Hillary's Letters

Mark Leibovich at the New York Times has come across a series of letters that Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote to a friend between 1965 and 1969.
Ms. Rodham’s 30 dispatches are by turns angst-ridden and prosaic, glib and brooding, anguished and ebullient — a rare unfiltered look into the head and heart of a future first lady and would-be president. Their private expressiveness stands in sharp contrast to the ever-disciplined political persona she presents to the public now.

“Since Xmas vacation, I’ve gone through three and a half metamorphoses and am beginning to feel as though there is a smorgasbord of personalities spread before me,” Ms. Rodham wrote to Mr. Peavoy in April 1967. “So far, I’ve used alienated academic, involved pseudo-hippie, educational and social reformer and one-half of withdrawn simplicity.”

Befitting college students of any era, the letters are also self-absorbed and revelatory, missives from an unformed and vulnerable striver who had, in her own words, “not yet reconciled myself to the fate of not being the star.”
I imagine that FOX News will dig through these with unrestrained glee and probably hire actors to read passages out loud while Iron Butterfly (In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida) plays in the background, looking for anything that they could use against her in her presidential campaign.
The letters contain no possibly damaging revelations of the proverbial “youthful indiscretions,” and mention nothing glaringly outlandish or irresponsible. Indeed, she tends toward the self-scolding: “I have been enjoying myself too much, and spring and letter-writing are — to the bourgeois mind — no excuses!”

She reports in one letter from October of her sophomore year that she spent a “miserable weekend” arguing with a friend who believed that “acid is the way and what did I have against expanding my conscience.”

In a previous letter from her freshman year, she divulges that a junior in her dorm had been caught at her boyfriend’s apartment in Cambridge at 3:15 a.m. “I don’t condone her actions,” Ms. Rodham declares, “but I’ll defend to expulsion her right to do as she pleases — an improvement on Voltaire.”

Ms. Rodham’s notes to Mr. Peavoy are revelatory, even intimate at times, but if there is any romantic energy between the friends, they are not evident in Ms. Rodham’s side of the conversation. “P.S. thanks for the Valentine’s card,” she says at the end of one letter. “Good night.”
The most damaging thing that could possibly come out of this is that Senator Clinton was -- gasp! -- a self-absorbed college student. Perhaps the most stunning revelation in these missives for her opponents is that she is human, with all the foibles, flaws, and shocks that we all have been through growing up. What a shock. I defy anyone who grew up at that time -- myself included -- to pull out the letters they wrote at the time and not either die of embarrassment or laugh their ass off.

I'm guessing this will cause some buzz and some deep psychological examination by some pay-per-view shrinks who will parse the daylights out of each letter. So I think that perhaps we should do a little digging and come up with some of the letters that some other people might have written back in those days. (We already know what George W. Bush wrote from Yale: "Hey Poppy send $.")

So how about it, Shakers? Any other newly-found correspondence from the rest of the field?

Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus