It was also a way of getting published myself, since my brother had strong feelings that a mere apprentice like myself (even if I were his brother!) had no place as a writer at his newspaper.
Mrs. Dogood, to my delight, caught on quickly with the readers of the Courant, and her popularity as a commentator on the current events in Boston at the time was second-to-none.
In light of the fact that we have another presidential election coming up in the next few years – and one possible candidate, Hillary Clinton, (although uncommitted and officially unannounced at this point) who could very well be the nation’s first woman president – I thought to myself, who better than Silence Dogood to interview her? So, dear readers, as long as Ben Franklin has time-traveled to this future world of the 21st century, why not bring along my alter ego as well, Silence Dogood? Here is the transcript of her supposed interview with Hillary Clinton:
Silence: Mrs. Clinton, I understand you could be a candidate in the next presidential race.
Hillary: I haven’t really made up my mind yet.
Silence: Do you know when you'll be ready to decide?
Hillary: Hopefully, by the end of this year.
Silence: Well, if you were a candidate, could I ask you what ideas you might have regarding the women of this country…assuming, of course, that you might decide to run?
Hillary: Ideas about the women of this country… is there a particular issue you have in mind?
Silence: Education, perhaps. As I originally wrote in my column in the Courant, back in the 1720s, I’m a strong believer that women should have the same access to education that men do. What do you think about that, Mrs. Clinton?
Hillary: Well, Silence, I think my own record – my own post-graduate education – and my family’s accomplishments speak for themselves. My daughter Chelsea, in fact, just recently received a doctorate from Oxford.
Silence: That is quite an honor!
Hillary: Bill and I thought so. We’re very proud of Chelsea.
Silence: Another one of the women’s issues I advocated in my letters to the Courant was the matter of financial assistance for widows like myself who had fallen on hard times simply as the result of their husbands passing away and leaving them bereft, with no resources to fall back upon. What do you think about that?
Hillary: One big difference, Silence, between the 1700s and our own, is that we now have a number of social welfare and safety net programs that weren’t around before. Social Security, for example, as well as public assistance for women and children (WIC) are two that come to mind. So widows wouldn’t have to fear the same consequences from losing a partner and breadwinner.
Silence: That is a big step forward! However, Mrs. Clinton, I also expanded upon my own suggestion for widows’ assistance, proposing a similar compassionate response to women who had not managed to find a husband by about age 30. I thought they, too, could receive some kind of a stipend, providing they met the requirements I outlined in my letter.
Hillary: It sounds like both of us may be of a similar mind when it comes to compassionate response, Silence. Although, given the changes in society since the 1700s, and the matter of women remaining single is no longer considered such an awful thing, nor is it always financially catastrophic, your plan for subsidizing single women might not be the best use of public money today.
Silence: Mrs. Clinton, what are some other examples of compassion in the public sector?
Hillary: Making health care universally available and affordable for all is one. Back when my husband Bill was president, I helped lay the foundation for a big push on that program by chairing the National Health Care Reform task force. Some of our work, in fact, ultimately led to what the Obama administration is trying to do right now.
Silence: Any other examples that you can think of?
Hillary: As I mentioned in my new book, Hard Choices, there was the time when I was Senator of New York, and had originally voted for sending troops to Iraq, but didn’t realize what a big mistake it was until somewhat later, when it was my job to sign all the letters to people who had lost family members in the war. That was heart wrenching! I was wrong to vote to authorize the war. In hindsight, I think a little more compassion on the part of all of us elected representatives might have led to a different outcome. It’s certainly something that would enter into my thinking, should a similar decision come about in the future.
Silence: Well, thank you, Mrs. Clinton, I see that our program is now drawing to a close. I greatly appreciate your making the time for our little conversation today. I’m sure our audience will find this interview quite fascinating.
Silence: As she mentioned, Mrs. Clinton has a new book, Hard Choices, which has just come out in book shoppes and stores everywhere. I’m Silence Dogood, “widow at large,” and you’ve been listening to “That Chat”…here on your… “radio station”…is that what you call this? Next week we’ll be chatting with Martha Washington. (producer frantically signals to Silence). What? Martha isn’t available? Well, we’ll find somebody else… maybe Mrs. Thomas Jefferson. So, good day, and good news!
(off the air)
Hillary: By the way, Silence, if you don’t mind my asking, how old are you, really?
Silence: Well, my dear, a lady is never supposed to reveal her age…but in your case, I’ll make an exception. Let’s just say it’s a little over 300 years.
Hillary: Amazing! You don’t look a day over 200!
Silence: Thank you. I owe it all to that wonderful water in Boston.