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Shallow media misplace focus on Hillary Clinton

Wrapping up an eight-day U.S. State Department tour of India, China and Southeast Asia, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, arguably the most politically powerful woman alive today, took her moment in the spotlight to pound home the United States' commitment to rooting out terrorism.

She used this stage to drive home the point that the U.S. expects its allies - particularly Pakistan - to help further that goal.

It was a particularly proud moment for the U.S. secretary of state.

Clear communication was achieved throughout the visits. Clinton's presence extended opportunities for diplomacy and cooperation, and she kept the focus of her trip clearly defined at each stop.

She seized every opportunity to represent her country and its goals clearly to the nations she visited and to the world.

But Hillary Rodham Clinton can never simply be secretary of state.

No. First, Hillary Rodham Clinton must be a woman. And so when Clinton stands at a podium and insists Pakistan pull its support from terrorist groups throughout the world, all the viewers back home get is non-stop commentary about how she wore red lipstick and how ugly and old she's getting.

This woman has a law degree from Yale. After her 1975 marriage she insisted on keeping her maiden name - Rodham - as she considered it important to keep her professional life separate from her husband's.

Until Bill Clinton was elected president of the United States, she brought home a larger paycheck.

A deep and abiding interest in children's law led to article after article being published and the founding of an organization to help troubled youths in Arkansas.

As Bill Clinton served as governor of Arkansas, Hillary Rodham Clinton worked full time, balanced a series of state committees on the side, chaired the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession, and served on the board of directors for the New World Foundation.

In 1992, as Bill Clinton began his campaign for the presidency, he often quipped that in electing him voters would get 'two for the price of one,' signaling the role Rodham Clinton would play during his time in office.

As first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton redefined that role. She had her own office in the West Wing, was treated as any other adviser to the president and played a significant role in developing and advocating passage of legislation.

Then, in 2000, she became the first former first lady to run for political office after leaving the White House. As a senator from New York, Hillary proved herself a political force to be reckoned with in her own right. As her husband faded into the background, she ran a fierce and competitive campaign for the Democratic nomination in the presidential race, losing to Barack Obama.

Obama, after being elected, chose her to be his secretary of state, and (as with everything she has done) Rodham Clinton has redefined the position, taking an active interest in international history, politics and economics.

Active rather than passive, she has headed major reforms in the state and defense departments, gone toe-to-toe with Vice President Joe Biden more than once, and yet again established herself as a major political player, this time on the international field.

So when pundits, anchors and so-called experts dropped their jaws at the audacity she demonstrated - to show her face on camera without make-up - they demonstrated only one sad fact: As a woman in America, it does not matter how intelligent or successful you are. It does not matter how powerful you are or how deep and wide your sphere of influence in the world. What matters is how you look to men, and if you are 'attractive' the way the media demands you be attractive.

Hundreds of polls, websites and blogs are debating 'make-up or no make-up,' bloggers are demanding that Rodham Clinton cover her face, saying she's ugly.

I have to wonder: How many of us can hear over the cacophony created by the argument of what chemicals Clinton should smear on her skin, the incredibly intelligent, highly educated, capable, confident woman who represents our nation to the world, doing her job?

How many of us even know where Hillary was when she popped on camera without make-up? And how many of our daughters are learning that it's far more important to wear nice make-up than to graduate from Yale Law School, have a highly successful career and become the most powerful woman in the world?

Even one is too many.

Callie Vandewiele lives in Eagle Creek.



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