Episode 111: Hillary
Published on September 22, 2017
Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.
Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.
Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow.
Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. Oh, on this week's agenda Amina talks to Hillary Rodham Clinton about how her friends helped her deal post-election, how she's using her platform now, about her new book What Happened, plus if you stick around we'll have a little debrief after the interview.
Aminatou: I talked to Hillary Clinton on Friday right before she spoke at Edith Windsor's funeral. Her book is out now. It's called What Happened. We'll talk more after but for now here's my conversation with HRC.
Aminatou: Thanks so much for being here today.
Hillary: Thank you.
Aminatou: This is not about the book but it's about a book. We read that you were really into the Ferrante books while you were taking some time off.
Aminatou: So we were wondering who is your Lila?
Hillary: Probably my oldest friend. We became best friends in sixth grade. Her name is Betsy. And she and I have been through all of the ups and downs of our lives together and she's smart and loving and supportive and never thrown my doll into a grate. I mean she's really terrific.
Hillary: So probably -- I have great friends. I'm blessed by really good girlfriends. But she's the one that goes the farthest back and is still so much a part of my life.
Aminatou: You write really beautifully about the women in your life in this book, about your daughter, about your mother, and a lot of friends. Is that something that was really front-of-mind for you when you were writing the book?
Hillary: Well it was, Amina, for a couple of reasons. You know, I wanted the book to be both personal and political because I know that for a lot of people this election was traumatic and it needed to be a story about resilience, not just mine but others, as well as what happened with all of the forces that were at work.
My girlfriends were by my side through this whole campaign. They were giving me good advice. They would be meeting up with me on the campaign trail. They'd be just a constant presence. And after I lost they rallied around and they know me as the pushy friend. You know, I write in the book how I'm always giving unsolicited advice about everything and my friends' eyes roll, but they became the pushy friends and they would call and say "I'm coming to see you whether you want to see me or not," or "I'm taking you to the theatre whether you want to go or not. I'm sending you books that I think you should read and you'd better." I mean it was so great.
And one particular day Betsy, my long-time friend, one of her children live near me in New York and so she has grandchildren near me. So it's always a great excuse to see me, but more particularly to see her grandchildren. So she said she was going to be coming up to New York, and I said immediately come stay with us obviously. She said "But I have a new friend I want you to meet."
Ann: "So what can we do with this new friend?" I said "Well, I have room. She can stay too." And the new friend turned out to be Louise Penny who writes one of my favorite mystery series set in Quebec with the protagonist being Inspector Gamache in a small town called Three Pines and I've read every single one of them. And it was such a joy because what we decided to do was get some of my really long-time friends, you know, my dear, dear friend Maggie Williams who was my first chief-of-staff in the White House and then Cheryl Mills who was my chief-of-staff in the State Department and others, and we put together a group and we went up to Val-Kill, Elanor Roosevelt's home, which is one of my favorite places and which I helped to raise money for in the past.
So my friends really provided so much support in the wake of what was a devastating and shocking defeat and still are. And I'm grateful because so many of them have been just incredibly supportive, responsive, and I will see a lot of them on my book tour which I'm looking forward to.
Aminatou: That's exciting. You've talked about really the devastation of the day after the election. I'm not even going to tell you how it impacted some of us, because really reading your thoughts on how that affected you I think was something that was really grounding for a lot of people and like a reminder of how personal it was. Do you -- and thinking about that specifically too, one of the things we talk about on the show a lot is how authenticity can really be a bullshit concept when it comes to women and the double standards.
Hillary: Amen. Amen, sister. [Laughs] Yes.
Aminatou: Yeah, the double standards that are there and how much of yourself you have to give and how it's not enough because people -- that's reflected back to you. Do you feel that the public really sees you at your truest self? And how much of that did you try to correct really in some of the misconceptions that were out there?
Hillary: That's a really smart, important question, and I tried to unpack it in the book more than I ever have in any kind of public venue. I try to be as candid as I can, and some reviewers have said "Oh, her guard is down and she's pulled the curtain back and we get a behind-the-scenes look," all of which is great if it helps people understand two things. One, I have been a pretty consistent person my entire life and I have been an advocate and an activist and then later came to politics and obviously served as a Senator, Secretary of State, and ran for President. Got the nomination for the first time for a woman.
