TIME 2016 Election

The Myth of Inevitability

Silhouetted by a stage light, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the University of the Western Cape about U.S.-South Africa partnership, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012, in Cape Town, South Africa. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
The Myth of Inevitability: Nothing is certain in 2016 Jacquelyn Martin—AP

Nothing is certain for Hillary Clinton in 2016

We have reached, believe it or not, the first crucial moment in the 2016 presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton has written a book. It will be launched, with Vesuvian hoopla, on June 10. Her schedule will be incredible for the weeks thereafter–an hour interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, for starters; Good Morning America the next morning; a town meeting with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. There will be joint appearances with Bill and Chelsea. And attention, Costco shoppers! Hillary Clinton will be signing copies of Hard Choices at Costco’s Arlington, Va., store on Saturday, June 14.

We are sure to be smothered by Hillary (or Hillary!, as an old campaign button had it) well past the summer solstice. There will be reviews and nonstop attempts to tease policy and controversy from the substance of the book, which concerns her time as Secretary of State. Her account of the Benghazi controversy has already been leaked. In it, she says she was “ultimately responsible” for the insufficient security at the consulate there, even though it was well below her pay grade. Happily, she fights back against the bizarre Republican campaign to find a scandal amid the tragedy. This is called getting out in front of the story, a common political strategy. Hard Choices is, like almost everything else Clinton, a campaign. How it is promoted and received will say a lot about the campaign to come, if it is to come.

As always, there will be a festering low road of speculation about Clinton herself, her health, her hair, her husband. And as always, a squalid tabloid underbuzz: Did she ask Chelsea to become pregnant to give her campaign a soft, grandmotherly tinge? Will new Whitewater papers reveal that the real estate deal was really a conspiracy to sell heroin? Monica Lewinsky has already reappeared and disappeared, coming out of seclusion to tell her story for the umpteenth time. The Clintons have long held an unprecedented primacy in academic journals and supermarket tabloids. That’s why we can’t take our eyes off them. They have big thoughts; they are creative policymakers who balance budgets; they care about the average guy, his widow and orphan. And yet their private world often seems laced with circus-sideshow overreach, both purposeful and accidental: Bill Clinton abandoned McDonald’s to become a vegan. Hillary’s top aide, Huma Abedin, married the tweeting exhibitionist Anthony Weiner.

Inevitably, there will be political speculation. Does this book mean she is running? Does her book tour prove that she “takes all the oxygen” out of the Democratic race? Is she “inevitable”? Is the Benghazi chapter “enough” to quiet the controversy? Will she learn to love the media–and will the media stop being so trashball in its Clinton coverage?

As a veteran Clinton watcher, I approach the coming spectacle with a combination of obsession, exhaustion, dread and exhilaration. This is going to be horrible fun–and crucial, as the Clintons always are. If she runs.

For the sake of magazine sales, let’s say she’s running. She’s got it locked, right? She’s the Democratic nominee at the very least, right? Ask any Republican and they’ll tell you she’s a cinch. They’ve already started their general-election campaign against her. Karl Rove is speculating that the fall she took at the end of her time as Secretary of State caused traumatic brain injury. Others fantasize that she conspired to have Lewinsky tell her story now, to get it out of the way–as if anything could. And congressional Republicans have dragged Benghazi back into public view, with stacked hearings that will amount, no doubt, to a hill of beans. Most Democrats think that she’ll not only waltz to the nomination but also crush anyone the Republicans put up, except maybe Jeb Bush–and hasn’t the Bush family saga become a moldy oldie over the decades?

But wait a minute. Aren’t the Clintons approaching their sell-by date too? Aren’t we about to become tired of their personal and policy baggage and retinue of overcaffeinated too-loyal aides spewing talking points on cable news? It can and will also be argued that the Clintons are out of touch with millennials and their handheld virtual society, out of touch with the growing populism of the Democratic Party, too closely aligned with Wall Street and untrammeled free trade, too hawkish, too closely aligned with an unpopular incumbent President. (Of course, Obama could easily rebound.) It can and will be argued, as always, that Hillary is stiff, programmed, overcautious. Exhibit A: her book-tour schedule.

