Hillary Clinton came, saw and conquered at our Irish America Hall of Fame luncheon on Monday, March 16 leaving no one in any doubt as to her future plans.
She clearly enjoyed being among friends. As MSNBC noted, “Bill Clinton once called his visit to Northern Ireland 20 years ago 'the best two days of my presidency.' And an event honoring his wife’s role in the region’s peace process Monday may have made the day the best for Hillary Clinton in some time.”
It is so hard to separate the woman from the stock figure so reviled or beloved depending on how you view her politics.
Yet the woman who sat down beside me for lunch at the Essex House hotel seemed almost too ordinary and down-to-earth to be true.
She was our keynote speaker at the Irish America Hall of Fame luncheon and a capacity crowd was in attendance, including every major news network.
It reminded me of Sting’s haunting words “Every move you make.” Hillary Clinton is watched like no other figure in American politics, perhaps ever. Yet, despite all the insane scrutiny, there is realm of normalcy and ability to listen that is very striking.
I met her first in 1995 during the Clintons' first visit to Ireland. She retains that same ability that she had back then to listen and absorb. Her husband is a more natural politician, but Hillary is a better listener.
She discussed her new grandchild, talked about how women have to take more time to get ready for public appearances, told jokes against herself and radiated an inner poise.
Hillary Clinton is secure in herself, something very few politicians are. It is a brutal profession requiring a set of masks, feigned interests, obeisance to a very fickle and sometimes deeply unfair public.
Some can fake the sincerity and feigned interest, others can genuinely stay committed to whatever vision first got them involved in politics. I’m certain Hillary is the latter.
Hillary knows all the pitfalls, bears the scars of it, yet soldiers on, a happy warrior in a game so vicious that I have no doubt her opponents would happily spend billions to defeat her.
Why this 67-year old grandmother still fights the fight while an easy and extremely lucrative retirement could beckon is an oft discussed question.
The answer seems obvious after spending time together. She still feels she has work to do.
As a Midwesterner and Methodist she has a deep sense of obligation and a strong work ethic. She clearly feels that she has not completed that task yet.
Some politicians revel in power for power’s sake. Others stop listening. I remember a few years back interviewing the late New York Mayor Ed Koch and realizing he had long since shut out all the questions and was giving the stock answers irrespective of what the questions were. He had simply stopped listening.
Hillary keeps herself grounded. How exactly I don't know, but I suspect she has family, friends and an inner coterie that help her stay real in a very unreal world.
I think she actually enjoys the job and seeking to make a difference. She seeks the highest office in the land not out of entitlement, as her detractors claim, but because she still feels she can make that difference.
That ability to listen makes her a very dangerous opponent. Hillary 2.0 is not really that different from who she always was. Sincerity, ultimately, cannot be faked in politics as charlatans on the left and right ultimately discover. It could well be why Hillary will end up in the White House again.