But through it all I've talked about the same things: women, children, families, fairness, justice, our democracy. And I have tried to be as -- you know, as clear as I could. But as I write I was always taken aback because interviewers would say "Why are you REALLY running for president?" I didn't see them asking Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz or Bernie Sanders "Why are you really running for president?" Well, because I believe I'd be a good president, but more than that I believe I understand what needs to happen in the country now to really move America forward, take care of our problems, and all the rest of it.
I always was struck by that. What do you mean really? "Oh, if only she'd be her authentic self." Well my authentic self is what you see is what you get and I was not going to be enticed or berated into being something that I'm not. So it was a constant stress for me personally. But the larger point is I think it comes in part from the double standard in the remaining confusion about women in the public arena. So it is reflective of the double standard. You know, if you are too strong or aggressive people don't like that. If you're soft-spoken and careful people don't like that. If you change your hairstyle people are going to notice and talk about it.
Aminatou: People definitely will talk about that.
Hillary: Endlessly. The list goes on. And beneath the superficial sort of reflections about women in the public arena there's a lot of research that, you know, the more professionally successful a man becomes the more likable he becomes. The more professionally successful a woman becomes, the less likable she becomes. And if you really begin to parse that, try to understand it, you can see there's just still a lot of remaining discomfort with the idea of a woman president or in Silicon Valley a woman engineer or so much else that we see happening in the world. And it's now being brought to the surface and people are naming it. And I'm hoping that my book, and particularly for young women who read it because a lot of young women were reported during the campaign as saying "Well, I just don't think this women stuff is important anymore. I'm not a feminist. I'm myself. I don't think there's inequality."
And actually the older you get and the more you run into life's obstacles and the challenges of balancing family and work and all the rest of it the more you understand what's at stake. And so I hope more young women will read this and reflect and maybe talk about it with their girlfriends.
Aminatou: Yeah. You know, I think that for our audience we get that. We are all feminists. We are -- we understand the implications of Title IX and what that means for the public lives that we've been able to have. I think that one question that we get a lot from younger women for women from your generation is why aren't you angrier? Because this is infuriating. It's infuriating that you get asked "Why are you running?" and some of these bozos don't.
Hillary: [Laughs] Right.
Aminatou: And I think that's something that is really relatable to most women our age even if we're not running for president is just that deep feeling of being over-qualified and watching men fail upwards and get ahead in front of you. And yes, there's statistics, and yes, there is -- like everybody is trying to talk about it but nothing really has changed and if anything we feel that it's getting worse. And I think that that's an intergenerational difference that is there. It's because we are furious and we don't know where to take that energy.
Hillary: Well let me make a few comments on that because I totally get what you're saying. You know, from my perspective I lived through a lot of change. So when I was your age and younger there were schools I couldn't attend, scholarships I couldn't apply for, jobs that were totally off limits. It was so much embedded in the culture that -- I have this David Foster Wallace quote about the two small fish swimming and the other big fish coming forward and the big fish says "Good morning. Beautiful water today." "Well what's water?" I mean if you've always lived in it you didn't know.
So I am the beneficiary of the Civil Rights Movement and the Women's Rights Movement. And I know because I can see the differences in the opportunities available to young women that just in my lifetime we've made what you might call progress. And you mentioned Title IX which was so significant in opening all kinds of doors, not just athletic but academic doors for young women.
So I remain frustrated and I remain dismayed and sometimes even angry about the continuing injustices and unfairness but what happened in this election that really was shocking is that a sexist, misogynistic candidate who insults women, how they look, how much they weigh, how they behave, got elected because people were willing to overlook his admission of sexual assault. They were willing to overlook his name calling in pursuit of their political partisan interests. And that I worry about has given permission for others to once again be overtly sexist and misogynistic as well as racist and prejudiced against ethnic and religious and sexual orientation minorities, right?
So I think you have to be . . . you have to be willing to acknowledge your anger and your determination to do something about it, but anger is not good for you internally. It's bad for your system.