It is possible, maybe even probable, that all these arguments will have the same effect on the Clinton juggernaut as a flea on a rhinoceros. Clinton is said to be the best-prepared politician to run for President in our lifetime, and that is probably true. She knows the issues, foreign and domestic; no one will outwonk her. She has the potential to run the table when it comes to big donors and endorsements. She has a presidential temperament–prudent, patient and tough. She is both funny and wise: ask anyone, Republican or Democrat, who has ever sat in a policy meeting with her. She started as a lousy stump politician but became a real trouper in the crucible of the 2008 primary campaign against Obama, especially in Pennsylvania, where she started hanging out in bars and bowling alleys and taught white working-class males that she was no quitter. Indeed, the lessons she learned in the 2008 primaries may be her quiet competitive advantage in 2016. Finally, she is a woman–an aspect of her candidacy that was foolishly underplayed by her advisers in 2008. As such, she lives in history.

Some presidential campaigns are about inevitability. Others are about energy. The best have both, but it’s rare: inevitability tends to crush energy. It makes candidates cautious. In 2000, George W. Bush raised a ton of money and secured a ton of endorsements. He was skating toward the nomination, according to the polls. “It’s amazing how close we came to losing,” says Matthew Dowd, who worked for Bush. “We were hanging on by our fingernails after McCain beat us by 18 points in New Hampshire, but McCain made some mistakes in South Carolina,” and Bush turned vicious, “and we were lucky to win.” Lest we forget: an inevitable candidate named Hillary Clinton was blindsided by Barack Obama’s energy in 2008.

Obama may be her greatest challenge in 2016 as well. It’s been reported that she has scrubbed Hard Choices for any negative references to the President. But any candidate following a two-term President has to figure out a “kinder, gentler” way to distinguish herself from her predecessor. People always want a change, a fact Al Gore and John McCain found out the hard way. It will be trickier if Obama remains unpopular. Inevitability is reality’s first casualty. If Obama makes a big mistake overseas or the economy flops, Clinton’s first job will be to say what she’d do differently, without offending the Democratic base who’ll remain loyal to the President no matter what.

Even if Obama successfully navigates his last two years in office, Clinton is likely to face more than one energy candidate in 2016. Former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer, profiled by Michael Scherer on page 36, is as entertaining as a presidential candidate should be allowed to be, and substantive too. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has a new book out–aha! (perhaps)–and is wowing the Democratic left at their partisan powwows. And former Virginia Senator Jim Webb–who also has a new book out, aha!–has not ruled out a presidential campaign. All three would challenge Clinton from the populist left, a force that is growing noisier within the party, if not more populous. The moderate governors, like New York’s Andrew Cuomo and Maryland’s Martin O’Malley, probably won’t run if Clinton does.

Any of the three populists could run an exciting and perhaps even successful campaign against Clinton. She has real vulnerabilities and, yes, hard choices to make on policies she is assumed to have inherited from her husband, especially regarding the primacy of Wall Street and free trade. Bill Clinton essentially deregulated Wall Street while he was President–repealing the Glass-Steagall laws and refusing to regulate the exotic derivatives that helped cause the stock-market crash of 2008. Will Hillary Clinton move away from those positions? Is she willing to walk away from the egregious buckraking and speechmaking she and her husband have done with the global megarich in the service of the Clinton Global Initiative? “If not, she’s red meat in this new age of economic populism,” says David “Mudcat” Saunders, a Democratic consultant who has been close to Jim Webb in the past.

I recently asked Webb what he saw when he looked at America a year after he left the Senate. “Groundhog Day,” he said. Nothing had changed. In his book I Heard My Country Calling, Webb writes about a country “governed by a club of insiders who manipulate public opinion in order to serve the interests of hidden elites who hold the reins of power.” That could be a call to arms for Democratic populists and Tea Partyers alike. It is a bit over the top–hidden elites?–but it is a voice to be reckoned with in a ticked-off America.

