Book Review: Hero of the Empire

October 6, 2016

by Jennifer Senior

Candice Millard’s third book, “Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill,” would make a fine movie, though Richard Attenborough did, in a sense, get there first. In 1972, he made “Young Winston,” drawn from Churchill’s own account of his early life, and it includes the same material Ms. Millard recounts so thrillingly: the future prime minister’s brash heroics in the South African Republic in 1899, which culminated in a prison break and nine days on the lam.

“I’m free! I’m free! I’m Winston bloody Churchill, and I’m free!” he shouts in the film, just as he crosses the border to safety — a moment, we later realize, that could just as easily have referred to Churchill’s psychological relief as his physical freedom: He had finally shaken off the legacy of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, whose formidable early accomplishments and later humiliations stalked him like the moon.

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As her subtitle suggests, Ms. Millard similarly believes that the conflict in the Boer Republics profoundly influenced Churchill. But her book is much shorter on the anxiety of influence and far longer on the blustery impatience of youth. In Ms. Millard’s retelling, young Churchill was entitled, precocious, supernaturally confident — one of those fellows whose neon self-regard is downright unseemly until the very moment it is earned.

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“Churchill seemed far less Victorian than Rooseveltian,” she writes. (Well, his mother was American.) Or, as his first biographer wrote: “Winston advertises himself as simply and unconsciously as he breathes.”

On its face, Churchill’s role in the Second Boer War may not seem like a substantial enough subject for a book. Don’t be fooled. Over the years, Ms. Millard has made a stylish niche for herself, zooming in on a brief, pivotal chapter in the life of a historical figure and turning it into a legitimate feature-length production. In “The River of Doubt,” she focused on Theodore Roosevelt’s adventures in the Amazon basin to recover from his defeat in 1912. (These excursions seemed to be the political equivalent of rebound girlfriends for him.) In “Destiny of the Republic,” she focused on the assassination of James A. Garfield, particularly the doctors who serially bungled their attempts to save his life.

The story Ms. Millard tells here is no less cinematic or dramatic. Churchill covered the Second Boer War as a correspondent for The Morning Post, but he was hardly an ordinary reporter: He insisted on traveling with his valet; he took along roughly $4,000 of fine wines and spirits, including 18 bottles of St.-Émilion and another 18 of 10-year-old Scotch.

Most critically, though, he brought with him a great thirst for redemption. Churchill, 24, had just stood for Parliament and lost, having made the dire mistake of running “on the strength of his father’s name rather than his own.” Though he’d already fought in two wars — one in Sudan, the other on the northwest frontier of British India — and witnessed another as a reporter in Cuba, he “returned home every time without the medals that mattered, no more distinguished or famous than he had been when he set out.”

It was not for lack of trying. He charged the Pashtun while riding a bright gray pony. He stuck out like a bride.

Churchill hoped that the Second Boer War would finally do the trick. It did, and how. While on a scouting expedition on an armored train, he and scores of British soldiers were shelled by pom-poms, vicious weapons with a deceptively quaint nickname. His army instincts took over, and it was in large part because of his courageous efforts — and a dash of MacGyver ingenuity — that anyone on the train came back.

The bad news: Churchill was captured. The good news: Everyone in England knew about his bravery. The headlines were the stuff of his dreams. “MR. CHURCHILL’S HEROISM” screamed The Yorkshire Evening Post.

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This part of the book — where the train derails — is the only part where the narrative derails, too. (The logistics of this particular skirmish? A bit of a bore. Or rather, too minutely conveyed. They’re hard to follow.)

Soldier through. The rest of Ms. Millard’s book — about Churchill’s time as a prisoner of war, his audacious escape, the outcome of the conflict — are as involving as a popcorn thriller. Ms. Millard does an excellent job conveying the drama of confinement, both inside the prison and out. Being on the run meant hiding in many dark, dank, undignified spaces. It meant tolerating uncertainty, which Churchill hated. It meant being powerless, utterly dependent on the mercy of strangers, and he hated that, too. “It had been hard enough,” she writes, “to take orders from his superiors while he was in the army.”

