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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Interview in Harper’s Bazaar *updated w/ CNN article*

February 16, 2011

Very cool. Here is an excerpt:

Photo by Douglas Friedman


The first question for Hillary Rodham Clinton, 67th secretary of state, a woman who has lived in the spotlight–and has been a crucible for public opinion–for more than three decades, is exactly how she does it. At 63, when she could be raking in money from speaking engagements or lying on the beach, she is more invigorated than ever. Theories abound among her close friends and staff: “She has a ‘for country’ gene,” observes her counselor and chief of staff, Cheryl Mills. “A fifth gear,” says longtime adviser Philippe Reines. “I really don’t know,” others say.

A different gene? “Hmm, it could be,” Clinton ponders. She looks trim, her hair longer of late (“You like it this way? Thanks!” she responds girlishly to a compliment), and she’s wearing a tailored gray pantsuit and two strings of South Sea pearls. She seems vibrant, engaged. “Well, I love what I do, and I love the people I do it with. I’ve had the most lucky life because I’ve gotten to do all these amazing things over the last 25 years. I’ve had extraordinary good luck with my health, other than a broken elbow,” she says, referring to her injury in June 2009, which sidelined her early in her new role. “There’s no day that is the same as the day before. So you have to be energized; you have to be focused.”

There must be days, though, when Clinton doesn’t want to get out of bed. “Oh, God, yes,” she says. “The mornings are okay, but by the end of the day, I’m sometimes so tired that I just go home, put my feet up, read magazines, watch TV, try to take my mind out of where I’ve been all day.”


The consensus is that more than two years into her position as secretary of state, Clinton has found her groove. Although she occupies the world’s most prominent and challenging diplomatic post, she seems almost … relieved. “This is a nonpolitical job,” she explains. “I’m not in the fray the way that I was, and that gives you a certain sort of safe haven, even though much of what I do is by nature difficult and in some quarters controversial, because how you deal with China, how you deal with Russia …” Do you smile at Hugo Chávez or not? She nods. “Do you smile at Chávez or not.”

So often vilified during her time as first lady of the United States, Clinton is now often cited as the country’s most admired woman. This is gratifying to her staff, who collectively feel something like vindication that the American public is finally getting what they knew all along. “The caricature of her was that she was frosty, calculating, unfeeling,” says Reines. “But what was so surprising to me was not how wrong it was but how quickly you see that it’s wrong.” “I could never understand it,” says Capricia Penavic Marshall, U.S. chief of protocol. “People had preconceived notions about her. But I think she is now seen for more of the person that she is.” Adds Mills, “You are grateful when people you believe in get positive recognition for who they are.”

Clinton herself must have noticed this sea change. “You know, I don’t think about it because I’ve always been the same person, but I’ve been in different situations,” she says. “And the way I’ve either been judged or criticized has as much to do with what I was doing. Like, for example, as we’ve seen recently with President Obama, when you take on health care, you are going to be heavily criticized. I took it on as first lady,” she says, recalling the 1993 Clinton health-care plan, which died in Congress. “It was a very difficult experience, but it was the right thing to do. It laid the groundwork for what I hope will be a lasting, major accomplishment of this administration. But it had so much less to do with me than the fact that I was willing to take on a hard issue.”


The stresses of Clinton’s position are hard to imagine (“Sometimes I get very upset and angry if I think that people are doing things that are stupid, or put other people at risk, or are breaking agreements”), but she deals with it in her own way. She loves to swim “in pools, in oceans, in lakes.” When she heads home to Chappaqua, in upstate New York, on the weekends, she does yoga with a teacher. She’s also fond of putting her house in order: “Clean out a closet, a kitchen drawer, anything that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, because much of what I do goes on and on and on.”

She and President Clinton clear their heads with long walks. “We go off with the dogs and have a good walk through the woods, then usually a movie, out to dinner,” she says. Thanks to their friends in the entertainment industry, the Clintons have a pile of Oscar screeners at home: “The King’s Speech, that’s on the top of my list. I want to see True Grit, The Kids Are All Right …”

On television, Clinton tries not to miss Grey’s Anatomy. “I am fascinated by the incidents they manufacture. It’s just amazing to me. The guy has a bomb in his belly. Oh, okay. …” Also, thanks to her 91-year-old mother, Dorothy Rodham, she is regularly briefed on Dancing with the Stars. “My mother was pulling for [last season’s winner] Jennifer Grey. I mean, she was so empathetic with the cancer and the screws and the plates and the back, the whole deal.” And what of Bristol Palin? “I’m speaking for my mother here; my mother thought it was very nice that she competed but that she was not up to Jennifer by any means.”

UPDATE: CNN has a really good article on Secretary Clinton’s tenure at State. Here’s a short excerpt but go check out the whole article because it’s quite long:


In some ways, Clinton has sought to redefine American foreign policy by giving diplomacy and development equal weight to defense, a concept she calls “smart power.”

Smart power means focusing on a package of national security challenges that don’t fit easily into classic foreign policy boxes — like women’s empowerment, human trafficking, poverty, disease, internet freedom and climate change. These challenges, Clinton has argued, will do more to shape the 21st century than conflicts between states.