There is also a bubbling-up of what the historian Fred Siegel calls gentry liberals, the old alliance of guilt-ridden limousine riders and (mostly African-American) minority groups who are itchy to file grievances again after 50 years of remarkable progress. A 2003 Brookings Institution study showed that if you graduate from high school, wait until marriage to have no more than two babies and have a job (any job, and there are plenty out there), the chances of your living in poverty are 3.7%. Those sorts of stats–and there are plenty of others like them–are downplayed by a new generation of African-American activists and by mayors like New York City’s Bill de Blasio, who has lifted some of the work requirements imposed by Bill Clinton for people on welfare. The left argues that times have changed. The economy has changed. It’s harder to get a job. Will Clinton modify her long-held positions on welfare and the importance of two-parent families?

Then there is her foreign policy. Robert Gates’ fabulously candid memoir about his time as Secretary of Defense has some juicy tidbits–like the fact that Clinton stood to his right on the Afghan surge in 2009. He favored adding 30,000 more troops; Clinton and General Stan McChrystal favored 40,000. Her support of the war in Iraq, except for the 2007 surge there, is also on the record–but Gates has her admitting that her opposition to the surge was “political.”

That is probably the ultimate argument against Clinton. She can be prohibitively “political” and far more cautious than she needs to be. The trouble is, presidential campaigns can’t be managed like book tours. They tend to be overwhelmed by events and trivialities. There is a constant gotcha contest with the press. In a recent Politico article about Clinton and the press, one of her advisers is quoted: “Look, she hates you. Period. That is not going to change.” To make things worse, her top communications adviser, Phillippe Reines, argued that Clinton didn’t really hate the press. She brought bagels to the back of the bus. But bringing bagels to the back of the bus is an embarrassingly transparent ploy. Bringing candor to the back of the bus might be a little more successful. I’ve seen her candor more than once, but always off the record. That will have to change. If Hillary Clinton hopes to succeed, she’s going to have to drop the veil–spontaneously, quite possibly in a crucial moment, like a debate–and trust the public to accept who she really is. Absent that, there is no such thing as inevitability.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Brian Schweitzer Isn’t Holding Much Back as 2016 Approaches

Former Democratic Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer at the Montana AFL-CIO annual convention in Billings, Mont. on May 10, 2013
Former Democratic Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer at the Montana AFL-CIO annual convention in Billings, Mont. on May 10, 2013 Matt Brown—AP

Would he be a better president than Hillary Clinton? He thinks so

To get rid of the trash, former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer either has to drive it away in a pickup from his remote lake house or burn it in a rusty oil barrel. But with the cellular signal from a nearby tower, he is able to broadcast live high-definition video of himself from his wine cellar to MSNBC viewers all over the country.

That same technology has also allowed him emerge in the last several months as a notable force in Democratic politics, as he has begun to explore publicly the possibility of a 2016 presidential bid and offer criticisms of President Obama and his heir apparent, Hillary Clinton. In this week’s TIME magazine, I have a story about Schweitzer on the range, his views of the party, and his thoughts on how to win in 2016. (The story is free to read online for subscribers. Everyone else click here to subscribe.) Suffice it to say, he is not just another Democratic candidate.

The story was reported over two days in May in and around his home, taking walks, riding horses, traveling the countryside in a six-wheel Polaris ATV and crossing the local roads in his pickup truck. He talked pretty much the whole time. Not all of the newsworthy things he said made it into print.

Here is a selection of his views on everything from Obama to Clinton to Republican resistance to comprehensive immigration reform. More, of course, can be found in the magazine.

On the Barack Obama presidency

I was very hopeful. I was like everyone else. I’m an idealist. And when Obama was elected, all of these things were going to happen. We were going to get out of these foreign entanglements. We were going to show the world that we were a country of laws, and we were going to close Guantanamo Bay. We were going to have a healthcare system that actually worked, that challenged expenses. But one by one, all that stuff was dashed.

