The British media has been all over the Hillary Clinton beat of late. Last week, for example, the mommy website Mumsnet dared to ask the elderly homeowner about her successful defense of a child rapist in 1975, an issue that U.S. media outlets had been too hesitant to broach in numerous one-on-one interviews with the renowned public speaker.
On Wednesday, Stylist Magazine published what was undoubtedly one of the puffiest Hillary Clinton puff pieces of all time.
— Stylist Magazine (@StylistMagazine) July 16, 2014
Hillary might as well have written the (unbylined) piece herself, as it reads like one of her excessively padded resumes. A few choice excerpts [emphasis added]:
As I crammed years of Hillary’s utterly mind-blowing life into just a week, something else dawned on me. I had never—would never—experience busyness like Hillary.
Hard Choices details the life of someone special: a woman with a huge capacity for understanding, a woman with an exceptional EQ and IQ (as Secretary of State she needed to remember hundreds of people, understand the intricacies of cultural and societal differences, handle delicate international business negotiations and, more pertinently, fight for people’s lives through peace deals). She was responsible for the most difficult of decisions: those that deal with life and death. It was around that moment of clarity when I stopped telling people how busy I was.
“I love the colour of your dress,” she starts, settling in for our chat. “What would you call that? Lemon?”
“Neon lemon?” I proffer back.“It’s certainly not subtle, is it?” she chuckles. I soon learn that laugh is a signature move: warm, relaxed and utterly disarming.
Throughout her years, she has campaigned personally and politically for women’s rights, an issue she still calls “the unfinished business of our time”. And it’s when talking about women that she becomes most animated and exemplifies those attributes she so admires in other women: sensitivity, experience and worldliness.
Throughout my interview with Hillary, she is fiercely engaged; her eyes—sparkly, wide, alert—remain firmly focused on me. She is warm, considered, talks slowly and thoughtfully and uses—consciously or not—tactics that put me at ease. She frequently answers my queries with the response: “Now, that’s a great question”, she litters her answers with colloquialisms that put us on a level and, listening back, I am struck by the amount of times she says, “You know”. And of course there’s that charming laugh. I can see that these natural skills make her the perfect diplomat, the ultimate leader. These are the skills she believes women bring to business. But it would be naive to think that gender differences still don’t present challenges.
For the sake of providing crucial context, here is a video of the “charming,” “warm,” “relaxed,” and “utterly disarming” laugh this author is so fond of:
Hillary writes about the double-standard that applies to women in politics. Amusing anecdotes abound in Hard Choices: Putin’s offer to take her husband out to tag animals in the wild, rather than her; Angela Merkel’s witty gift to her—the front cover of a German newspaper featuring both women, heads cropped off, asking readers to spot the difference between the two; the constant chronicling of her hair and “pantsuits”. She jokes that she even considered calling her book The Scrunchie Chronicles: 112 Countries And It’s Still All About My Hair. It is that wry sense of humour that has seen her through.
What else does she do to unwind? “I enjoy music,” she tells me. “I like three kinds of music: instrumentals of all kinds, women singers and I love to listen to classical music.” And then, almost cutting across herself, she raises her hands skywards exclaiming, “And Adele! I love Adele! I adore Adele!”
I am conscious my time with Hillary is coming to an end, so there is only one question left to ask: the most obvious, perhaps. “You could be the first female president, Hillary. The first mother, the first grandmother…” I start. “How can you not do it?
I make my way out of Claridge’s, so deep in reflection I forget to be surprised when Ozzy Osbourne pops up in reception. Over the past few weeks I have scrutinised her life and attempted to understand her, but all I can say in conclusion is that Hillary was warm, engaging, charismatic, ambitious, smart, determined and busier than any other woman I am probably ever likely to meet.