At a White House rope line, I once asked Mrs. Clinton if she kept a journal like President Reagan or Lady Bird Johnson’s immensely popular “A White House Diary.” As a Clinton Administration political appointee with a U.S. Senate confirmation I was privy to that kind of candor with her, and spent quite a bit of time at various White House events.
The question, however, brought the rope line to a halt — and Mrs. Clinton who laughed and gave me that straight-in-the-face look. “Are you kidding?” she said. “I don’t write anything down….” adding that as a lawyer she knows better than to put something in writing. Meaning, of course, that anything she wrote down could later be possibly subpoenaed for evidence.
This was back in the late 1990s before those words had become the standard question for her, and which I’m sure she wishes she could return to. But it’s that straight-in-the-face kind of candor that could make her a first-class campaigner now instead of holding onto that ring of privacy that forged around her once she and Bill left the security of the White House.
With the advent of social media, after all, everyone now feels they have rope-line access to every candidate and no longer needs to rely on cleverly crafted soundbites to determine who is and isn’t authentic. They can see it for themselves in every post and tweet and viral video.
So, it would serve Hillary well to return to that wink and a nod of the 90’s and a more natural state. It’s the most powerful platform in which to communicate from and the one that could send her back to the White House. Whether she can do it, though, is the big rope-line question now.