Some of it is because they didn’t move fast enough, and some of it was dashed because you get to Washington, D.C., and it turns out that the Republicans are mostly owned by corporate America and the Democrats are partially owned by corporate America. The same insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, the same military industrial complex that fills the coffers for Republican reelections, they filled the coffers of Democrats for reelection. So that things don’t get done shouldn’t surprise you because it’s safe not to get things done. The status quo works.

On Hillary Clinton

You can’t be the candidate that shakes down more money on Wall Street than anybody since, I don’t know, Woodrow Wilson, and be the populist. You can’t be the one to say we’re going to focus on rebuilding America if you voted to go to the Iraq war. There were 30 some Democrats who voted against that.

On whether he would be a better president than Hillary Clinton

Well, I think so, of course. I think I have a background and a resume that isn’t just in government. But the time I was in government, I was a chief executive. And as I said to you before, you can go around Montana and ask people what they think of me and they will say, “Well I didn’t always agree with him, but I always knew where he stood and he was good with money.” That’s what they will say to a person. And I think there is one thing we all can agree on: they are not good with money in Washington, D.C.

On the 2002 vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq

I watched [Former West Virginia Sen.] Robert Byrd stand up and beg this country not to go to war in Iraq. And I would have been standing right beside him. A young guy, not an old guy, and I would have been saying, “I lived there [in the Middle East]. Are you f—ing crazy. Iraq is fighting the war against Iran. We are creating a vacuum, and we will have to fill it, or the Iranians will.”

On the hazards of working in Washington, D.C.

I do know this. If someone has been entrenched in Washington, D.C., for 8, 10, 12, 20 years, they are bought and paid for by the special interests. Not because they wanted to, not because they consider themselves corrupt, but because first there is a deal, and then another deal, and then they look the other way on big banks, and then you look the other way on regulation, and then you allow outsourcing of taxes, and then you allow the military industrial complex to talk you into voting for another war, and pretty soon you look at yourself in the mirror and you go, “My God, I’m all of those things that I hated when I came here.”

On the questions Democrats should ask themselves in deciding the 2016 nominee

Are we going to choose more leadership that is going to roll over and get scratched on the belly by corporations like a fat dog? Are we going to be able to reform this healthcare system so it is one that doesn’t hand your taxpayer dollars to private insurance companies? Are we going to force the pharmaceutical companies to sell medicine in the United States for the same price as they do to the rest of the world?

On immigration reform

Let me tell you who is rethinking their position on immigration. Not the Republican party. The Cheyenne, the Gravant, the Salish, the Crow. You know, they’d like to have that decision back. All the rest of us, what kind of royalty was your family when they got here? I know my family wasn’t royalty. They came here with just the clothes on their back and faith in God and high hopes and for the most part no place to go.

On the Democratic big tent

We are a big and diverse country and for the Democratic Party to be successful we have to be a big and diverse party. It has to be that same party that not only respects gay and lesbian rights and transgender rights in San Francisco, but respects that blue collar guy who takes a shower at the end of the day and not in the morning.

On the difference between big state and small state governors

Almost without fail, politicians that come from New York and Texas and California and Florida and Illinois, their personal game, their ability to connect one-on-one, their ability to walk into a room and light it up, is nothing like the folks that come from the Dakotas and Nebraska and Arkansas. Because in a place like Montana you don’t win an election by those TV ads. They know you — “Yeah I met him, I know his sister, I knew his parents.” And almost without fail if you walk in and take a look at the governors, you can pick out the ones from the big states.

On his strategy if he decides to get in the race

Look, if you wanted to make a big machine that matches the machine that is likely to be built around Hillary then you would have to have started eight years ago. But if the outcome is always known with a superior slow moving army then we would still be part of England and we would still have a king. And Hillary would be president, or whatever you have under a king, but certainly it would not have been Obama.