Aminatou: Tell me about it. [Laughs]
Hillary: It upsets your stomach. It may cause other symptoms, you know? So I don't want people to just be angry. I want people to be strategic and to use the motivation that comes from being angry, which often is accompanied by being honest about what you're seeing and what you're feeling, I want it to be shared, I want it to be lifted up, and I want us to be more supportive of those who express it. You know, in the reviews of this book a number of reviewers have said "Oh, she's angry." Well, yeah I am. I am angry.
Aminatou: Right, and I'm like you're not angry enough. [Laughs] I guess you can't win.
Hillary: I am angry but I also know that if I'm only angry I can't sound the alarms I'm trying to sound in the book about sexism and misogyny, about voter suppression of African-Americans and young people in particular, about the Russians who not only impacted our election but are still working against us. So I have a list of things that make me really angry that I'm trying to be strategic in addressing because I know that if we can get more people initially to be upset and angry, but then to say "Hey, I'm going to join a group. I'm going to contribute to this cause." That's why I started this group called Onward Together because I don't want us just to be angry, I want us to win. And at the end of the day we have the courts which we have to keep bringing cases in against injustice and we have politics and we have a 2018 election where if we can pull people together and make sure that they're not angry and discouraged but motivated and determined we can actually flip the Congress and that would be the best way to hold Trump and the people around him accountable.
Aminatou: So I take it that you are part of the resistance? [Laughs]
Hillary: I am, proudly.
Aminatou: And in the book you lay out some pretty specific strategies for that. How are you resisting?
Hillary: In a number of ways. I consider the fact that I didn't go away, that I didn't get frightened off by my critics on both the right and the left as part of my personal resistance. Because look, I think I've got a lot of experience. I've got some insight that I'm going to keep sharing and talking about. If you don't want to hear it, don't listen. But if you might be encouraged to say "Hey, what am I going to do?" Great. Figure it out and I'll help you if I can.
Then this group that I started is an organized way to collect people and provide funding to a lot of the grassroots groups that have started up. So we have funded and lifted up and publicized a number of groups that are recruiting candidates and training them and supporting them to run, that are teaching people how to go to town halls, that are giving people information about advertisers who advertise on sites like Breitbart.
And we're trying to raise visibility, raise awareness, and be very specific in the actions that we take. And on this book tour I'm going to keep speaking out and I'm going to keep raising what happened in this election not just because I was obviously the candidate but what happened could happen again.
I think we are facing a clear and present danger from this administration, and left unchecked, left unaccountable, they will be emboldened to be even more willing to turn the clock back on civil rights, human rights, women's rights, and all the rest, and to tilt the economy even more towards the wealthiest of the wealthy. So there's a lot at stake for everybody in this and it's a false dichotomy to say "Oh, it's either the economy or it's civil rights and human rights." No, it's both, and it needs to be both, and we can't let people forget that.
Aminatou: Can you tell Bernie Sanders that?
Hillary: I have tried in every public forum that I've been in, and in the book I pretty much make that clear that, you know, if you're not talking about race and gender and homophobia and Islamophobia and all the anti-immigrant bashing you're missing the reason the guy won. You're missing what really happened in the election and what motivated unfortunately too many of his voters. So, yeah, do we have to do a better job getting rising incomes? I had great plans for doing that. Nobody heard them because all they wanted to talk about was my emails which was the dumbest scandal of the universe. Dumb mistake, but an even dumber scandal. So yeah, I'm going to keep talking and raising these issues and trying to push towards a recognition that we have to stand up to Trump on all grounds, not just a few.
Aminatou: One of the big conversations that's happening right now too is around identity politics, right? And so many people on the left and in the center are really becoming really adamant that that's something we should step away from, which nobody can see me roll my eyes. This is driving me crazy. What would you say to black women specifically who showed up en masse to vote for you and doubling down really on those constituencies that are deemed identity politics? Because nobody considers the white working class identity politics.
Hillary: Which of course it is.
Aminatou: Or white men identity politics. Yes.
Hillary: It is, of course. I mean if we're going to talk identity politics don't leave people out who are defining their political beliefs and actions in relation to their identity. That's who we are! We're human beings, you know? We have identities and they are based in everything from race to, you know, family affiliation and all that you can imagine. So yeah, recognize it. We are e pluribus unum, you know? We are one out of many in our diversity and we have struggled since the beginning of our country to open the doors of opportunity and bring people into American citizenship. So yes, I mean this is a phony debate and I am going to keep calling it out as a phony debate.