Ms. Millard also shows, as she has in her previous work, that she has a great ear for quotes — an underrated virtue in writers of history. (Favorite example: The British Ambassador to Berlin wrote that Churchill’s mother had “more of the panther than of the woman in her look.”) Her eye for detail is equally good. With just a few key images, she conveys how the most formidable empire on the planet could be so discomfited by an unpolished, seemingly ragtag army of Boers: “At most, British soldiers spent two months of the year actually training to fight,” she writes. “The other 10 were devoted to parading, attending to their uniforms and waiting on their officers.”

It didn’t help matters that the British soldiers brought heaps of amenities into the field, which required many mules and oxen to lug. They were the hopeless dowager aunt who brings way too much luggage on holiday.

But the real example of profligacy in this story may be young Churchill’s ego. It’s not a surprise, exactly. What’s striking is the high volume of evidence Ms. Millard has compiled to show how unswervingly he believed in his own majestic destiny more than 40 years before he fulfilled it, and how early this belief began to appear, like the first visible outlines on a Polaroid.

“I do not believe the Gods would create so potent a being as myself for so prosaic an ending,” Churchill wrote to his mother from Bangalore, trying to reassure her he wouldn’t be killed in India.

The powerful really are different from you and me. They have more confidence. It requires outsize stamina and self-assurance to save a nation. “The first time you meet Winston you see all his faults,” his first love, Pamela Plowden, once said. “And the rest of your life you spend in discovering his virtues.”

Hero of the Empire

The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill

By Candice Millard

Illustrated. 381 pages. Doubleday. $30.

A version of this review appears in print on September 22, 2016, on page C6 of the New York edition with the headline: That War Where Churchill First Earned His Spurs. Today’s Paper|Subscribe

Herr Adolf Hitler: From “Dunderhead”to Demagogue

October 1, 2016

NY Times Book Review


How did Adolf Hitler — described by one eminent magazine editor in 1930 as a “half-insane rascal,” a “pathetic dunderhead,” a “nowhere fool,” a “big mouth” — rise to power in the land of Goethe and Beethoven? What persuaded millions of ordinary Germans to embrace him and his doctrine of hatred? How did this “most unlikely pretender to high state office” achieve absolute power in a once democratic country and set it on a course of monstrous horror?

A host of earlier biographers (most notably Alan Bullock, Joachim Fest and Ian Kershaw) have advanced theories about Hitler’s rise, and the dynamic between the man and his times. Some have focused on the social and political conditions in post-World War I Germany, which Hitler expertly exploited — bitterness over the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles and a yearning for a return to German greatness; unemployment and economic distress amid the worldwide Depression of the early 1930s; and longstanding ethnic prejudices and fears of “foreignization.”

Hitler, far right, with fellow soldiers from his Bavarian unit in 1916.

Hitler, far right, with fellow soldiers from his Bavarian unit in 1916. Photograph: Universal History Archive/Getty Images

Other writers — including the dictator’s latest biographer, the historian Volker Ullrich — have focused on Hitler as a politician who rose to power through demagoguery, showmanship and nativist appeals to the masses. In “Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939,” Mr. Ullrich sets out to strip away the mythology that Hitler created around himself in “Mein Kampf,” and he also tries to look at this “mysterious, calamitous figure” not as a monster or madman, but as a human being with “undeniable talents and obviously deep-seated psychological complexes.”

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“In a sense,” he says in an introduction, “Hitler will be ‘normalized’ — although this will not make him seem more ‘normal.’ If anything, he will emerge as even more horrific.”

This is the first of two volumes (it ends in 1939 with the dictator’s 50th birthday) and there is little here that is substantially new. However, Mr. Ullrich offers a fascinating Shakespearean parable about how the confluence of circumstance, chance, a ruthless individual and the willful blindness of others can transform a country — and, in Hitler’s case, lead to an unimaginable nightmare for the world.

Mr. Ullrich, like other biographers, provides vivid insight into some factors that helped turn a “Munich rabble-rouser” — regarded by many as a self-obsessed “clown” with a strangely “scattershot, impulsive style” — into “the lord and master of the German Reich.”

• Hitler was often described as an egomaniac who “only loved himself” — a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization and what Mr. Ullrich calls a “characteristic fondness for superlatives.” His manic speeches and penchant for taking all-or-nothing risks raised questions about his capacity for self-control, even his sanity. But Mr. Ullrich underscores Hitler’s shrewdness as a politician — with a “keen eye for the strengths and weaknesses of other people” and an ability to “instantaneously analyze and exploit situations.”