 

TIME russia

Putin on Clinton: ‘It’s Better Not to Argue With Women’

"Maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman," Putin said

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered some decidedly 19th century reasons for avoiding a debate with Hillary Clinton.

“It’s better not to argue with women,” he said in an interview with Radio Europe 1 transcribed and posted to the Russian President’s official website on Wednesday.

Putin was asked how he might respond to Clinton’s recent comments comparing Russia’s intervention in Ukraine to Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Europe. Clinton has since walked back the statement.

“When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak,” Putin said, “but maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman.”

To which the interviewer responded: “Women must be respected, of course, and I’m sure you respect them.”

Putin had no direct response.

TIME Military

Hillary Clinton: Bergdahl’s Release Justified

We have a "tradition" of bringing soldiers home, said Clinton, "and I ascribe to it"

+ READ ARTICLE

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that the United States has a “tradition” of not leaving soldiers in captivity, when commenting about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s controversial release.

“We do have a tradition and I ascribe to it,” Clinton said. “We try not to leave any of our soldiers on the field. We try to make sure, insofar as possible, you know, we bring them home.”

The army sergeant was released on Saturday after five years of captivity by the Taliban in Afghanistan, in exchange for the release of five prisoners from Guantánamo Bay. Some Republicans have criticized the White House for negotiating with the militant group.

TIME 2016 Election

Between The Lines Of Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Book Chapter

Hillary Clinton
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the New America Foundation (NAF) conference at the Newseum on May 16, 2014 in Washington. Olivier Douliery—ABACA USA

"Hard Choices" offers an exquisitely lawyerly version of Benghazi that is less inaccurate than some Republican accounts.

If you want the simple truth about Benghazi, it’s this:

  • As protests against an anti-Islamic video raged in 40 countries around the world on Sept. 11 and 12, 2012, major American media outlets incorrectly reported that protests preceded the attacks on U.S. buildings in Benghazi, too.
  • Despite evidence the attacks were in fact a coordinated assault by heavily armed Islamic militants, the CIA believed the incorrect media reports and spent the following week repeating them to the Obama administration and members of Congress.
  • The Obama administration and members of Congress in turn repeated them to the public, giving Americans the mistaken impression two months before the 2012 Presidential election that four U.S. officials, including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed by demonstrators not terrorists.

If, on the other hand, you want a truth that accommodates the best interests of those who, wittingly or not, contributed to that mistaken impression, you will get this:

There were scores of attackers that night, almost certainly with differing motives… It is inaccurate to state that every single one of them was influenced by this hateful video. It is equally inaccurate to state that none of them were. Both assertions defy not only the evidence but logic as well.

That appears to be the bottom line representation of the origins of the Benghazi attack presented in the 34-page chapter on the subject in Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming book, “Hard Choices,” which was leaked to Politico this week. It is an exquisitely lawyerly, and factually accurate, assertion.

It’s also largely beside the point. No doubt the perpetrators of every terrorist attack of the last 20 years acted with “differing motives.” But no mainstream media outlet or politician took “differing motives” as justification, at the time or months later, to frame 9/11 or the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as the result of popular outrage rather than militancy. In retrospect, the mistaken assertion of “protests” at Benghazi is not hard to understand–in three of the 40 countries where protests were taking place, U.S. facilities were attacked by demonstrators. That doesn’t justify the error.

But the Benghazi narrative has drifted so far from the context of the actual events that it is almost impossible to have a useful debate about it. Indeed, Clinton’s version is substantially more accurate than the version of events offered by some Republicans. The GOP head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Congressman Darrell Issa of California, for example, has said he suspects Hillary Clinton told the Defense Department to “stand down” rather than launch counterstrikes against the Benghazi attackers, even though multiple bipartisan reports, including ones Issa himself signed, find no stand down orders and no communication between Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at the time. In other words, no factual evidence at all.