I ran for the Senate twice. I was elected twice. I talked about all these issues. I talked about it in every different kind of community, and New York has all communities one can imagine. I talked about the same issues, about justice and fairness and economic opportunity and equality and all the rest, and I'm going to keep talking about it. And I think it's a mistake which is, as you say, one that I think too many are now making, that somehow you can jettison what you believed or what you yourself feel and go with some anodyne economic prescription and that's going to break through all of the noise that people are experiencing. No. stand up for who we are as Americans, and who we are as Americans are not just economic beings, and I'm going to keep saying that.
Aminatou: Yeah. I mean I really want to, I guess, keep talking about this because I think that in the media specifically there's been so much anxiety and coverage around issues that really affect white men and nobody is doubling down on, like I said earlier, black women or other constituencies that really turned out en masse for you despite a lot of sometimes reservations or just not being as enthusiastic about the choices that they were faced with. What do you think that -- how do we change that? Because I think that it's really distressing. It's something obviously that affects me personally, but I think that if we are moving in this political direction where we're saying that some minorities don't matter there's no incentive for them to feel that progressive politics apply to them at all or that they can trust politicians and the Democratic Party in general.
Hillary: I think you've really nailed it. You know, I was proud to get 94% of black women's votes and I write a whole chapter about these extraordinary women who inspired me, the mothers of the movement who lost children to violence by the police or by gangs and other killers. I spent a lot of time with them. Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother, came to my book signing on Tuesday here in New York. I mean she became just an incredibly supportive, inspirational friend. I mean her courage and her commitment was inspiring to me.
And I'm going to keep talking about the challenges all people face. I'm not dismissing challenges that any group of Americans face. We need to break the hold of the wealthiest, most powerful right-wing forces in our country who want to set us against one another. That is the goal of people like the Mercer family and the Koch brothers. They want a government that does their bidding. And I've seen this. I have spoken against it. I have fought against it. I have voted against it for a long time.
So we now unfortunately have a president who is their vehicle for this including the very scary idea of calling a constitutional convention to disenfranchise people further and to promote business and certain religious beliefs. So there's a lot at stake here and I for one am not going to stand for anybody, right or left, saying "Well, some Americans are more important than others." And I hold the press really accountable here because they eliminate the stories of so many people and it's wrong. And so, yeah, I don't want to eliminate anybody's stories at all so let's tell everybody's story and make sure that we don't leave anybody behind. And that's what I'm partly trying to do with this book and what I'm going to keep speaking out about.
Aminatou: I want to talk about feminism because I was not surprised but really delighted that you were really forceful about a lot of feminist issues in the book. I think you ran a really overtly feminist campaign. That surprised me. It's very 1970s revolution.
Aminatou: It's like why is nobody else seeing this? This is insane. Second wave ladies running for office. But, you know, a lot of people don't call themselves feminist and hold deep feminist beliefs. What do you think about overtly feminist messaging, and do you think that was something that played a role in either hurting your chances or turning off some voters? And if there's really ever going to be a time that we're able to do that.
Hillary: Amina, I'm not sure exactly how to analyze it so I'll just give you my impressions which again I write quite a bit about in the book. I wrote a whole chapter called Being a Woman in Politics and it talks about endemic sexism and misogyny. And there really are -- there's a significant minority of Americans, bigger in the Republican Party, particularly compared to the Democratic Party, but even the Democratic Party you have like 20% of men who are kind of cautious about thinking about a woman as president. Now that's compared to 69% of Republican men as I recall the statistics.
So envisioning a woman president, commander-in-chief, really was hard for a lot of people. And they could blame all kinds of things for their desire not to support me, and, you know, there's a long list of them. Look, I don't have the right to anybody's vote. But for a lot of the discussion around my candidacy much of it was fueled by questioning and anxieties about my being a woman.