• Hitler was known, among colleagues, for a “bottomless mendacity” that would later be magnified by a slick propaganda machine that used the latest technology (radio, gramophone records, film) to spread his message. A former finance minister wrote that Hitler “was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth” and editors of one edition of “Mein Kampf” described it as a “swamp of lies, distortions, innuendoes, half-truths and real facts.”

• Hitler was an effective orator and actor, Mr. Ullrich reminds readers, adept at assuming various masks and feeding off the energy of his audiences. Although he concealed his anti-Semitism beneath a “mask of moderation” when trying to win the support of the socially liberal middle classes, he specialized in big, theatrical rallies staged with spectacular elements borrowed from the circus. Here, “Hitler adapted the content of his speeches to suit the tastes of his lower-middle-class, nationalist-conservative, ethnic-chauvinist and anti-Semitic listeners,” Mr. Ullrich writes. He peppered his speeches with coarse phrases and put-downs of hecklers. Even as he fomented chaos by playing to crowds’ fears and resentments, he offered himself as the visionary leader who could restore law and order.

• Hitler increasingly presented himself in messianic terms, promising “to lead Germany to a new era of national greatness,” though he was typically vague about his actual plans. He often harked back to a golden age for the country, Mr. Ullrich says, the better “to paint the present day in hues that were all the darker. Everywhere you looked now, there was only decline and decay.”

• Hitler’s repertoire of topics, Mr. Ullrich notes, was limited, and reading his speeches in retrospect, “it seems amazing that he attracted larger and larger audiences” with “repeated mantralike phrases” consisting largely of “accusations, vows of revenge and promises for the future.” But Hitler virtually wrote the modern playbook on demagoguery, arguing in “Mein Kampf” that propaganda must appeal to the emotions — not the reasoning powers — of the crowd. Its “purely intellectual level,” Hitler said, “will have to be that of the lowest mental common denominator among the public it is desired to reach.” Because the understanding of the masses “is feeble,” he went on, effective propaganda needed to be boiled down to a few slogans that should be “persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.”

• Hitler’s rise was not inevitable, in Mr. Ullrich’s opinion. There were numerous points at which his ascent might have been derailed, he contends; even as late as January 1933, “it would have been eminently possible to prevent his nomination as Reich chancellor.” He benefited from a “constellation of crises that he was able to exploit cleverly and unscrupulously” — in addition to economic woes and unemployment, there was an “erosion of the political center” and a growing resentment of the elites. The unwillingness of Germany’s political parties to compromise had contributed to a perception of government dysfunction, Mr. Ullrich suggests, and the belief of Hitler supporters that the country needed “a man of iron” who could shake things up. “Why not give the National Socialists a chance?” a prominent banker said of the Nazis. “They seem pretty gutsy to me.”

• Hitler’s ascension was aided and abetted by the naïveté of domestic adversaries who failed to appreciate his ruthlessness and tenacity, and by foreign statesmen who believed they could control his aggression. Early on, revulsion at Hitler’s style and appearance, Mr. Ullrich writes, led some critics to underestimate the man and his popularity, while others dismissed him as a celebrity, a repellent but fascinating “evening’s entertainment.” Politicians, for their part, suffered from the delusion that the dominance of traditional conservatives in the cabinet would neutralize the threat of Nazi abuse of power and “fence Hitler in.” “As far as Hitler’s long-term wishes were concerned,” Mr. Ullrich observes, “his conservative coalition partners believed either that he was not serious or that they could exert a moderating influence on him. In any case, they were severely mistaken.”

• Hitler, it became obvious, could not be tamed — he needed only five months to consolidate absolute power after becoming chancellor. “Non-National Socialist German states” were brought into line, Mr. Ullrich writes, “with pressure from the party grassroots combining effectively with pseudo-legal measures ordered by the Reich government.” Many Germans jumped on the Nazi bandwagon not out of political conviction but in hopes of improving their career opportunities, he argues, while fear kept others from speaking out against the persecution of the Jews. The independent press was banned or suppressed and books deemed “un-German” were burned. By March 1933, Hitler had made it clear, Mr. Ullrich says, “that his government was going to do away with all norms of separation of powers and the rule of law.”