At some point in the coming 2016 Presidential contest there will be a debate about whether Obama administration officials used the uncertainty generated by (incorrect) media and CIA reports to maximum advantage ahead of the 2012 election. That’s called spin, and Americans have a right to know if political interests affected the presentation of the facts in the days after the Benghazi attacks.

When that debate takes place, however, another simple fact will reemerge. When the White House needed someone to appear on all five Sunday shows on Sept. 16, 2012 to translate the (incorrect) media and CIA version of events at Benghazi to the American public, Hillary Clinton stepped aside and let then-U.N. representative Susan Rice speak. It will be interesting to see if Clinton’s book has anything to say about whether that hard choice was the result of luck, wisdom or sound advice from her aides.

TIME feminism

Pharrell Says It’s ‘Not Possible’ For Him to Be a Feminist

Singer Pharrell Williams poses during the opening of the exhibition "GIRL" at the Galerie Perrotin in Paris
Singer Pharrell Williams poses during the opening of the exhibition "GIRL", with Pharrell Williams as its curator, at the Galerie Perrotin in Paris, May 26, 2014. Christian Hartmann—Reuters

The Grammy-winner defends "Blurred Lines"

Grammy winning singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams—who has skyrocketed to superstardom in the past year with the songs “Blurred Lines,” “Get Lucky” and “Happy”—addressed the debate over last year’s controversial “Blurred Lines,” which many feminists have called “kind of rapey.”

The subject came up when Pharrell began speaking about his views on feminism during the interview with the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 News. Pharrell has spoken before about his love for women and his belief in equality between the genders. His most recent album is called GIRL after all. And yet Pharrell apparently does not consider himself a feminsit:

I’ve been asked, am I a feminist? I don’t think it’s possible for me to be that…I’m a man. It makes sense up until a certain point. But what I do is—I do support feminists. I do think there’s injustices. There are inequalities that need to be addressed.

Don’t worry, male feminists—and yes we know you do exist (hello, Joseph Gordon-Levitt)—Pharrell wants to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016:

I’d love to see a woman run the country. Historically this world has been run by a man, and what would a world be like if 75 percent of our world leaders and prime ministers were female? What would that world be like? We do not know because we haven’t given it a shot. We’re too busy telling them what they can or can’t do with their bodies.

…Like when men tell women, “I know you want it”?

That line from “Blurred Lines,” Pharrell’s smash hit collaboration with Robin Thicke and T.I., is one of several lyrics in the song that have caused many to criticize it as “rapey“, a problem compounded by the accompanying music video which features naked women prancing around fully-clothed male singers.

Pharrell is far from the first celebrity to avoid the term “feminist,” despite supporting women’s equality. Shailene Woodley and Kelly Clarkson have all told TIME they are definitively not feminists. They’re joined by Carrie Underwood and Katy Perry among the celebs who will not use the term. But none of those people have ever written a lyric that reads “I know you want it.”

When Channel 4’s interviewer, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, cross-examined Pharrell on some of the more misogynistic lines in the song, the artist said:

I don’t know where [a man] forcing himself and a woman’s right to say no was ever addressed in that song… Is it sexually suggestive when a car salesman says to a person who’s trying to buy a car, ‘I know you want it?’

Guru-Murthy argued that the song—which talks about how a man wants to have sex with a woman despite the fact that she’s with another man—is not the same context as purchasing a car, to which Pharrell said:

Okay cool. But does that make it off-limits for me to use in a song, especially when the overarching context is that there are good women who also have bad thoughts? If a good woman can have sexual thoughts, is it wrong for a man to have a correct guess that a woman might want something?

Next, Guru-Murthy pressed him on the music video, in which three topless women dance around the fully-clothed male singers. The interviewer suggested that this created a power dynamic in which the women were only there as objects to please the singers:

They were? Did I touch them sexually?…So in a high fashion magazine, when women have their boobs out, is there something sexual there, too?… If you ask the director, who’s a female, she was inspired by editorials by high fashion magazines where women had their boobs out.

