In advance of next month's arrival of Hillary Clinton's memoir of her time as Secretary of State — "Hard Choices" — she released the "author's note" Tuesday, a move aimed at influencing/shaping/creating the narrative around the book's publication. (Politicians don't typically do things accidentally — especially politicians with the last name "Clinton.")
So, in the wacky event you don't read the entire "author's note" — heaven forfend! — we've boiled down the three passages from it that matter in some way, shape or form as a window into Clinton's mind. Before we go any further, it's worth noting that the ratio of trying to understand what Clinton is thinking to Clinton actually ever explaining what she is thinking is roughly 1 billion to one — so all of this is reading between the tea leaves if you will. With that caveat out of the way, we plunge forward.
1. "And my heart and head together sent me into public service. Along the way, I’ve tried not to make the same mistake twice, to learn, to adapt, and to pray for the wisdom to make better choices in the future."
"I've tried not to make the same mistake twice," Clinton writes. So, what sorts of mistakes has she made once that she won't make again? Hmmm, could one be the way in which she ran for president — and lost — in 2008? Clinton has avoided any deep public reflection on what went wrong in that race, in which she started as a heavy frontrunner and by the end of February 2008 had effectively lost. There have been inklings in her public speeches of late that Clinton will focus far more on the historic nature of her candidacy as potentially the first woman president than she did in 2008. And, it appears as though her core advisers will be a somewhat different group than they were six years ago — including several Obamans. Even putting all that 50-foot chatter aside, the 50,000-foot view from the two sentences above is quite clear: She's getting ready to right the biggest mistake of her political career.
2. "While my views and experiences will surely be scrutinized by followers of Washington’s long-running soap opera — who took what side, who opposed whom, who was up and who was down — I didn’t write this book for them."
This is pure Clinton — straight from the heart. She dislikes and distrusts the media, believing that journalists care far more about who likes whom (and who doesn't) than about the good of the country. (There's a good piece by Ken Auletta in the new issue of the New Yorker detailing the long-held antipathy between Clintonworld and the press.)
Clinton follows the sentence above with an extended paean to the regular people who are striving and struggling every day. (That's who she's writing the book for, of course.) Combine those two passages and the intent is clear: Clinton won't be a candidate for and about Washington, she will be one of the people. Clinton as a non-D.C. populist is a tough sell — she has been in and around the nation's Capitol (and its upper echelons of power) for the better part of the past two decades. But if there's anything that regular people and Hillary Clinton share, it's a genuine dislike for the media.
3. "One thing that has never been a hard choice for me is serving our country. It has been the greatest honor of my life."
How do you write this line — and read it in the audiobook — without having essentially decided to run for president? It's literally impossible to imagine that Clinton wouldn't be aware of how these two sentences would play. Yes, she has served the country — as first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state. But the context of this memoir is her positioning/decision-making on a 2016 bid. Given that backdrop, saying that the one thing that's not been a hard choice is serving the country seems as close as Clinton can come to saying she is running for president without actually, you know, saying she is running for president.
Read the entire "author's note." It's hard to conclude anything from it other than that Hillary Clinton is planning to run for president in 2016, and this book is part of the framing of that bid. Heck, put aside the content and remember that this was a purposeful leak of the author's note(!) of the book by Clintonworld, and the message seems absolutely unmistakable.