Janet Yellen, President Obama’s nominee for the Federal Reserve, was the valedictorian of the class of 1963 at Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn. She was also the editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, the Pilot. Tradition mandated that the latter interview the former, so she conducted an interview with herself in the third person:
I entered the den quietly. A small figure sat bent over a desk strewn haphazardly with books and pencils. In a metal wastebasket and on the floor lay crushed balls of carelessly discarded paper. Janet Yellen, this year’s valedictorian, was preparing her graduation speech.
“I’m the editor of The Pilot,” I said, “and I’ve . . .”
“Just a minute,” said Janet abruptly, “I’m thinking.”
I glanced around the room. A bulletin board was plastered with awards and certificates. It’s too disheveled appearance indicated that great pains had been taken to achieve such “perfect sloppiness.” “National Merit Commendation, Regents Scholarship, Mayor’s Citation…”
Janet looked up. “I understand,” I began, “that you are a versatile, attractive, talented senior.”
“Come now,” Janet replied, “you’re letting The Pilot go to your head!”
The New York Times unearthed the interview at the Brooklyn Public Library.
Yellen touched on Yellen’s accomplishments (such as being enrolled in the Science Honors Program at Columbia University) and Yellen’s hobbies (she collected 200 rock samples and attended Off Broadway theater). Yellen also brought up her travels to the Caribbean, Europe, and South America, when she asked herself about a carved mask in her room.
To her credit, she does manage to get some self-deprecating humor in: She says she reads philosophy so that she can write unpopular essays, corrects her own spelling of the word “finite,” and implies that perhaps she didn’t enjoy working on the Pilot:
At the risk of sounding trite I asked: “What are your plans for the future?”
“Next year I will attend Pembroke College where I’ve decided to major in math or anthropology or economics or — by the way, how do you enjoy working on The Pilot?”
My journalism textbook said to think quickly and be diplomatic. I thought. “No comment!”
The Times observed that the final line “demonstrated precocious mastery” of a politican’s “standby.”