And that's become even clearer to me because since the election we've had some Democratic women really stepping up and out and they've been shut down. I mean Elizabeth Warren, shut down in the United States Senate where I served for eight years for reading a letter from Coretta Scott King about Jeff Sessions? Kamala Harris shut down for questioning Jeff Sessions? And I've seen attacks coming at particularly Kamala from the left and people saying "Well, you know . . ." They make up this stuff like she's not really progressive. What are they talking about?
You know, it's silly and it's wrong. And so part of my hope is that I've pushed this issue into the public debate and I hope people will begin to have that conversation and say to themselves "Is it going to be impossible for any woman, no matter how qualified, to overcome these barriers of sexism and misogyny?" Well shame on us if it is. So I think I've sparked some debate. I'm going to keep sparking it. [Laughs]
Aminatou: [Laughs] When Huma was on the story we talked to her about the only email that really mattered in the email dump which was that you were watching The Good Wife.
Aminatou: That was the only . . . I was like I'm really glad that this news is out in the world. Did you ever watch the ending of The Good Wife and how did you feel about it?
Hillary: I did watch the ending. I mean I caught up with The Good Wife after the election. I mean that was one of my diversions. I caught up on all the shows that I had not seen for a year-and-a-half or two. It wasn't satisfying to me really. It was not . . . I wasn't that happy. It wasn't a resolution of any sort for me. And since, you know, we'd followed the arc of her life as wife of public official, lawyer, candidate for office, I mean we followed this whole story. I don't know. Maybe it's because I wanted more. I didn't want it to end. Maybe that's it. Yeah.
Aminatou: That's fair. That's the correct answer. And do you have any big life regrets? It doesn't have to do with the election. I think that people look at you as just this icon of everything and I'm really . . . and I think some people are also baffled by choices that you've made. Is there anything that you wish you could've done differently?
Hillary: Not on anything big. Nothing on the big stuff, and I write about my husband, my marriage, my daughter, my mother, the things that are the closest to me and most important to me. I do wish I'd been more athletic.
Hillary: I mean really, I was a very athletic -- but poor one -- when I was a little girl. I played softball into high school. So I liked sports. I played tennis. I even played soccer which was kind of unheard of back in the day. And then I kind of petered out really. And I think I regret that. My daughter is a fanatic exerciser. I'll be at her apartment as I was yesterday with my grandchildren and she'll say "Okay, mom, I'm going for a run," and she disappears. And I really -- I admire that because I don't have it in me to do that. [Laughs]
Aminatou: It's not too late. It's not too late. That's what they say at least.
Hillary: Yeah, well maybe -- once the book tour's over that may be my next challenge for myself.
Aminatou: That's amazing. Thank you so much for making the time to talk to us today.
Hillary: Thank you, Amina. I enjoyed it.
[Music and ads]
Aminatou: Okay, before Ann and I check in about this momentous conversation we have some announcements for our Midwest divas. Tickets are basically sold out for our Chicago live show. If you keep an eye out one or two might pop up but I think that's it.
Ann: If you're my blood relative you can maybe still come.
Aminatou: Yes, if you're Ann's blood relative email us. We've got you. Otherwise come see us Saturday, October 21st, at the Women's Club of Minneapolis. Perfect name. Yeah, Midwest divas love a road trip. I can't believe how many people are tweeting at us and Instagramming us that they're driving in for this.
Ann: Yes. Amazing. Okay, now can we talk about this interview please and how proud I am of you and how great your questions were and also how my heart is broken into a million pieces that I was not there IRL?
Aminatou: I am so sad that you were not there IRL. Hillary is probably sad that you were not there IRL. She smells like . . .
Ann: Oh, Hillary is doing Hillary. She's fine.
Aminatou: Let me tell you she smells like democracy and women we love and power and cocoa butter. She's the best.
Ann: I don't believe you that Hillary smells like cocoa butter.
Aminatou: No, I just said that because it, you know -- people I love I want to believe all smell like cocoa butter.
Ann: [Laughs] I'm more of a Shea woman over here.
Aminatou: Oh my gosh.
Ann: I'm on a roller coaster of emotions. Really testing the long, long, long distance besties limits of this podcast.
Aminatou: Okay, let's rewind. Where in the world is Carmen Anndiego?
