Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian
For many reasons, I am heartbroken about Hillary Clintons loss. I was at high school when I first heard about her, as the lawyer wife of presidential candidate Bill Clinton. I still remember reading about her in Time magazine and finding her impressive. But over the years, so much scandal seemed to attach itself to both Clintons that I didnt actively admire them any more.
Then in 2006, I began writing a novel loosely based on the life of Laura Bush, and for research I read Hillarys memoir Living History. Without a doubt, this book is in part propaganda she was a senator when it was published in 2003. So I took it with a grain of salt, but it made me reflect for the first time on her as a person, on the chronology of her life, her public record, and her treatment by the media. The media is not monolithic, but there have been so many articles, even in publications I deeply respect, that ask some variation of Why Does the Public Dislike Hillary? Reading Living History made me reflect on the self-perpetuating aspect of these articles and on their sexism. Many times, Ive heard people say theres just something they dont like about Clinton, but in my opinion, that something is her gender.
The criticism of Clinton that Id find most amusing, if it werent so annoying, is when people say shes Machiavellian. As far as I can tell, shes spent her career trying to help kids, especially poor kids; trying to advance the cause of womens equality; trying to improve Americas diplomatic relationship with other countries. Imagine how ruthless and power-hungry she must be, say, to want to make sure all children have health insurance.
I didnt use much of what I read in Living History in my novel, although I couldnt resist borrowing one detail. In 1997, Clinton visited Eritrea, where, as she described it, As I stepped off the plane women in brilliantly coloured dresses greeted me by throwing popcorn at me, a welcoming practice meant to protect visitors from evil and to assure good fortune.
Hillary Clinton, thank you for being a pioneer and a role model. Thank you for persevering all these years even when you had to eat what I will euphemistically refer to as dirt. Thank you for your intelligence, dignity, tireless work ethic and toughness.
Today, Im throwing popcorn at you and at all Americans.