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Hillary’s First Speech Attacked Liberal Black

As we have noted previously, Mrs. Clinton began her political career with her commencement speech at Wellesley College. (Her well-connected roommate having threatened a student strike if Hillary was not allowed to speak.)

But, lest we forget, the most memorable aspect of young Hillary’s speech was her rude and bizarre attack upon the invited speaker, Senator Edward Brooke, the first black American to have been elected to the US Senate.

From “American Evita: Hillary Clinton’s Path to Power,” by Christopher Andersen, pp 16-17:

CHAPTER 2

… Hillary was following the day’s main commencement speaker, Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke. Only two years before, Hillary had campaigned for Brooke, a liberal Republican and an African-American, as president of Wellesley’s Young Republicans.

But Hillary had changed. Dropping her prepared text, she wasted no time lambasting her predecessor at the podium. “Senator Brooke,” she began, “part of the problem for empathy with professed goals is that empathy doesn’t do anything.” What her generation wanted now, she said, was action. She ended with a classmate’s poem that damned “The Hollow Men of anger and bitterness.”

Brooke, obviously singled out as one of the “Hollow Men,” was stunned, hurt—and convinced that this was no extemporaneous speech. “As far as I could tell, she was not responding to anything I was saying,” he later observed. “She came that day with an agenda, pure and simple.”

But Hillary claimed she was reacting viscerally to what Brooke had said. He had mentioned the Vietnam War and growing racial tensions only obliquely; for the most part, Hillary said, his was just another “onward-and-upward” graduation speech. But what really rankled Hillary was her perception that the senator’s remarks were somehow pro-Richard Nixon – a call to arms for any self-respecting campus activist in the 1960s.

In response, Hillary offered nothing more than the muddled, sophomoric peace-and-love dogma that was so prevalent on campuses at the time. And, predictably, when it was over, Hillary’s mesmerized classmates leaped up to their feet and cheered.

A sizable number of people in the audience were incensed—including short, sullen Hugh Rodham, a dyed-in-the-wool Republican who admitted that at that moment he wanted to “lie on the ground and crawl away.” Hillary’s father stiffened when he approached her after the ceremony. His reaction hardly surprised her. Even if she had not ambushed the distinguished senator from Massachusetts, Hillary knew her father—unlike the other dads at Wellesley that day–would never throw his arms around his daughter and tell her he was proud of her…

No matter. Once her father departed for home, she ran to Wellesley’s Lake Waban, doffed her graduation gown to reveal a bathing suit underneath, and—in violation of the college’s strict against swimming in the lake—dived in. When she emerged, her clothes were gone. Wellesley’s president, Ruth Adams, had spotted Hillary swimming and, seething over the sneak attack on Senator Brooke, ordered security to confiscate them.

Adams was not alone. Hugh Rodham fumed about his daughter’s impertinent remarks all the way back to Park Ridge…

Some things never change.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Wednesday, January 16th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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