|Hillary Clinton at the US Embassy in Dublin (Credit: Rueters)|
It rained cats and dogs in Dublin on Thursday but that hardly bothered the gawkers or the thousand or so gathered in line to hear Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak.
She was in Dublin to address students and the general pubic at the Helix Auditorium on the campus of Dublin City University (DCU) on Dublin’s north side, on the topic of human rights.
Unlike Bill Clinton, who approached every public appearance like a jazz riff, arriving late and meandering down a receiving line like a drunken sailor, Hillary is far more efficient and time conscious.
Once at a fundraiser I helped organize for the Clintons, Bill was on time much to the relief of his officials. Suddenly he ducked into the hotel’s kitchen and re-appeared a half-hour later surrounded by waiters and busboys.
When Hillary arrived at DCU, there was no such meanderings as she quickly made her way down the VIP receiving line remembering every name and face.
As First Lady she was stand offish and ill at ease, these days she positively bonds with everyone in sight.
While Bill is the original emoticon smiley face, Hillary has become far more comfortable around people and it shows.
Aides say she studies names and faces intently, especially on foreign trips, and has never been known to get a leader’s name wrong.
Before her talk she laughed and smiled and preened for pictures, as always comfortable among Irish friends who have become a mainstay of her political career.
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Preliminaries completed the major topic when the Secretary of State disappeared backstage to complete her hairdo.
It really wasn't a hairdo, it was a pony tail as far as I could see, hair severely pulled back from her head and tied at the back.
“Don’t like it,” said one usher, decidedly opposed.
”Makes her look older, she should have it done glamorous like.”
“I loved it,” said a woman on the receiving line, fearful perhaps that someone in Hillary’s camp would overhear.
Everyone agrees she looks tired, puffy around the eyes, in need of a break. She admits so herself.
She has traveled over a million miles and to 112 countries. She has lived on a plane. Her aide Huma Abedin says it is all like a blur these days.
By all accounts the 757 State Department plane is not that comfortable as a residence.
Many present in Dublin were hoping she would be swapping it for Air Force One sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Her appearance before the audience in Dublin City University was one highlight of a day that included dinner with old friends at a Stephen’s Green club called The Residence.
There she sat among 20 or so compatriots and Irish born who have been with her through all the trials and tribulations and high points of her successful career.
I was lucky to be there and to break bread with the most extraordinary woman in the history of American politics, one who many consider just one campaign away from the White House.
Each of her friends stood up and spoke about what her friendship had meant. I talked about that magical day in Belfast in December 1995 when she and Bill as president and First Lady visited Northern Ireland for the first time and changed the North for ever. It was one of the greatest moments of my life.
Interesting that what was on her mind was the Gerry Adamsvisa when she spoke, the defining moment as she saw it in her and her husband’s involvement in Irish affairs.
As she prepares to embark on the next phase of her life, Hillary Clinton will have the world playing the usual guessing game that has become such a part of her stock in trade.
She teases, maddens, but rarely disappoints. Like what her latest hair do will be, she can be an international woman of mystery, waiting to unveil her latest move.
Me? I believe she will run in 2016. Her time in Ireland has only reinforced that for me. There is too much history being made to stop now.