To meet them, Clinton has adopted an ideology she espoused in her book “It Takes a Village,” in which she argues it takes all aspects of society to raise a child. As secretary she argued that civil societies, and women in particular, have an important role to play in solving modern challenges and expanding economic and political opportunity for ordinary people.

On the road, she works herself, and her staff, to the point of exhaustion spreading her gospel. Even after dinners with presidents and ministers, there is always another town hall to speak at or another women’s group to engage.

Some argue that while the goals Clinton espouses, like internet freedom and human rights, are admirable, they have not been translated into policy involving real world relations between the United States and other countries

“Secretary Clinton says one of her absolutely key goals is internet freedom. Great, but what country has been penalized in its relationship with us for preventing internet freedom? If there is no penalty, you are just making nice speeches,” Abrams said.

Clinton has won high marks for securing more resources for the State Department and USAID — both gutted during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — which was also critical to the smart power effort.

She gained significant budget increases for both 2010 and 2011, even as other agencies faced cuts. In December she rolled out the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, modeled after a Pentagon policy evaluation process she learned about during her time on the Armed Services Committee.

The exercise updated both the mandate and the skill set of the Foreign Service and USAID to reflect more of the development priorities she cared about. Future diplomats, she said, will be “people who wear cargo pants as much as striped pants.”

Clinton has also taken an unprecedented interest in the management of the State Department itself, even down to installing showers for employees who bike to work — a suggestion she culled from the “Secretary’s Sounding Board” that she set up on the department’s internal website.

It’s not uncommon for Clinton to pop down to the cafeteria or walk into a suite of offices and stop at people’s desks. She regularly records video messages to the employees wishing them a happy new year or a happy Mother’s Day. It’s all part of an effort to make people feel part of the team.


“Usually at meetings with leaders, they each deliver their points and everyone else listens, ” Mull said. “In some of my meetings with her on Iran, she would say, ‘Steve, why don’t you tell the minister what you were telling me?’ You have to be on your game and be well-informed. No secretary of state has ever turned to me to address the princes or the foreign ministers and offer my views. It’s an intimidating, but an incredibly empowering and enriching experience.”

Clinton also was the first agency head to provide benefits for same-sex partners of employees, using the prerogatives at her disposal. The move put pressure on the White House to extend similar benefits throughout the administration.

“These are her troops,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Philippe Reines, a long-time close adviser. “She wants to take care of them. She wants them to be the best equipped to do their jobs and she knows what they are doing is not easy. She knows how many have died on her watch.”

Losing Holbrooke

None of Clinton’s troops was closer to her than Holbrooke, who was all but certain to be nominated as secretary of state had she won the presidency.

On the night Holbrooke died, Clinton held court with two dozen of his staff, family and friends assembled at the hospital.

While it was “very clear that she was grieving,” said Derek Choellet, former deputy director of policy planning, who has since moved to the White House, Clinton “had clearly decided we were going to push forward. It wasn’t a matter of, ‘We are going to push forward and put this in the past.’ It was, ‘I could add to this by being mournful and bring it down, but I’m going to hold this thing together and bring these people with me,’ and that is what she did that night in a real human way.

“It was just a genuinely human moment which showed what an incredible person she is. She stepped up in such a big way. It wasn’t just about empathy or being a good person. She was being a leader and it showed.”

Campbell said that personal interest is why people are loyal to her.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. HillaryFan permalink
    February 16, 2011 2:54 pm

    Wow, who knew? I like when she does these interviews so everyone can get to see her humor and also just how hard she works.

    Thanks for posting this!

  2. Thain permalink
    February 16, 2011 3:16 pm

    Awesome. I wish she’d do more of these.

  3. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    February 16, 2011 4:36 pm

    Really delightful! Which is why I am so mystified and angry when people seem to cling to the ugly charicatures, stupid stereotypes, and tired, old memes about Hillary as an evil, conniving, self-serving, castrating, rhymes-with-witch, “monster,” “big f***ing whore,” “Miss Fridgidaire,” etc, etc, etc. When the NY Times published rhat decidedly biased “In US signals on Egypt, Obama straddles a rift” story, all the ugliness resurfaced briefly in the blogosphere, as if people had just be waiting for an excuse, any excuse, to drag out the vituperative nonsense we were subjected to in 2008 — and for 15 years before that.

  4. Bea permalink
    February 16, 2011 5:02 pm

    It’s a great interview. My heart ached to see this woman become president. What a missed opportunity…….

    BTW, CNN also has a very nice article on Hillary.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      February 16, 2011 6:09 pm

      Thanks for pointing this out.
      Wow, apart from Elliott Abrams’ snarky quotes, that is the most complimentary (and longest!) piece on Hillary’s tenure as SOS I’ve read so far.

  5. February 16, 2011 6:24 pm

    Here’s the link to the CNN story about Secretary Clinton and I’ll add the link in the post.

  6. Sally permalink
    February 16, 2011 6:31 pm

    She looks absolutely presidential in the picture.

    It will always break my heart to know what might have been.

  7. January 7, 2015 6:41 am

    Yesterday i spent 300 $ for platinium roulette system , i hope that i will earn my first
    cash online


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