Authors Discuss the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton

Authors Discuss the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton

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Maha Neouchy
April 15, 2014

The political career and personal life of Hillary Clinton has been a hot topic of discussion in American politics since the 1990s. From the Monica Lewinsky scandal to her presidential campaign to her term as United States Secretary of State, many Americans know Hillary Clinton far beyond just a surface level.


On Monday, April 7th, TWC spring 2014 interns and staff members welcomed authors Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes for the second Simpson Mineta Leaders Series (SMLS) of the spring 2014 semester. During the event, the authors discussed their new book, HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton, which closely examines Hillary Clinton's life during her run for Democratic presidential candidate in 2008 and her career as the U.S. Secretary of State under the Obama administration.


Allen and Parnes joined senior executive producer of C-SPAN Steve Scully who moderated the discussion in the Blinken Auditorium at TWC's Residential Academic Facility in NoMa.


Senior Executive Producer and Political Editor Steve Scully Sits Down with the Authors


Scully: Amie Parnes, why Hillary Clinton and why this collaborative project?


Parnes: I've always been fascinated by Hillary. And John was too. So we came together to learn about this time in her life. It was reported on but not really covered and we both wanted to find out how she would be as president and who she would surround herself with.


Scully: John, finish this sentence. Hillary Clinton will run for President in 2016 because…


Allen: I think the answer is that she's been running for President of the United States for the last eight to 10 years uninterrupted. The 2008 campaign ended but she didn't stop. She believed then that she was the best person to be President and I hope she hasn't seen anything in the last few years that has dissuaded her from that.


Scully: Amie, Hillary Clinton will not run for President in 2016 because…


Parnes: I think her health might get in the way or she wouldn't want to put herself through 2008 again. Everyone likes the comeback story but what she went through, I myself couldn’t have gone through it. I would still be in bed. How are you that inevitable candidate and lose to someone who is inexperienced and doesn’t have the gravitas that you have?


Scully: Obama had to select a running mate. It was very clear it wasn’t going to be Hillary Clinton. Why were the dynamics different from being Vice President to being Secretary of State, two of the most important positions in any administration?


Parnes: I think he just knew that he didn’t want her as Vice President. But ultimately, I think he had her in mind for Secretary of State all along. I think he knew she would bring both gravitas and loyalty.


Scully: If Hillary does run in 2016, Benghazi is going to be part of the narrative and she's going to have to answer more questions. And in your book you also talk about her experiences with Monica Lewinsky and Whitewater and how that prepared her for her testimony in front of Congressional committees. Can you thread the needle between the politics and policy, and the tragedy in Benghazi?


Allen: If you want an explanation of what happened on the ground in Benghazi you won't find anything better than this. I also think that we've got a lot of new stuff about what was happening in Washington, D.C. at the time. We broke it into three pieces including:


  1. Diplomats being in dangerous places without a heavy military footprint
  2. What happened in Benghazi
  3. Hearings and aftermath of the tragedy

Student Questions


Maisie Baldwin, a student at Drury University and intern at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, asked how the media would play a role in Hillary's presidential campaign: "Take 2008 for example, when we saw Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin skits on SNL. Do you remember how they were characterized through the media? What role do you think this plays in helping and hindering Hillary as well as other women in general?"


Parnes: As a woman, I have always thought there was a double standard in politics, from the way people spoke about Sarah Palins' suits to Hillary Clinton's hair. I did a few interviews separate from John where people said, you're the women on this project, what do you think about her hair and the fact that she wears scrunchies? I was personally offended for her.


John Puricelli, a student at University of Dayton and intern at IONA Senior Services, inquired about the future of Hillary Clinton's political career and asked both Allen and Parnes to outline the strengths and weaknesses of a presidential campaign in 2016.


Allen: I think one of the main weaknesses she had in 2008 was a lack of vision for the country. She didn’t articulate where she was going to take the country and I think this was one of the fundamental flaws of her campaign.


Parnes: Strengths. She's going to be the most prepared candidate we've seen in quite some time. She already has a landscape that's there for her, research group, super PACs. The fact that we keep talking about her being inevitable in 2016 is a huge strength for her. I also think that Bill Clinton will be a strength for her. He wasn’t in 2008 but if he is the guy that he was for Obama in 2012, she will win the White House.


Emily Grassett, a student at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and intern at the U.S. Department of Justice, asked the authors about how the Monica Lewinsky scandal would play into Hillary's campaign in 2016?


Allen: I think all the talk of Monica Lewinsky has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton herself. It has to do more with the desire of Rand Paul and others in the Republican party to demonstrate that they are willing to play hardball.


Dylan Moore, a student at the University of Dayton in Ohio and intern at Meridian International Center, asked about whether or not it was more strategic for Hillary to stay close to Bill Clinton? Or did the American people hear enough from him when he helped campaign for Obama in 2012?


Parnes: I think if she uses him the way President Obama used him, by speaking in larger crowds and not doing so much one-on-one in the press, it will provide some serious benefits. He is still very popular in the middle class and I think that will take her to the White House.

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