You teour bookgoup, you te youre, you teeveybody You teour bookgoup, you te youre, you teeveybody...
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You tel l your book group, you tel l
your mother, you tel l everybody…
that I ’m going to keep going.
Because I want them to keep going
It was the jaw drop felt around the world. Almost a year ago, Hillary Clinton lost her bid to be the 45th president of the United States. Today, she has a message for us all
I n t e r v I e w : A n n A F I e l d I n g P h o t o g r A P h Y : j o e P u g l I e s e
h I l l A r Y c l I n t o n
S T Y L I S T . c o . u k 5 5
the fighter: despite
the disappointment of last
year, clinton is determined
to keep up the struggle
5 6 S T Y L I S T . c o . u k
I just had the
crazIest dream where
donald trump was the
us presIdent… oh waIt
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lights up when talking about younger women. She wants us all to do really well.
Hillary has done things very few women – very few people – get to do. Secretary of State for the United States. First female Senator for New York. First Lady of the United States. Co-founder of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. Alumna of Yale Law School.
She’s a person who does not fail often. When a professor at Harvard Law School said, “We don’t need any more women at Harvard,” she kept on going and chose to study at Yale instead. When, in the early Eighties in Arkansas, people would fill the public gallery of the courthouse for the novelty of seeing “the lady lawyer”, Hillary kept on going. In 1998, when Bill Clinton was accused of having an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Hillary kept on going.
But after delivering her concession speech on 9 November last year, Hillary Clinton left the New Yorker Hotel in midtown Manhattan feeling “completely and totally depleted”. “All I wanted to do,” she says in her new book “was get inside, change into comfy clothes, and maybe not ever answer the phone ever again.”
But here we are, a year later, and Hillary Clinton is, somehow, still going. Her new book, What Happened, is her memoir of 2016, but also her attempt to analyse why a qualified candidate lost out to a showman.
“I’m very distressed about what he means to our country and the world,” she tells me. “He started by attacking our closest allies: Great Britain, others in Europe, the Nato Alliance, the United Nations. It is a continuation of his reality TV show persona and I think it has confused and distressed people around the world. I think part of the role of the American presidency is to provide stability, consistent with values of democracy and human rights, both of which he seems to disregard.”
Reality bites Hillary Clinton’s electoral battle with Donald Trump was perhaps the biggest story of last year. On 8 November, the world waited by their TV screens to watch the result. It was a choice between the United States of America having their first female president, or voting in a man who boasted about sexual harassment, dismissed climate change and tacitly encouraged violence against minority groups, journalists and political rivals. West Virginia, South Carolina and Alabama went to Trump; Connecticut, Delaware and Washington DC to Clinton.
Trump’s supporters had a different view. His rival was part of the decadent liberal elite, the walking embodiment of a political establishment who hadn’t delivered the change promised by Barack Obama’s presidency. What could ‘Crooked Hillary’, to use Trump’s nickname, do for the no-longer-working man, they asked.
Ohio, Florida, North Carolina. All Trump. What was going on? There were hopes and prayers that Clinton would rally.
Wisconsin for Trump. Finally, at 2.35am EST (7.35am in the UK),
Hillary Clinton conceded defeat. Donald Trump would be the 45th president of America. The world looked on in shock.
“I have a great sense of responsibility,
recognising famous people: if orange skin and a strange white-yellow pompadour equal Donald Trump, then brightly coloured tailoring and smartly layered blonde hair are all we need to conjure up Hillary. But, obviously, she’s more than just symbols. Hillary Clinton is now 69, one year older than my own mother. Chelsea Clinton and I are about the same age. For most of our conversation, Hillary moves between on-message answers, political opinion and justifiable pissed- offness. But occasionally there are flashes of something else. Something incredibly supportive.
“No, no! You’re doing great!” she encourages, when I check to see how much time we have left.
You can see why her assistant says he feels so happy to work with her. You can feel how it might be to be one of her mentees. Perhaps, just a sliver, of how it might be to be Chelsea. She
the railway line is called Pleasantville. It’s calm and quaint and wealthy without being flashy. You feel that nothing bad could happen to you here. It would be the perfect place to recover from a crushing blow. Which is just what one of the town’s most famous residents has been doing for the past year. She is Hillary Clinton and Chappaqua’s other most famous resident is her husband, Bill.
The Clintons have owned a home here since 1999. Last year, in the run-up to the election, they also bought the house next door, thinking it would be useful for the extra people required to surround an incoming president. Instead, Hillary has spent much of 2017 redecorating the new house, hanging a vintage Suffragette banner above the fireplace and writing her book in the dining room, confessing that sometimes she just wanted to “scream into a pillow”. Still, Chappaqua is friendly, a good place to be. People smile at me, a stranger. I’m here to meet Hillary.
Here’s the thing about Hillary Clinton. She’s often slated for being an ambitious woman. There’s an idea that her extreme competence and drive make her somewhat robotic. Firstly, this isn’t true in person: she smiles with her eyes, looks at people properly and gets genuinely agitated where any sane person would. But secondly, Hillary represents something for a certain type of woman. You know who I mean. It’s us. The achievers, the triers, the exam passers. We’re on your commute with a hardback book and a change of shoes. We’re your boss and your intern. We’re the birthday card buyers and the appraisal writers and we’re forever stuck on an impossible see-saw, trying to find the mid-point between pleasing people and being a bitch who gets sh*t done. If you see anything of yourself in Hillary Clinton’s efforts and resilience, know that Hillary Clinton recognises you too.
“I come across it all the time,” she says. “It really makes me happy, because I don’t want young women to be discouraged by the resurgence of nastiness. If you put your head up on Twitter or YouTube and say something, you’re going to engender this nasty response. I want to give confidence and be, maybe, an example of resilience in the face of loss. Because we all have losses and disappointments.”
And we keep on going.
Meet and greet We’re sitting in a cellar room in Crabtree’s Kittle House, a country hotel in Chappaqua. It’s a favourite haunt of the Clintons. Hillary threw a baby shower for her daughter Chelsea here and it’s home to the annual Christmas party she and Bill throw for their security personnel.
Usually this room is used for dining and wine tasting but today two secret service wait unobtrusively outside the door. Before she enters, I hear her approach, heels clicking on the flagstones of the corridor, chatting to her
happaqua is a small town, an hour outside Manhattan by train from Grand Central Station. The houses are mostly smartly painted clapboard, blues and creams and greys, set in
clearings among the trees. The next town along
assistant. Then, suddenly, she is there. The woman who was very nearly the world’s most powerful. “Oh, this won’t do,” she says looking at the faraway chair earmarked for her. She pulls out the one next to me. “Hi, how are you? I’m Hillary.”
Pioneering spirit Hillary. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Dressed in the same style she was for much of her presidential campaign: black trousers and a structured, collared top in blue silk. Unusually for a famous person, she looks exactly like… Hillary Clinton. Before speaking to me she was doing an on-camera interview for CNN, so her make-up is immaculate and her otherwise sensible haircut has been teased and shined for extra glamour. In a room full of wealthy or famous people, you can always spot the journalist: we’re the only ones who have done our own hair.
We have all developed a visual shorthand for
“Losing to someone
who i don’t think
is quaLified or
ready to be president
was a very deep
h i L L a r y c L i n t o n
no love lost: hIllary and
donald trump at the fIrst
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skilful, deliberate lying by the Brexit campaign, which was not adequately addressed and refuted with an alternative, provided a big opening.”
A wave of fear and prejudice rushed through that opening. The Brexit campaign, says Hillary, was similar to the Trump campaign. There was “blaming, scapegoating, prejudice, paranoia and out