• Hitler had a dark, Darwinian view of the world. And he would not only become, in Mr. Ullrich’s words, “a mouthpiece of the cultural pessimism” growing in right-wing circles in the Weimar Republic, but also the avatar of what Thomas Mann identified as a turning away from reason and the fundamental principles of a civil society — namely, “liberty, equality, education, optimism and belief in progress.”

A version of this review appears in print on September 28, 2016, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: From ‘Dunderhead’ to Demagogue. Today’s Paper

Henry Kissinger by Naill Ferguson

September 30, 2016

Naill Ferguson’s Kissinger: Setting the Record Neat

by Andrew Roberts

It is very rare for an official biography to be also a revisionist biography, but this one is. Usually it’s the official life that the revisionists attempt to dissect and ­refute, but such is the historical reputation of Henry Kissinger, and the avalanche of books and treatises already written about him, that Niall Ferguson’s official biography is in part an effort to revise the revisionists. Though not without trenchant criticisms, “Kissinger. Volume I. 1923-1968: The Ideal­ist” — which takes its subject up to the age of 45, about to begin his first stint of full-time government service — constitutes the most comprehensive defense of Kissinger’s outlooks and actions since his own three-volume, 3,900-page autobiography, published between 1979 and 1999.

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Unlike the revisionists, Ferguson has had access to every part of Kissinger’s vast archive at the Library of Congress, which weighs several tons and comprises 8,380 documents covering 37,645 pages on the digitized database alone. These include a heartfelt essay on “The Eternal Jew” written by the 22-year-old German-born Sergeant Kissinger after witnessing the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp; some loving but uncompromising letters to his parents about his separation from their Orthodox faith; a jejune and somewhat cringe-making teenage note to a would-be girlfriend; and the minutes he took as secretary of a Jewish youth organization to which he belonged as the Nazis were seizing power in his homeland. Although this book is long at 986 pages, and Kissinger has only just joined the Nixon administration as national security adviser when it ends, the sheer quality of the material unearthed justifies the length and detail.

Ferguson gives the full story of the Kissinger family’s experience under the Third Reich before they emigrated in 1938, and Ferguson has identified at least 23 close family members who perished in the Holocaust. (Of the 1,990 Jews who lived in their hometown, Fürth, in 1933, fewer than 40 were left by the end of the war.) The first chapters covering the Kissingers’ life in the late 1930s and early 1940s in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York recapture the Jewish immigrant experience superbly and put into perspective the fact that Henry (born Heinz) became the first foreign-born United States citizen to serve as Secretary of State.

Whereas Kissinger has regularly underplayed his bravery during World War II, Ferguson shows that he saw action during the Battle of the Bulge, where he came under severe shelling. “His very presence” in the Meuse town of Marche “was hazardous in the extreme,” Ferguson writes, as German 88s, mortar shells and a V-1 rocket pulverized “the narrow streets of the town center where the divisional HQ was based.” After V-E Day, Kissinger became an extremely effective Nazi hunter with the Counter-­Intelligence Corps.

The subtitle of the book will surprise many for whom Kissinger’s name is almost synonymous with modern realpolitik and who are familiar with the revisionist accounts that equate him with Machiavelli, Bismarck and other such thinkers and statesmen normally thought far from idealists. Yet Ferguson’s investigation of Kissinger’s intellectual roots, especially through the influence of his Army mentor Fritz Kraemer and his Harvard supervisor William Yandell Elliott, shows Kissinger was indeed an idealist in the Kantian sense, rather than in its modern American political version. Kissinger’s unpublished senior thesis, “The Meaning of History,” was an investigation into Immanuel Kant’s philosophy of history, especially in contrast to the views of Arnold Toynbee and Oswald Spengler, although Ferguson slightly dismisses it as “an exercise in academic exhibitionism.”

In his thesis, Kissinger argued that “freedom is . . . an inner experience of life as a process of deciding meaningful alternatives” and that “whatever one’s conception about the necessity of events, at the moment of their performance their inevitability could offer no guide to action.” He also said, “However we may explain actions in retrospect, their accomplishment occurred with the inner conviction of choice.” The importance of choice led Kissinger to a belief in democracy. “Kissinger was never a Machiavellian,” Ferguson argues, but neither was he an idealist of the Woodrow Wilson variety. “It was an inherently moral act,” Ferguson says of Kissinger’s outlook, “to make a choice between lesser and greater evils.”

