The former secretary of state finally accepted Cohen’s invitation this week, albeit amid a presidential campaign season in which she has much less at stake. Free of the constraints of holding or running for office, Clinton swung by the show to promote “Hillary,” a documentary series streaming on Hulu. She confessed to having been more guarded before; now, she explained, she has the ability to comment on current events and her own life without fearing “how things can be taken out of context.”
Her “Watch What Happens Live” appearance didn’t much reflect this newfound freedom.
A surprising portion of the half-hour episode, filmed Wednesday and aired Thursday night, focused on Clinton’s tenure as first lady. Cohen displayed a photo of Clinton delivering her 1995 speech on women’s rights in Beijing, as well as another of himself visiting the White House that same year. A few drag queens showed up dressed as Clinton at various points in her life, with one sporting a coifed ’90s bob. Asked what she thinks of the current first lady swatting her husband’s hand away, Clinton diplomatically stated, “I am the last person to comment on anyone’s relationship.”
This response seemed to hint at the Clintons’ past marital trouble — a subtle acknowledgment of the decades-old scandal that wound up making headlines once again the day after the episode was shot, when former president Bill Clinton caught flak online for describing his affair with then-intern Monica Lewinsky as a way to “manage my anxieties.” Elsewhere in the interview, a viewer’s question prompted the former first lady to comment on how her husband of 44 years is “so romantic and so sensitive.”
Cohen managed to get a little more out of Clinton when she revealed that while she has spoken with a number of current and recent presidential candidates, she has “most notably” not been in touch with her former opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whom she says in the docuseries “just drove me crazy.”
“Politics should be the art of addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division,” Clinton said to Cohen. “If somebody reaches out, I will always meet with that person.”
Clinton reserved some more heat for the “idiots” who grilled her for 11 hours during the House Select Committee’s Benghazi hearing in 2015. When Cohen asked whom she wishes she could have run against instead of Donald Trump, she responded, “Any normal Republican.” She also praised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) decision to rip a copy of Trump’s State of the Union speech following his most recent address, calling it an “interesting and effective gesture.”
This political commentary falls in line with what viewers can expect from “Hillary,” directed by Nanette Burstein. In his review of the docuseries, The Post’s Hank Stuever points out that it includes “many moments of clearheaded connecting of an essential series of sociopolitical dots. In seven decades of striving, Clinton failed to win a game that was often rigged against her, often based on the fickle definitions of likability, personality and something akin to possessing the Holy Spirit.”
In “Hillary,” Stuever continues, “Clinton herself is relaxed, open and, well, just the sort of person pollsters and pundits kept saying she should be.”
But on “Watch What Happens Live,” Clinton’s declared stance against divisiveness seemed to fuel mild answers. The episode concluded with the trademark “Plead the Fifth” game, which allows guests to pass on only one of three questions and therefore tends to produce the strongest sound bites.
In Clinton’s case, it was revealed that she thinks Trump is a cyberbully, that she pushed for a health-care overhaul in the ’90s and, finally, that she would never tell another politician that they have bad breath.