Six years ago, I laid eyes on my brand-new grandson, and a wave of compassion washed over me, sweeping all of my career ambitions out to sea.
Or, wait. Maybe that happened after.
After I held my grandson in my arms, I mean, and tugged on his little hospital-issue knit cap, thus triggering a softening in me so profound that I immediately saw him for the campaign boost he was meant to be. I’m not planning to run for anything (see first paragraph, above), but if I were, he’d be just the prop I would need.
Mind you, I had no idea any of this was going on inside me until I heard New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin explain what happens to a woman when she becomes a grandmother. As a panelist last week on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Sorkin raised the issue of just what it means for Hillary Clinton now that Chelsea Clinton is pregnant.
“Can we talk about the human drama that is Grandma Clinton?” Sorkin said. “I don’t want to be cynical, and I’m not suggesting anyone’s having a baby for election purposes, but—”
Undeterred by his fellow panelists’ groans, he continued.
“It’s going to change the dynamic of the campaign,” he said.
How might that be, you wonder?
“It’s a softening. There’s a compassion thing,” Sorkin said.
I’m a fan of Sorkin’s work, but am I the only one who was surprised that this 37-year-old finantough cial columnist is such an expert on the transformational magic of grandmothering? He knows way more than I do about that whole softening and compassion thing, and I’ve got three grandkids. How did I miss this?
But let’s not pick on Sorkin. He’s had plenty of company in recent days.
NBC’s David Gregory: “Does the fact that she’s going to become a grandmother, on top of some of the other considerations, factor in?”
Newsday’s Ellis Henican: “Will Hillary get a baby bump?”
USA Today’s Catalina Camia: “It’s unclear how Chelsea’s pregnancy will affect Hillary Clinton, who is considering a race for president in 2016.”
The Christian Science Monitor’s Linda Feldmann: “Perhaps it’s sexist even to ask the question — how will a grandchild affect her decision — but until she announces either way, it will be out there.”
“It” being the rampant genderspecific speculation started, fueled and dragged out for months by a bunch of journalists who apparently don’t know that a woman can love a child without burning through brain cells.
And now, let us pause to say: God bless CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“I have to be honest. I have a time imagining any potential male presidential candidate who is expecting a grandchild — anyone talking about what it will mean for his 2016 race, race, race,” his voice echoed on the lonely high road.
Look, I can’t speak for soon-tobe grandmother Hillary Clinton. We all process this milestone in our own way.
I, for example, had to rush out and buy caped Superman pajamas for our grandsons. That’s because the Man of Steel was born not on the planet Krypton but in the city of Cleveland, and Grandma needs them to know this. As for comparing him with Batman, don’t get me started.
I do think a wife and mother who traveled 956,733 miles to 112 countries in four years has maybe figured out how to juggle love for family and service to her country. And though she’s one tough woman, Hillary all but melts when she’s in the same orbit as her beloved Chelsea, so I’d say she’s got that whole softening thing already covered.
All of this, of course, is just more speculation, as she continues to keep us in the dark on her plans.
For now, Hillary Clinton is a future grandmother counting the days .
Meanwhile, we can look forward to that next round of blazing headlines after she’s caught shopping for onesies.
You know it’s coming.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and an essayist for Parade magazine.