understand the influence of media, perceived image, the difficulties of being a woman wanting to be accepted on one’s own terms for one’s capabilities, intelligence, hard work.

Even if one is no great fan of Hillary Clinton, who is human and has her faults, one still feels respect for the woman who continues fighting. A third Obama term is impossible. The other candidate and what he stands for are simply too awful. It is to be hoped, the US is finally ready for a female President, after so many other countries including so-called third-world ones have led the way.

“Team Hillary”, Margriet van der Linden, pp 208, Querido, Amsterdam, September 2016. Unfortunately: only available in Dutch.

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