MY LIFE NOW
The former US presidential candidate, now with a new book, calls putting 2016 and the tyranny of daily pantsuits behind her ‘ liberating’
Former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton puts 2016 and the tyranny of daily pantsuits behind her.
What happened? That’s what much of the United States wondered on Nov. 8, 2016, and it’s the question Hillary Clinton’s memoir of the same name ponders as well. If she has no firm answers, she does reveal how her devastating loss to Donald Trump made her feel. “Millions of people decided they just didn’t like me ... It hurts,” she writes. And the mistakes she made “burn me up inside.” As Clinton tells WHO in an interview, “I’m sorry to say, Trump is exactly who I thought he’d be.” How has she coped? Disregarding the anxiety pills-and-therapy advice of friends (“That wasn’t for me. Never has been,” she writes), Clinton, 69, has kept busy at home in Chappaqua, New York—tackling her household clutter (“It’s never-ending!”) and launching Onward Together, a group to support the Trump “resistance” and train young progressives to be effective activists and candidates. She has tracked the details of Russia’s support for Trump’s election so obsessively, she writes, that at times she’s felt like Carrie Mathison on Homeland, “desperately trying to get her arms around a sinister conspiracy... not a good look for
anyone, let alone a former Secretary of State.” And while she’s done being a candidate, she sees plenty of work ahead—like helping to shatter the glass ceiling to the White House. “I plan to live long enough,” she writes, “to see a woman win.”
What does a typical day look like now?
After so much travel, it’s a rare pleasure to be at home with Bill. We’ve been spending time with Chelsea and Marc, and our perfect grandchildren. I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of good theatre— Come From Away was one of my favourites. I even have time to read for fun. I was riveted by historian Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny and finally finished the Elena Ferrante novels, which I loved. What’s the nicest thing a random stranger said to you after the election? “I’m not giving up.” I love meeting young people—especially young women—who tell me they’re volunteering for a cause they care about, donating to an organisation that’s doing good, or even running for office. It’s encouraging to see that my defeat hasn’t
Who gave you the best advice on moving forward?
Some of the best advice came from one of my favourite books The Return of the Prodigal Son by the Dutch priest Henri Nouwen. Nouwen writes about practising the “discipline of gratitude.” It’s up to us to make the choice to be grateful even when things aren’t going well. Over time, with effort (and more than a few
“What makes me such a lightning rod for fury? I’m really asking”
full nights of sleep), I started to rediscover my gratitude.
You write about yoga being your “therapy.”
I’m still working on the basics! Warrior II is my favourite—it doubles as a great “power pose.”
Do you stay as informed about the news as ever?
I’m terrible at unplugging. It can be nice to just tune it all out for a few hours, but that’s about as long as I can last! I do make a point of reading beyond the barrage of alarming headlines. A friend recently sent me an article about some brave young women playing basketball in Somalia.
What is it like for you to watch the unrest in Charlottesville, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals debate, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma or North Korea unfold on the news?
I’ll be honest: it’s pretty disheartening. I’ve spent a lot of time since the election and especially these last few weeks, thinking about the Dreamers and DACA recipients I’ve gotten to know. I’m heartsick over Charlottesville. And I’m deeply concerned about everyone in the path of the hurricanes, not to mention the fact that some people within the administration would rather turn a blind eye to climate change than confront this crisis. There are times when all I want to do is scream into a pillow. And don’t even get me started on North Korea.
Late-night comics picture you at a bar, ordering another stiff drink. How do you cope with the what-ifs?
You know, as an American, I’m pretty concerned. But as a person, I’m OK. I’ve never been one to sit around and mope. I’d rather stay busy. That’s what helps me most. And yes, Chardonnay helps, too. What have you learnt about yourself? I’ve struggled for years with the sense that I had to restrain myself from saying what I was really thinking and feeling. Being a woman in the public eye is a little like being on a highwire without a net. I’m learning how cathartic it is to finally let my guard down! What does it feel like not to have to be in perfect hair and make-up and a pantsuit every day? Liberating!
Are you open to running for office again?
No. I plan on staying active in other ways. How is your relationship with the Obamas now? I spoke with Barack just two weeks ago and I’m looking forward to seeing him and Michelle when we can work it out with our schedules. What’s the silliest thing you’ve done with your grandchildren lately?
Let’s just say there’s a lot of singing and goofy voices. And Charlotte and I have been doing some gardening. What do you want your legacy to be?
I’m not quite ready to speak about myself in the past tense just yet!
Bill (Aug. 6) “listened to me vent,” Clinton says. He is “good company in happy times and sad.”
Clinton, stopped by a fellow hiker two days after the US presidential election, says exercise and homeimprovement projects are her “therapy.”