Ann: Carmen Anndiego is in Melbourne right now but when you recorded this interview with Hillary I was in the middle of the Daintree Rainforest in Queensland which is probably as far off the grid and as far away from New York City as is possible to go. I was there for only two days and it turns out that one of those two days is the day when Hillary was available to talk. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Well, you know, she was great. [Laughs]
Ann: It is really inspired -- like it has really pushed me to my limits of being part of the team that is CYG and being very, very happy for this team and suppressing my personal sadness at not being able to be physically present. It's been a very good exercise in "Ooh, shine theory. How far can it go?" [Laughs]
Aminatou: Well, one, we missed you. Hills was great. She should have her own podcast. I mean she does have her own podcast with Max Linsky but they should keep doing it. I'm going to be very real, like sitting in a room with her with a microphone was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun and it was also like is this my real life today?
Ann: I mean also she . . . there are certain things like that laugh, and I think her wit and a few things about the -- I don't know, maybe her real personality is getting to shine a little bit right now now that she is not on the campaign trail and it's a delight to hear.
Aminatou: I disagree with that slightly. I think that she is -- like her personality is always the same. I just think that the whatever it is that we're projecting on to her/how awful campaigning is and how it turns all of us into monsters, and by us I mean people that are observing them, is probably the thing that's not there. Because what's been really interesting is obviously that book tour, right? So she's done all these interviews and some of them are book tour talk and some of them are actually like really revealing. So the night before she talked to me she was with Maddow and I watched it the first day and I was just like so . . . obviously I feel this every morning for the first 15 minutes that I wake up, like oh my god, is this crazy man really president and is this what has happened? But watching that Maddow interview just made me so regretful of what could've been. This person could've been our president. Like you're funny, you're graceful, but also you know what the fuck you're doing.
Ann: Ugh, that is definitely a dominant feeling, the like what could've been sadness for sure.
Aminatou: It's crazy. But okay, let me give you a vibe for the room. It was really funny. First of all Gina looked amazing. She was wearing this pink vintage dress that had hand-painted flowers on it. It was so good. And she wore her Pennsylvanians for Hillary button which Hills obviously saw and laughed at. It was great. Huma was in the room and she looked amazing also. She talked about her CYG interviews and I told her how I still have Quest Bars for her so that was funny. Maybe Gina will play the audio for this but Hills asked us if we were getting paid. [Laughs] It made me really happy that was the first thing that she asked us. And I was like yes, thank you, a woman after my own heart.
Hillary: Before we go on the air have you guys raised capital to expand?
Aminatou: We talk about it a lot but we like being an independent team.
Aminatou: We don't need the money because the advertising can sustain that.
Hillary: Good. Okay.
Aminatou: Also there's not a lot of women in our space doing their own thing.
Hillary: There aren't. And I keep saying these -- you know, these young men doing podcasts and moving on to YouTube channels, and they're just getting showered with money.
Ann: Right. The banter before the interview involved Hillary Rodham Clinton being like "Are you getting good investment? Men are getting investment. Is your podcast fully capitalized?" [Laughs]
Aminatou: But the book is really juicy. The audiobook is great too actually. It hits the high and the low of everything I like. BeyoncÈ gets thanked. She roasts men who have made fun of her before. She totally explains how she feels about the campaign. It's like the perfect balance between deeply personal but also campaign debrief which I really enjoyed. And also she's a good writer so it's like it worked out.
Ann: What are some of the juicy parts of the book you did not get to ask about or did not make good questions that you -- because I haven't read it yet. My copy arrived after I got on an airplane so I want to know. I want to know the juicy bits.
Aminatou: You're going to be so happy to get back to it. Well one of the points that she made which I thought was really interesting was about how people who talk badly about her in the press or wherever don't have the guts to say those things to her face which I thought was very relatable but also on a power lady mode was like whoa, this is real. Everybody has haters. And so she shares the story of why she went to inauguration. She was like "Obviously I didn't want to go but George Bush was going and Carter was going. If they can go, I can go." And also this need to be gracious loser or whatever. But at inauguration she talked . . .
Ann: Or whatever. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Yeah, you know how it is. You know how it is.
Ann: I know how it is.
