Unlike Clinton, Meir did not start her political career from a lofty perch. She began as a school teacher, an occupation not known to be a speed elevator to political Olympus. She was a woman who led a warrior nation, the necessarily Spartan culture of emergent Israel, during some of its greatest tests, and whose status as a women was neither used as an shield to dismiss criticism, or to claim some sort of superior understanding. Meir was the Iron Lady before the more famous one was given the title.
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was also a true feminist. She did not ride on her husband’s coattails. She did not have all the resources of the fabled Old Boys club at her disposal. Nor did she have the equivalent of the Clinton Foundation (Bill Clinton’s out-of-office power centre) to build her networks, flood her campaign with cash and supply eager personnel for her every effort.
No. It was just Thatcher and her handbag. And yet Margaret Thatcher was one of the greatest leaders Britain has ever had (second only to Winston Churchill, if you ask me), in a country where chauvinism toward women — despite the lip service to the obligatory pieties — was as rich and deep as anywhere in the Western world. The ceilings crashed by Meir and Thatcher weren’t glass — they were reinforced concrete. But these two — and there are other examples — set real milestones and earned their status based on their own efforts, their own skills and their own daring.
Nonetheless, the pretense continues that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is a milestone for women in general.