Magazine | June 12, 2017, Issue

Catching Up with Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton delivers the Commencement Address at Wellesley College. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

We caught up with Hillary Clinton in the light-filled, breezy sunroom of the Chappaqua house she shares with former president Bill Clinton. The room was filled with bric-a-brac and photographs — memories and mementos of a life spent in the public eye. But strewn along the rustic floor coverings and tribal-influenced textiles were artifacts of her other, maybe more important life: that of a grandmother. Toys and art materials and gender-neutral human-representation figurines were here and there on the floor, reminding guests that although she didn’t manage to win over the Electoral College, she clearly has won over her two most important constituents: her grandchildren.

We shared a glass of homemade lemonade — from a recipe handed to her parents from Sir Edmund Hillary, her namesake and the inspiration –

We shared a glass of homemade lemonade.

Q: Mom, are you okay?

A: I’m fine. Really.

Q: You’ve just been sitting here in the sunroom for a while now and you’re staring out of the window and your lips are moving and –

A: I’m fine. I’m just, I’m just thinking, okay? Do we have any lemonade?

Q: Um, I can see if we have some Snapple somewhere.

A: Okay, yeah. Snapple is fine.

Hillary looked relaxed and chic in a simple spring sun dress. She apologized for her hair — gone was the tightly orchestrated coif of the campaign trail. In its place, a simple pulled-back out-of-my-way look that made it clear to her guests that she was spending most of her time outside, in the garden, planting herbs and summer blossoms, watering the –

Hillary looked relaxed and chic in a simple blah blah blah made it clear to guests etc. and then outside in the garden, planting drought-tolerant succulents and other sustainable landscaping.

“We all have to do our part,” she said with a sigh. “We’re not going to be getting any leadership from Washington on this, that’s for sure.”

She looked away, and for a moment a brief shadow crossed her clear and optimistic expression. In an instant it was gone.

Q: We had some Snapple.

A: Great.

Q: You’re sure you’re okay?

A: I’m fine, Chelsea. Really.

Q: Okay. I’ll be in the next room. Call me if you –

A: I’m fine. Honestly.

Hillary took a sip of her homemade lemonade, made from a recipe given to her parents from Sir Edmund –

Hillary took a sip of her homemade lemonade. She looked at her guest expectantly as if to say, Okay, let’s get this started. Hillary Clinton has been at this too long to be caught off guard. She’s a professional woman and she knows it.

What’s next for Hillary Clinton? She laughed. Who knows? she said. There’s so much work to be done, both here and in the wider world. So many issues to tackle — women’s equality and workplace equity and gender equity equality in the workspace of sustainable –

What’s next for Hillary Clinton? She laughed. Politics? She shook her head emphatically. Oh no, she said. Politics is for the next generation. Politics is for someone else. Hillary Clinton, she said, has gotten the message. Hillary Clinton won’t be running for anything in the –

Q: Mom, you’re making these weird noises. Like laughing and then muttering to yourself.

A: I am not muttering to myself, Chelsea.

Q: Yes, Mom, you are. It’s like you’re talking to someone. But, like, you’re alone here. Maybe you should lie down.

A: Chelsea, I’m fine. Please. Just let me sit here and think and look out at the, what are those?

Q: I don’t know, some plants or something? Whatever the gardener put in there.

A: Yeah. Whatever. I’m just relaxing here. I’m just sitting here and relaxing and giving this interview and –

Q: Oh no. It’s happening again. Mom, you are not giving an interview. There’s no one here. No one is interviewing you, okay? Okay? Tell me you know that.

A: I know that.

Q: Really?

A: Yes. Yes. I know that. Okay? I’m just, I’m just a little tired. That’s all. I may shut my eyes for a bit.

Q: Good. Do that. I’ll be in the next room.

Has she thought about it? Of course. She leans back against the sofa and smiles confidently. Are there still things we need to do in this country? Yes, of course. Do I think I could still play a part? You bet. But it’s just not realistic to think that I could run for national office again. That ship has sailed.

She looks out again and rather than sadness, a wave of resolve comes over her.

What about local office? she’s asked. She shrugs. What about running for Congress? After all, lots of early American politicians did exactly that. She nods. Yes, that’s true. And sure, if she ran for one of the open seats in one of her hometowns in Illinois or Arkansas or New York or California –

And sure, if she ran for an open seat somewhere she felt a strong connection with, maybe she’d win. And if the Democrats retake the House in 2018, who knows? Is Nancy Pelosi the very best choice for speaker of the House? Did Nancy Pelosi win the popular vote? These are things to think about, she says. This is a very interesting conversation. She takes another sip of her lemonade, from the recipe given –

Q: Mom, I’m calling the doctor. You’re not well.

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