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Hillary Clinton's dog days in Berkeley fail to add to her record as a liberal

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JUNE 08, 2016

When I first heard Hillary had lived in Berkeley during the ‘70s, I wanted to picture her as an activist. I wanted to imagine that her mission to run for the Oval Office was inspired by her time here in the Bay, home of the Free Speech Movement.

Berkeley would feel more revolutionary if Clinton, who will likely be the first female ever to clinch the nomination for president by a major party, was part of its local history.

But like The Temptations played throughout that summer of 1971 when Hillary lived in Berkeley: “It was just my imagination, running away with me.”

Her days here were short-lived and more or less apolitical. They don’t add to her record as a liberal. In her autobiography, Hillary wrote, “Bill and I shared a small apartment near a big park not far from the University of California at Berkeley campus where the Free Speech Movement started in 1964.”

Traveling 3,000 miles from Yale Law School, she came to the East Bay to intern for Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein, a small left-leaning law firm in Oakland.

The firm was known for representing more than 700 students arrested during a 1964 Free Speech Movement sit-in and Huey Newton, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party. Yet, Hillary never worked directly on such cases. According to her autobiography, she spent most of her time assisting lawyer Malcolm “Mal” Burnstein on a child custody case.

The other details of Clinton’s sejour in Berkeley are mostly about Bill and Hill’s honeymoon stage. Bill followed Hillary to Berkeley, putting off his own career to develop their relationship. Hillary wrote in her autobiography: “He had decided, he told me, that we were destined for each other, and he didn’t want to let me go just after he’d found me.”

Their earlier romance is reminiscent of simpler times, when her record was uncomplicated.

When the tabloids and massive campaign donations didn’t exist. When she likely did her own housekeeping. Some guess Billary’s Berkeley abode may have been located somewhere on Derby Street.

One of Hillary Clinton’s biggest battles today is her inability to win support from young progressives, who are sickened by the millions she’s received from big interests. She struggles to backpedal her flip-flops on gay marriage, the Iraq war and other issues.

The cute details of her time in Berkeley — Did you know that Hillary baked Bill a peach pie while they lived in Berkeley? — become laughable when more controversial facts are acknowledged.

Today, you won’t catch her prim suit sashaying along Telegraph Avenue past pitbulls and smoke shops. But there’s no ignoring her ties to the University of California.

Since 1989, about $804,000 has been donated to her campaign by individuals who listed their employer as the University of California. UCLA gave her $300,000 to do one speech in March 2014, which, according to CBS News, was Clinton’s “special university rate.”

Never mind the fact that about 39 percent of UC Berkeley students graduate with debt — an average of $17,548. At least at UC Berkeley we got a chance to host the Clinton Global Initiative University conference, an opportunity to see Hollywood godheads, such as Conan O’Brien, talk about humanity’s suffering from the nosebleed section of Haas Pavilion.

Cheers to the days before Hillary Clinton became desperate to please everyone. The days when she wore clear-framed glasses and high heel black boots and may have ditched town to hit up Joan Baez concerts at Stanford. The days when her resume was a clear 1-pager with Berkeley, California, listed at the top.

Jennifer Cain is the multimedia editor. Contact her at [email protected]

JUNE 08, 2016