In the summer of 2006, I had the honor of sitting down for a job interview with then-Senator Hillary Clinton. After years as a progressive activist, I had been recruited by her senior aides as an adviser on blogs and digital media.
The meeting with Hillary was illuminating. Her focus was on building a strong progressive infrastructure and on the importance of online politics. She had a thorough command of every topic we discussed, including Middle East politics, which came up when I mentioned that I was Lebanese-American.
Hillary hired me and I went on to work as her digital strategist for several years. I’ve been a strong Hillary advocate ever since and I’ve spent the 2016 cycle doing everything I can to defend her against scurrilous attacks and to spread the word about her exceptional record and readiness to be America’s first woman president.
I do all this for my daughter, who is now old enough to appreciate the framed letter from Hillary and Bill Clinton welcoming her into the world. We joke that she’ll be the only kid in her class with a single letter from two presidents!
Recently, Ruby Cramer wrote a revealing article where Hillary spoke about what motivates her:
Her words are slow and deliberate and she takes the conversation to this discussion she’s been trying to talk about, to bring up on the trail, as she is again ensnared in a campaign that’s more difficult than expected, in an election dominated by the language of anger and fear. “I am talking about love and kindness,” she says. As Clinton sees it, she’s really talking about a “shorthand” for her personal and political beliefs, for all the impulses that shape what she does and how she does it.
Reading Ruby’s piece, I was reminded of a Sunday morning ten years ago, a week after I joined Hillary’s team. There were reports of trouble in Lebanon and when my phone rang early that morning I wasn’t sure what to expect. It wasn’t a family member. It wasn’t a friend. It was Hillary Clinton, calling to make sure my relatives in Lebanon were OK.
We spoke briefly and I hung up stunned at the empathy and compassion from someone I had met only a week before. In every encounter with Hillary since then, personal or professional, the same person who called me that morning shines through.
It’s why I defend her so fiercely, because I know who she is at the core. No, she isn’t perfect, and yes, I disagree with some of her policies and votes, but no amount of trolling and character attacks will convince me that Hillary is a bad person.