New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor graced Sunday's front page with a "will she or won't she run for president" profile of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "Clinton’s Countless Choices Hinge on One: 2016." Kantor talks of Clinton as "a widely respected figure" of "historic potential" without mentioning the scandal of the Clinton White House, like Travelgate.
Kantor is author of a sympathetic biography of the Obamas, but she has also spent plenty of hagiography on Hillary over the years. During the 2008 campaign she opined in a news story that "Mrs. Clinton seemed to channel the lives of regular women, who often saw her as an avenging angel." This Sunday Kantor speculated on the political future of Hillary, who "may appear to be a figure of nearly limitless possibility."
You’re one of the most famous women on earth, and you’re jobless for the first time in decades. You’d like to make money, but you don’t want to rule out running for president. So what do you do all day?
Right now, aides and friends say, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s plan looks like this: exit the State Department shortly after Inauguration Day and then seclude herself to rest and reflect on what she wants to do for the next few years. Those who have invited her for 2013 engagements have been told not to even ask again until April or May.
She and her husband would like to buy a house in the Hamptons or upstate New York, several friends said, and Mrs. Clinton will finally have more time for everyday activities like exercise (last summer, between world crises, she was squeezing in 6 a.m. sessions at a pool with a trainer).
She is likely to use her husband’s foundation as at least a temporary perch, several former aides said, and she has been considering a new book -- not a painful examination of her failed 2008 presidential bid, as she once proposed, but a more upbeat look at her time as secretary of state.
For the moment, Mrs. Clinton may appear to be a figure of nearly limitless possibility, and her name has come up for prestigious jobs: president of Yale University, head of George Soros’s foundation. But being Hillary Clinton is never a simple matter, and her next few years are less a blank check than an equation with multiple variables. Her status is singular but complicated: half an ex-presidential partnership, a woman at the peak of her influence who will soon find herself without portfolio, and an instant presidential front-runner (a title that did not work out well last time).
Kantor downplayed the abortion issue ("reproductive health"?) while playing up Clinton "improving the status of women and children around the world."
Should she do what she wants or what makes the most political sense?
Of all the issues Mrs. Clinton has worked on over the years, the one nearest her heart is improving the status of women and children around the world. As the first lady of Arkansas, she brought Dr. Muhammad Yunus, later a Nobel Peace Prize winner, to set up a microlending program there. She turned her tenure as secretary of state into a sustained argument that women’s welfare is central to security and economic stability, championing projects like milk cooperatives in Malawi and support networks for self-employed women in India. Now her desire is to be “a professional advocate,” as her daughter put it to a reporter.
Ann Lewis, a longtime adviser, echoed that. “In the last four years, she has seen firsthand the difference she can make for women and girls,” she said.
But even if Mrs. Clinton returns full time to her activist feminist roots, it is not yet clear exactly where she would begin: the topic is diffuse by its very nature. Nor is a campaign for, say, safer cookstoves in China the obvious way to win over voters in Iowa -- and her work could touch on issues, including reproductive health, that could prove sensitive.
And while basking in Hillary's "accomplishments and "historic potential," Kantor failed to mention all those nasty scandals of the Clinton White House that had Hillary Clinton's fingerprints on them, like Whitewater and Travelgate.
The speculation is not without its advantages. If Mrs. Clinton is not running, she is a widely respected figure whose chief accomplishments are mostly behind her; if she may be running, she glows with White House and historic potential. “Nobody interacts with Hillary Clinton like she’s fading off into the sunset,” [spokesman Philippe] Reines said.