I was 13 years old when the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal caused the impeachment of her husband, President Clinton, in 1998. I was just a teenager who did not fully understand the magnitude of what spousal betrayal and utter humiliation entailed. Still, I remember being in complete awe of Hillary Clinton and her decision to stay. The older I become, the more I admire her resilience. The latest of her public debacles is the court-ordered release of another batch of emails from Hillary’s private email server. Analysts nationwide have spent the past week thoroughly reading and scrutinizing tens of thousands of pages worth of emails Hillary probably never thought twice about sending. Some analysts have made predictions about what this might do to her presidential campaign, while others have used the emails to turn Hillary into the punchline of some very sour jokes. Let’s face it, warm socks and not knowing how to use a fax machine can be funny.
However, being thirty-seven years my senior, I have been able to glean a very different perspective. I see a woman in a potentially vulnerable situation able to abate career suicide and coming out stronger in the end. In fact, it was post e-mail catastrophe that Hillary Clinton’s Facebook page gained her one-millionth follower. So just how did Hillary manage to grab this near-catastrophic public exposure bull by the horns? What follows is not only a comprehensive list of what Hillary did in the aftermath of her latest mistake, but also proves to be pretty useful advice for deleting your own life-sized blunders.]
- First and foremost, amidst public scandal, make sure your hair is as flawless as your alibi. Historically, Hillary Clinton has been known to confront humiliation with great hair and this occasion was no different. So whether it is your husband’s extra-marital affair or your private emails that just went public, there is no situation so desperate that is cannot be alleviated with a little heat and some pomade.
- When doubts about you are raised and you are being called “untrustworthy” at best, be prepared to face adversity with your best face. Hillary has been known to rock some jewel-toned power suits, and in the past her “bright-is-best” motif has proven successful. But in this case, with a nude lipstick, simple jewelry, and clad in tweed, Hillary Rodham Clinton teaches us that when your reputation is called into question, it is best to perfect and simplify your demeanor before tackling your declaration of innocence. This leads me to…
- Publicly address issues, but do so sternly and calmly. Whether or not you admit fault will depend on whether or not you are at fault, I guess. But the facts will be beside the point if you are able to publicly address people in a respectable manner. Hillary’s UN press release in March, when news of her private emails first surfaced, reveals a collected and serious Hillary Clinton. She has been quoted as saying “I want the public to read my email”. Whether she really feels this way is irrelevant, the fact is Hillary’s nothing-to-hide façade is admirable. So do not get caught up in refuting the details and defaming your adversaries when you should be admitting defeat. Worry more about increasing trust rather than your decreasing popularity, apparently the rest should follow.
- Smile! Hillary has one of the best smiles of any politician and woman in Washington. Her chortles have been photographed on more than one occasion and when time resumes this is what you will want documented for posterity, not your tears. Caution! Before you start practicing how to curl those lips upwards, there is one caveat; this tip only works if it is sincere. But whether it is your rival’s outfit or your own defeat, there is always something to smile about. So when your life appears disrupted and you are threatened with becoming a public spectacle, remember to shine those pearly whites until the final curtain call.
- Save that pep-talk for someone other than yourself. Even when you feel you have evidence to the contrary, you are not the only woman being talked about. In fact, it may well be the case people have forgotten all about your latest faux-pas and are on to something bigger than you. You will only really notice this if you learn to praise the success of others even when it seems enviable to you at the moment. Hillary teaches us that the most important speech you prepare may not be aimed towards your defamer or even yourself. To this end, knowing that the United States Women’s National team was aiming to claim their third FIFA Women’s World Cup yesterday, Hillary made and sent the girls an encouraging video reminding them she believed in them. For someone who has had a constant struggle with the simple technology of sending a fax, this was probably not a simple feat, but she found a way to bolster other women. So when you’ve made some less than decent choices or your life seems to be crumbling down around you, take a five minute break from all the turmoil to think of others. Find someone to encourage and seek out someone who could use your support, pour out all that vengeful energy and channel it towards the fortifying of someone other than yourself. This change of pace might seem counterproductive, but the fact is people always respond much better to a selfless heroine than a self-victimizing martyr because unassuming grace is always more attractive than pretentiousness.
When it comes to having your failures exposed, there is no woman who can manage quite like Hillary. That is because when it comes to branding your public image no one knows damage control quite like Hillary Rodham Clinton.