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Henry Kissinger and his Biographer, Naill Ferguson

What brought Kissinger to huge public prominence while still only an assistant professor was his radical prescription for how to deal with the perceived (though in fact chimerical) relative weakness of the United States vis-à-vis the Soviet Union at the time of the successful launch of the Sputnik space satellite in October 1957. As Ferguson puts it, “Sputnik launched Kissinger into a new orbit.” Kissinger had only months earlier published his widely reviewed and highly controversial best seller “Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy,” which argued that the threat of a limited nuclear war was a more effective deterrent to Soviet incursions in the third world than the Eisenhower administration’s strategy of mutually assured destruction. And as Kissinger wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine, “The best opportunity to compensate for our inferiority in manpower” is “to use our superiority in technology to best advantage” (although he did rule out using any bomb of more than 500 kilotons in a tactical situation). For Ferguson, Kissinger’s argument “fails to convince,” but it won Kissinger interviews on “Face the Nation” and with The New York Herald Tribune that — once his accent and acerbic wit came to be appreciated by the American public — put him on the trajectory to intellectual rock star status that he never lost.

Partly because he described himself as an independent, Kissinger could be called upon by both political parties for advice. After failing to make an impact as a consultant to the Kennedy administration — he didn’t like the men or the methods, and they didn’t see him fitting the Camelot image — he went to work for Gov. Nelson Rockefeller of New York. Ferguson is clearly fascinated by what he calls the “turbulent friendship” between the aristocrat and the immigrant, and is at pains to point out that “Henry Kissinger has often been portrayed as very ruthless and calculating in his pursuit of power. But in committing himself again and again to Rockefeller, he failed to see that he was backing a man who would never be president.” Kissinger’s loyalty was based on affection and genuine admiration, rather than mere miscalculation.

Ferguson’s access to the diaries Kissinger kept before, during and after his visits to Vietnam in 1965 and 1966 allows him to argue, totally convincingly, that on his missions for the Johnson administration, Kissinger realized very early on that the United States had little or no hope of winning the war and therefore needed to enter into direct negotiations with Hanoi sooner rather than later, albeit from a position of strength. This book contains the first full account of the abortive initiative to start talks with Hanoi in 1967; as Ferguson puts it, “to an extent never previously recognized by scholars,” Kissinger attempted “to broker some kind of peace agreement with the North Vietnamese, using a variety of indirect channels of communication to Hanoi that passed through not only Paris but also Moscow.”

Yet it is in Ferguson’s comprehensive demolition of the revisionist accounts of the 1968 election by Seymour Hersh, Christopher Hitchens and others that this book will be seen as controversial. For he totally rejects the conspiracy theory that blames Kissinger for leaking details of the Paris peace negotiations to the Nixon camp, details that enabled Nixon, it was said, to persuade the South Vietnamese that they would get better treatment if he and not Hubert Humphrey were in the White House. Ferguson goes into this theory in great detail, disproving it on several grounds, but especially for its lack of even the most basic actual or circumstantial evidence. (It turns out that one of the reasons Kissinger was in Paris in 1967 was that he was secretly going to the Sorbonne to woo the only great love of his life, Nancy Maginnes, whom he subsequently married.)

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Of course it will be in the second volume that Ferguson will come to grips with the revisionists’ attacks on Kissinger’s actions involving places like Chile, Argentina, Cyprus, East Timor (and Cambodia too) and Bangladesh. The book’s introduction strongly implies that he will be acquitting Kissinger of the monstrous charge of war criminality that the revisionists have made over the years.

Yet this is no hagiography. As well as being highly critical of Kissinger’s theory of limited nuclear war, Ferguson describes a letter of his as a “solipsistic screed”; says of one of Kissinger’s books that it “remained, at root, the work of a committee”; and states that Kissinger was “even more demanding to his own subordinates” than Rockefeller was to him: “He learned to rant and rage.” The criticisms — and there are many more waspish ones — absolve Ferguson from the charge of whitewashing Kissinger and make his praise all the more credible.

