I asked Bill Clinton once what was the toughest part of being president.
He instantly replied that it was the constant decision-making: day after day, hour after hour, staffers putting documents to sign, decisions to make in front of him.
Even when exhausted and tired that process went on and on, he said. The reality of making mistakes was always there, especially given there were so many decisions to make on so many different matters. Inevitably mistakes were made.
The president these days exists in a media world gone mad, where every word, syllable, and thought is immediately parsed and adjudicated on by a media that cares little about anything other than the next headline and not getting scooped.
Most have become the peanut gallery ready to fire their missiles in every direction at once, not caring who they hit.
Then there’s the social media, the trolls with their undying hatreds, the dysfunction in the system. It affects every president, Republican or Democrat.
In light of Bill Clinton's words it was interesting to see Hillary make some heartfelt comments on the darker side of the power and the glory of the presidency.
Is this grandmother of one who will be 69 on election day having second thoughts? She could be and who could blame her?
She knows what the campaign is like, the exhaustion, the constant scrutiny. I remember attending an event for her in the middle of the 2008 campaign at a time when it was obvious Obama was going to win. She had a bad flu, looked terrible, yet had to keep on going on gamely. I wondered at the time how she did it.
Speaking yesterday and appearing unusually reflective in public, she said being president was tough. She had just spent an hour with Obama at the Oval Office and remembered how many presidents she had met met and knew and how tough the job was.
It's tough, she said,"Because you can easily lose touch with what’s real, what’s authentic, who you were before you were sworn in to office … Whether it’s a man or a woman, the support system is absolutely critical. It used to be, in years past, presidents like the Roosevelts, or Harry Truman … they would go away, they would go to their ranch or their home or, in Harry Truman’s case, he’d get on the presidential yacht and he’d sail down to Key West. … They wanted to breathe, they wanted to think."
As for the presidency, Clinton said the support structure from family and friends is vital.
“The incoming never ends. Technology connects you around the world instantaneously, you’re constantly being asked for opinions and to make decisions,” Clinton said. “The pace of demands is so intense that you feel like you’ve got to respond. So the job is unforgiving in many ways, and therefore, I think you need people around you who will kid you or make fun of you.
“I have no such shortage of people in my own life,” she added. “But seriously, I think you would want people who are there because they can revitalize your energy, your thinking, get you to perhaps take yourself less seriously, and, if necessary, listen to you as you work through some of the incredibly hard problems that exist.”
To me, she sounds like a woman with a large philosophical and political decision still to make. And who can blame her?
Warren Buffett offered his support yesterday, making clear he wanted her in the White House but all the money and consultants in the world will not make a difference when she faces that critical question. Is the fire in me? Do I go one more time?
We will soon know that answer.