Finally, Guru-Murthy asks him about another line in the song, which according to Pharrell was written by T.I.: “I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two.” Does that line make Pharrell uncomfortable?

I’m not disowning the line… Why should I be uncomfortable? I love women. I love them inside and out. That song was meant for a woman to hear and say, ‘You know, I’m a good woman. And sometimes I do have bad thoughts’… Never once did I say in there anything sexual to a woman.

Watch the full interview with Pharrell here:

 

TIME 2016 Election

The 5 Least Mind-Blowing Things About Hillary Clinton’s Book Tease

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaking in Washington on May 14, 2014. Cliff Owen—AP

Clinton’s much-anticipated book is due out early next month, but early glimpses haven't given away much

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock with no media access for the last month, you’ll be well aware that former First Lady, former Secretary of State and the once-and-potentially-future presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has a book coming out next month.

Vogue readers got a first glimpse of Hard Choices in Mother’s Day excerpts which drummed up a million advance purchases of the book, but Clinton revealed more about the memoir in an author’s note on Tuesday. In it, she explores her reasons for wanting to write her eleventh tome — if you count some of her more academic early offerings — this one on her tenure as Secretary of State.

But the sneak peak doesn’t give away much about what the book actually contains — and what was included is hardly surprising. Here are five key things she was either bound to mention, or decided to skip:

1. Not mentioned: Monica

The book is called Hard Choices, she says, because of all the hard choices in life that make us who we are, whether that’s a parent, a politician or a world leader. Though she mentions the choice of “whether to get married—or stay married,” she avoids mention of a certain former White House intern who made waves with an interview of her own this month, Monica Lewinsky. And, anyway, the book is about Clinton’s time as secretary of state, so despite referencing her early choices in life in the tease, she quickly moves on to focus on her choices in office.

2. Mentioned: Osama Bin Laden

Not unsurprisingly, the lead choice is the decision to kill Osama bin Laden, which Clinton pushed for behind the scenes. Given its prominence in the teaser, it would seem this will be her top hard choice—and a very successful one at that—in her book.

3. Not mentioned: Benghazi

Some of Clinton’s less successful hard choices go unmentioned, including her response to the attack in Benghazi, Libya that claimed the lives of Amb. Chris Stevens and two other Americans. She does mention some regrets, though. “As is usually the case with the benefit of hindsight, I wish we could go back and revisit certain choices,” she says. We’ll all have to wait until the book’s release on June 10 to find out what those choices were.

4. Mentioned: Hatred for the press

In recent weeks much has been written about Clinton’s potential 2016 bid, including the fact her biggest hitch is having to deal with the media she loathes. That comes through in her teaser.

“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.

I wrote it for Americans and people everywhere who are trying to make sense of this rapidly changing world of ours, who want to understand how leaders and nations can work together and why they sometimes collide, and how their decisions affect all our lives: How a collapsing economy in Athens, Greece, affects businesses in Athens, Georgia. How a revolution in Cairo, Egypt, impacts life in Cairo, Illinois. What a tense diplomatic encounter in St. Petersburg, Russia, means for families in St. Petersburg, Florida.”

5. Mentioned: A tantalizing hint

For anyone hoping and dreaming that Clinton will run for president in 2016, she gives yet another vague hint that she’s leaning that way. She signs off the letter: “One thing that has never been a hard choice for me is serving our country. It has been the greatest honor of my life.” So, perhaps the choice to serve again isn’t so agonizing after all?

TIME 2016 Election

These Were Hillary Clinton’s Options For a Different Book Title

35th Annual Simmons Leadership Conference
Hillary Clinton delivers the Keynote Address at the 35th Annual Simmons Leadership Conference Paul Marotta—Getty Images

Hillary Clinton gave her first at-home interview since leaving her government post in 2013 to PEOPLE

PEOPLE magazine scored Hillary Clinton’s first at-home interview since she left government last year, and the potential presidential candidate offered a preview of her new book Hard Choices on Tuesday.