Aminatou: If I lost an election, Ann, I would be my worst self. Like I would not be gracious. I would flip tables. I would not be cool. I'd be like "I'm only doing this once. I didn't get it. Fuck you guys."
Ann: Right. I'm going to be screaming into pillows for six months.
Aminatou: Exactly. But that's not how Hillary Clinton does it. So she shares the story about how some man comes up to her and asks to take a picture for his wife and blah, blah, blah, and that guy turned out to be Ryan Zinke who is the interior secretary who called her the anti-Christ and she said it back to him. She was like "Well, you know, I'm not the anti-Christ." She makes fun of . . . who's that curly-haired Mormon? The terrible one. He's leaving to go work for Fox News. Chaffetz. That one. Benghazi.
Ann: Yeah, you should've said he looks like a woodchuck. I would've known who you were talking about.
Aminatou: Exactly, Mr. Benghazi. So he also takes a selfie with her, so she calls him out on how he captioned it on the Gram which is really funny. She talked a lot about her relationship with the press which obviously is very complicated and was very consequential for how the rest of the campaign went. You know, and the focus on like her email but also, you know, the tenuous guarded/not guarded relationship they've had. I wish we could've gotten to talk about that but I think she's addressed that multiple times in the press. Another thing I wanted to talk to her more about, like we touched about it a little bit, but I could've talked to her about it for 20 hours, is the emotional labor that women do but really the emotional labor that she does.
Ann: So much emotional labor, yeah.
Aminatou: You're going to be president but also you're a wonderful person who worries if the people need you have eaten lunch. She shares a story in the book that's crazy about how right after she lost, like obviously she was devastated, but she's like "I soldier on. I power through. That's me." And then she shares how when Bill Clinton lost one of his first elections he was slumped over on the bathroom floor crying and so she had to give his concession speech. [Laughs] And my head exploded. Women do too much.
Ann: Does she use the term emotional labor?
Aminatou: Yes, she uses the term emotional labor multiple times in the book which was very heartening. She also talks a lot about the research that Sheryl Sandberg sent to her, power dynamics and women dynamics that go on. I don't agree with all of them but that's just a general Sheryl Sandberg qualm. It's like if you want to know about Russia, read the book. If you want to know how she actually feels and how she actually is, read the book. If you think she makes these crazy decisions that you don't understand, read the book.
Ann: One thing I was kind of curious about, and granted I haven't read the book, is the reaction to the fact that 53% of white women did not vote for her. Because she said a bunch of times that she did not expect to win white voters full-stop, but you have to believe that she expected to win women as a category and we all know that is an incredibly broad category that is not really easily broken down in terms of one vote. But yeah, so I don't know, thoughts about what she says in the book about white women in particular?
Ann: How you think -- basically I'm curious too in your thoughts about what she says about that.
Aminatou: Good question Ann Friedman.
Ann: [Laughs] Stop.
Aminatou: So she definitely talks -- she definitely talks about it in the book, and it is really interesting. So one of the points that she makes is she actually had more white women voters than Obama did which is a thing that I don't know that I knew, but I also don't know that I care. And also, you know . . .
Ann: Somehow that just makes me more disappointed in white women in general.
Aminatou: Yo, white women as an electorate a very disappointing.
Ann: I know. I know.
Aminatou: This goes back a long time. You know? And she . . . and that's where some of that Sheryl Sandberg research I was telling you about comes into play, like trying to diagnose why women did not -- like she was not appealing to them. And some of it I buy and some of it I don't buy because I think that it's more complicated than that, you know? And so I would say my hokey answer is read the book and we can talk about it more. But the other . . . I think that we give -- we give white voters leeway. We give white voters more leeway than we give anybody else, and so it's like they . . . they're allowed to be complicated and have sometimes deplorable views, sometimes whatever views, but everybody else's vote is locked in somehow. And they can . . .
Ann: And you think that her assessment of white voters is they're complicated? Is that what you're saying?
Aminatou: I think that everybody's assessment of white voters is that they're complicated.
Ann: But hers specifically.
