Hillary Clinton sent in proof of her sending images to the founders of the Internet's new favorite Tumblr, Texts from Hillary Clinton.
Over the years, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has at various times been painted as a workaholic grind, a militant feminist, and a castigating shrew. During her White House years, Bill was seen as the sax playing, skirt chasing good-time guy, and she was the disappointed spouse. During the 2008 election, Obama was the choice of the young and hip, and she was the favorite among the old and cranky.
But people who actually know the Secretary point out that this sourpuss image was a media creation that has little to do with reality. A reporter on the campaign trail in 2008 told me that she believed Clinton to be “one of the more likeable people in the world” based on what she heard from Clinton’s friends and colleagues. “There’s an irony in her being seen as this ball busting bitch. The truth is, she loves to sit and drink, she loves to eat, she loves to sit and talk with people, she gossips, she’s obsessed with babies.”
Anyone needing proof of her sense of humor about herself need look no further than the Secretary’s contribution to the “Texts from Hillary” Tumblr thread. Since ELLE’s new profile of the Secretary came out, a great deal of media attention has been paid to comments made in the piece by one of her aides, saying that “some of us are looking to ban the scrunchies” the Secretary sometimes wears in her hair. In her “Texts from Hillary” submission posted Tuesday, Clinton writes to creators Stacey Lambe and Adam Smith to say that she’s gotta go because it’s “scrunchie time.” How many of you have bosses cool enough that you could poke fun at their hair-do in the national media and have them not only not get mad, but add to the joke?
Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told me, “The thing that has struck me more than anything else about her is that she is relentlessly enthusiastic, relentlessly upbeat, not as a sort of natural reflection of her mood, but as part of a determined effort to see the best in people and the world . . . that is just, extraordinary, and impressive, and very inspirational.”
An aide told me that, while traveling with Clinton, the aide noticed how much joy she derived from the little things in their day, even while dealing with huge “tectonic” issues. The aide was surprised and impressed to see that she could still be delighted by a meal or a souvenir, figuring that Clinton had been so inundated by extraordinary meals, experiences, and people over the course of her life that simple pleasures wouldn’t make as much of an impression on her.
In my conversation with Clinton, she returned over and over to the idea of gratitude as the thing that keeps her grounded. She told me her workaholic nature was inspired, in part, by her love for America. “I just really think this country is one of the greatest gifts that anyone can receive, and it just is an emotional, visceral commitment that I have had for as long as I can remember. I just always thought that if I could make a contribution, never thinking I would run for political office, but, you know, working to make America better, which is incredibly old-fashioned-sounding, but it’s who I am, and I make no apologies for it. It’s just how I’ve lived my life,” she said. “I think at the core is that deep, bedrock commitment to our country. I love what Warren Buffet says about how—what does he say? Something about how he won the sperm lottery? I mean none of us could predict or foreordain that we would be lucky enough to be born in or raised in this country. And the more I travel, there are so many beautiful places, there are wonderful people, there are rich cultures, [but] to me, at the end of every day, I’m just so grateful that I get to serve this country that I love so much.”
And when we were talking about her losses in the 2008 primary elections, she expressed some regret that she hadn’t won, but no bitterness, focusing instead on how it all led to her experience in the State Department. “I am really lucky,” she said. “And I sometimes feel a little embarrassed. So many things go wrong in people’s lives over which they have no control. You know: the illness that strikes you or your child; the accident that happens. So I am always aware of grace in my life. Always aware of it. I don’t think I’m that much better than a lot of other people who have worked hard and tried to do things in their lives, but I’ve been lucky.”