During Barack Obama’s presidency and Eric Holder’s tenure as Attorney General a certain faction on the Left showed its deep discontent with both men. The “yes, but” generally followed and still follows any accomplishment by either man. For example, in spite of Holder’s rebuilding the DOJ and particularly the Civil Rights Division and his historic accomplishments in fighting for civil rights, his time as head of the Department of Justice was reduced to insignificant by so many on the Left because not a “single banker went to jail.” Countless liberals were tweeting disappointment in and anger at AG Holder on the day he resigned for not satisfying their thirst for revenge. He was even condemned for going back to his old law firm. The Left summarily dismissed Holder’s many accomplishments and his storied history because he did not pursue their interests. Can you say “Matt Taibai?”
Likewise, President Obama’s many, many accomplishments are belittled and ridiculed for not going far enough or because he used drones or because “bankers.” Then there is always the argument that Pres. Obama is Bush light. Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders frequently diminishes any accomplishment of President Obama’s, including the historic Paris climate agreement. And the Left shouts, “Hooray!”
I see this same airy dismissal of Hillary’s accomplishments by the Left because she didn’t follow their guidelines of conduct. Of course, none of our elected officials knows exactly what the guidelines because they are like unstated expectations, which always leave us deeply disappointed. A wife never tells her husband she would love to get flowers for every occasion, and although her husband may bring her gifts instead of flowers, she’s always disappointed in him. So has it been with Hillary and many liberals. She has so disappointed us because she has not met our many unstated expectations.
Yes, we have always placed unrealistic, unstated expectations on her, and yes, we are always disappointed in her. We judge her harshly by her actions and statements outside of any historical context or facts for that matter. We’d rather attach a label along with unsavory motives to her and move on to the next grievance.
The grievance du jour is now the time she spent on the Walmart Board of Directors. Her critics like to simplify and demonize her membership on the board with the accusation “she never spoke out about the prohibition of union membership among Walmart employees.” This accusation, like so many others, deserves some historical context. Hillary, the thirty-nine-year-old First Lady of Arkansas, was appointed to the all-white male board of directors after Sam Walton’s wife continued to insist he appoint a female. I am just guessing here, but I imagine she accepted the invitation to join the Board in attempt to effect change, but her influence was limited concerning labor rights. After all, she was among fourteen powerful men who strongly opposed unionization, plus she was the lone liberal on a conservative board.
Hillary’s influence was limited from the beginning because she was not Walton’s first choice, and she was up against a male-dominated hierarchy. “’She was not an outspoken person on labor, because I think she was smart enough to know that if she favored labor, she was the only one,” one member said. “It would only lessen her own position on the board if she took that position.’” Hillary had her own agenda as well. She wanted to influence environmental issues within the company and gender equity in management. “’Early in her tenure, she pressed for information about the number of women in Wal-Mart’s management, worrying aloud that the company’s hiring practices might be discriminatory.’” The information she received probably seriously concerned her—in 1985 there was not a single woman officer among the total of 42 Walmart officers. (From In Sam We Trust by Bob Ortega) In fact, Hillary greatly irritated Walton with her insistence he place qualified women in managerial positions. She had more success pushing her environmental agenda.
Yes, it is true she received the same compensation as every other board member, $18000 a year for her work on the board, which covered 6 meetings a year. It’s also true she at one time had an investment of $100,000 worth of Walmart stocks because she took advantage of the same subsidized stock option Walmart employees were given at the time because this was Sam Walton’s company, not his children’s. It is true, as well, that she returned a $5000 donation she received from Walmart in 2005 because she had strong disagreements with the company about several of its practices.
I see evidence of a serious problem among liberals, especially on the Left, with their purity tests for our political leaders, especially ones who try to implement change. I have no doubt Hillary thought her tenure on the board of Walmart would bring positive rewards, not monetary, but in change. While there, she did see new ground broken in hiring practices and a heightened awareness around environmental issues. But, damn her, she couldn’t force an intractable CEO and conservative board members to budge on unionization. Therefore, I must conclude, the other changes she impacted, were meaningless by the definition of her critics.