“I considered a number of titles,” the former secretary of state writes in a newly-released excerpt. “Helpfully, The Washington Post asked its readers to send in suggestions. One proposed It Takes a World, a fitting sequel to [my previous book,] It Takes a Village. My favorite was The Scrunchie Chronicles: 112 Countries and It’s Still All about My Hair.”

PEOPLE’s interview with Clinton hits newsstands June 6.

Read more at PEOPLE.

 

TIME 2016 Election

Risks Outweigh Rewards for Democrats in Joining Benghazi Commission

How a tragedy became political spectator sport

By agreeing to join the House GOP’s Benghazi investigation after contemplating a boycott, Democrats are taking a serious risk. The benefit is that Democrats will have a (limited) say over the investigation and an opportunity to defend Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and others during the committee’s hearings. The risk — and it’s a major one — is that Republicans can now tout the “bipartisan” nature of the inquiry and any of its findings. For low-information voters who don’t closely follow the ins and outs of Washington politics, “bipartisanship” is an easy, though often misleading, signifier of legitimacy. (Jonathan Chait is good on this point.)

And those low-information voters will be hearing a lot about this panel. Many people in Washington media consider Benghazi to be a phony scandal exploited by the GOP and are sick of covering it. But cover it they will. This afternoon CNN ran live with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s annoucement of five Democratic members to the panel. (Pelosi herself averred of the decision to participate, “I could have argued this either way.”)

That’s because what began as a genuine tragedy and then evolved politically into an effort to damage President Obama’s re-election campaign has now become almost entirely about the single most exciting topic in American politics: Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential ambitions. It doesn’t matter that few people really believe that some scandalous truth about the September 11, 2012 attack remains to be unearthed.

Benghazi has become less about what really happened that night than about something called “Benghazi,” which is not a place or an event but a process, a spectacle — the venue for political combat that pits Hillary Clinton and her defenders against the charge of the right’s brigade. CNN and every other network will cover this story exhaustively because people are fascinated by the public discourse around Hillary and how her political machine responds to it. Analysts will cover tone, temperament, tactics and “optics” on their own merits. (Yes, I will likely participate. Perhaps this very item you’re reading qualifies as well.) Nothing new will be learned about foreign policy or diplomatic security. Everything will happen on a meta level.

Meanwhile, the real place called Benghazi is in a state of chaos, with potential national security implications for the U.S. That’s a more relevant and important story — but not one you’re likely to hear about in the weeks to come.

TIME politics

How a Female Political Candidate’s Looks Affect Her Ability to Win

The legs of five women members of the U.S. House of Representatives are seen during the opening session of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2012.
The legs of five women members of the U.S. House of Representatives are seen during the opening session of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2012. Rick Wilking—Reuters

Overweight men get fewer votes than their slim counterparts. Overweight women don't both running at all.

We might have guessed this to be true, but now science proves it: overweight women are much less likely to hold political office than their overweight male counterparts or their skinny female counterparts.

New research published Monday in the journal Equality, Diversity and Inclusion found that skinny political candidates get more votes than overweight ones. The researchers looked at the sizes of candidates from 126 primary and general elections from 2008 and 2012 and compared it to the number of votes they received. “The greater size disparity between candidates, the greater the vote share of the more slender candidate,” Michigan State professor and co-author of the study said.

But while overweight men have a chance of winning an election, many overweight women don’t run at all:

Both obese men and women were less likely to get on the ballot in the first place. When it came to merely being overweight, women were underrepresented on the ballot, though men were not. This is consistent with previous research showing men who are slightly heavy tend not to experience discrimination like that of slightly overweight women.

The reason an overweight women are less likely to put their names on the ballot? Two studies published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science last week found that the more “feminine” a female candidate looked, the more likely she was to win an election. (This was especially true in conservative states.) The same was not true of men: more masculine-looking candidates did not have an advantage over less masculine ones.

The mounting evidence that women candidates are much more likely to be judged by their looks is certainly depressing, especially if it is deterring capable women from deciding to run.

 

 

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