Aminatou: Yeah, I think that's the Sheryl Sandberg research that I don't necessarily agree with that white women are . . . like they're socialized and conditioned to not see powerful women or whatever. And I was like no, some of this is just that racism was a huge part of this election. It was like people hated on the former black president so much that these things happened. But also, you know, I think that one thing that I took away from the book that I hadn't considered for myself personally is how much so much of the Russian meddling, like to whatever degree it is, is a variable in the election that just adds an unknowable quantity to almost everything else.
Aminatou: And so I think that that was . . . that is like a dose of skepticism that I didn't have coming in. Like obviously we have joked about Russian conspiracy theories or whatever, or the election possibly being stolen, but I think that whenever I started looking at it through the lens of the person who lost the election and going through every bit of criticism, it's like well, you lost white women. Well, you didn't campaign in the rust belt. Well, you didn't do this and this and this. Where it was almost like I needed that Occam's razor kind of mind frame.
Aminatou: To be like oh, this big, unknowable over here has affected all of these things in a way that maybe we will never know.
Ann: Yeah, and how do you write a book called What Happened without us having all the details about what happened with this big factor?
Aminatou: Yeah. It was like it's -- and to be clear, in the book she takes full responsibility for the campaign that she ran. Like one of the policy points that I thought was really fascinating is she goes through all of the policies that they had considered running on and ended up not running on. I didn't know, or it was not previously reported before, that they had looked at universal basic income for example and seeing kind of how the sausage gets made of like here are all the ideas at the beginning and here's how you winnow that down. And a lot of the policy people on her campaign were women like Heather Boushey. And so that part was super interesting and I hope even people who are not policy wonks or just baby policy aficionados like me will care about that.
Ann: Please don't call yourself a baby policy aficionado. You're an adult policy aficionado for sure. [Laughs] Yeah, I also loved how -- it did kind of make sense that she made that comment about funding or asked us about funding because she doesn't, at least in her conversation with you, she didn't say that her primary role moving forward is as a fundraiser for sort of like progressive causes. But that was clearly -- you know, she's doing this Onward Together thing. There's something that, I don't know, I was reading between the lines about her role in the future having to do with money and so she's got this 501(c)(4) that's funding Swing Left and Color of Change and Indivisible and Run for Something which we featured on this podcast and I just thought that was interesting. She wasn't like "Hello. I'm a money lady now. I'm throwing money at the stuff I believe in and that's where I'm going to exert my influence." But that's something that I clearly -- that I picked up on. And I love that's why she was asking us about that right out of the gate.
Aminatou: Yeah. She's great. I can't believe she's not our president. I think that . . . I will ask myself that like every day until I die probably, like it is the time we are living in is crazy. You know, another thing that was really exciting about talking to her besides talking to her -- oh my god, I talked to her [Laughs] -- was the . . . you know, it's thinking kind of about our larger project this year on CYG that's talking to women in politics and encouraging women to run for office, right? And if anything I hope that this conversation is an encouragement to a lot of people, right? Because it's like you're not going to win everything but also you're not going to get anywhere if you don't try. So I'm really, really looking forward for us to talk to more women in politics this year.
Ann: Totally. And the fact that she is such a non-representative example, like if you look at all the studies about women running for office in America once you hit a certain level there's no good data because there simply aren't enough people. And Hillary is like the prime example of that, right? If you talk to researchers they're like "We don't have info on women running for president. We have info on Hillary Clinton running for president." And so what is sort of exciting about this is thinking of it as one thing that will become part of some data in the future as opposed to closed door, end of story, just Hillary.
Aminatou: Totally. Also I'm just going to end on this: Hillary Clinton is amazing. I really admire her and I'm really sad that she's not president but I'm really glad that she's going to help make the next woman president, or the first woman president rather.
Ann: Oh, now I'm feeling emotional again.
Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com, download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts, or on Apple Podcasts where we would love it if you left us a review. You can email us, email@example.com, or on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at callyrgf. You can even leave us a short and sweet voice mail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. Our theme song is by Robyn, original music composed by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs. Our logos are by Kenny Shesneed (?). This podcast is produced by the beautiful, wonderful, and amazingly-dressed Gina Delvac. Special thanks to Jay Cranz, Amanda Rose Smith, and Jeff Benis.
Hillary: I'm Hillary Clinton. See you on the Internet.