“It’s Hillary I can’t stand.” The comment was made by a middle-aged Christian woman. It was almost identical to comments I had overheard the previous day from a group of my colleagues discussing the candidates’ wives.

They weren’t talking politics. They adore Barbara Bush and admire Marilyn Quayle, but they also like Tipper Gore. They were talking about a woman who would make them uncomfortable even if she were a Republican.

Why do we hear so much criticism of Hillary Clinton—especially from the media and from evangelical Christians—when in many respects she resembles the other candidates’ wives?

Is it her religion? All four women are professing Christians. Mrs. Clinton once traveled from church to church in Arkansas giving talks on what it means to be a Methodist.

Is it her résumé? Three of the four women have graduate degrees, and all but Mrs. Clinton have authored books.

Is it her marriage? Both Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Clinton have faced rumors that their husbands have been unfaithful. The Gores went to a marriage counselor after the near death of their son.

Is it her professional success? Here Mrs. Clinton markedly differs from the other three women, and here we may find a clue to evangelical discomfort. She is, according to Time, “a super success … who ranks among the nation’s most powerful lawyers.” A graduate of Yale Law School, Mrs. Clinton has been with a top law firm for the past 15 years. She is on the board of a half-dozen corporations and a score of public-interest groups.

Clearly, she is no Barbara Bush. The First Lady dropped out of college to marry and has devoted her life to helping her husband get ahead.

According to a 1991 ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.