This is an admiring portrait rather than a particularly affectionate one. Ferguson acknowledges in his preface all of the “conversing with him, supping with him, even traveling with him” that he did over the many years he spent researching and writing this book. But if Kissinger’s official biographer cannot be accused of falling for his subject’s justifiably famed charm, he certainly gives the reader enough evidence to conclude that Henry Kissinger is one of the greatest Americans in the history of the Republic, someone who has been repulsively traduced over several decades and who deserved to have a defense of this comprehensiveness published years ago.

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Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger

Part of Kissinger’s charm of course derives from his highly developed sense of humor, which is given full rein here. “Nobody will ever win the battle of the ­sexes,” he once joked. “There’s just too much fraternizing with the enemy.” When someone came up to him at a reception and said, “Dr. Kissinger, I want to thank you for saving the world,” he replied, “You’re welcome.” All of this was delivered in the trademark voice that the journalist Oriana Fallaci described as like “that obsessive, hammering sound of rain falling on a roof.”

Niall Ferguson already has many important, scholarly and controversial books to his credit. But if the second volume of “Kissinger” is anywhere near as comprehensive, well written and riveting as the first, this will be his masterpiece.


Editors’ Note: October 2, 2015

After this review of the first volume of Niall Ferguson’s authorized biography of Henry Kissinger was published, editors learned that the reviewer, Andrew Roberts, had initially been approached by a publisher to write the biography himself; he says he turned the offer down for personal reasons, and Ferguson was eventually enlisted to undertake the task. In addition, Roberts and Ferguson were credited as co-authors of a chapter contributed to a book edited by Ferguson and first published in 1997 (Roberts describes their relationship as professional and friendly, but not close). Had editors been aware of these connections, they would have been disclosed in the review.

Andrew Roberts is the Lehrman ­Institute ­Distinguished Fellow at the New-York ­Historical Society.

A version of this review appears in print on October 4, 2015, on page BR12 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: Kissinger the Idealist. Today’s Paper.

Keynes: The Return of the Master by Robert Skidelsky

August 22, 2016

Keynes: The Return of the Master by Robert Skidelsky

by Economics Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman :The Finest of his Generation

The great economist’s theories have never been more relevant – and his biographer remains their most compelling advocate, says Paul Krugman

At research seminars, people don’t take Keynesian theorising seriously anymore; the audience starts to whisper and giggle to one another.” So declared Robert Lucas of the University of Chicago, writing in 1980. At the time, Lucas was arguably the world’s most influential macro-economist; the influence of John Maynard Keynes, the British economist whose theory of recessions dominated economic policy for a generation after the Second World War, seemed to be virtually at an end.

But Keynes, it turns out, is having the last giggle. Lucas’s “rational expectations” theory of booms and slumps has shown itself to be completely useless in the current world crisis. Not only does it offer no guide for action, but it more or less asserts that market economies cannot possibly experience the kind of problems they are, in fact, experiencing. Keynesian economics, on the other hand, which was created precisely to make sense of times like these, looks better than ever.

On Citizen (Timothy) Kaine

July 24, 2016

On Citizen Kaine


Citizen Kaine –Devoted Family Man

Democrat Tim Kaine served as Governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010, and is currently a member of the U.S. Senate. In 2016, Hillary Clinton chose him as her vice presidential running mate.

“Failing at something you care about is painful but ultimately less destructive to one’s sense of self than not trying.”
—Tim Kaine


Born in Minnesota in 1958, Tim Kaine began practicing law in Richmond, Virginia, after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1983. He was voted to the Richmond City Council in 1994, marking the start of a political ascent that eventually led to his election as Virginia governor in 2005. Following a stint as chairman of the Democratic National Party, Kaine was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012. In 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton chose Kaine as her vice presidential running mate.

Formative Years

Politician, lawyer, Virginia governor and senator, Timothy Michael Kaine was born on February 26, 1958, in St. Paul, Minnesota, but grew up in the area of Kansas City, Missouri. The eldest son of an ironworker and a home economics teacher, Kaine has noted he wasn’t raised in an overtly political household, but became drawn to matters of public interest during the political and social upheaval of the 1960s.

Kaine attended Rockhurst High School, an all-boys Jesuit high school, where he joined spring mission drives to fund Jesuit activities in Honduras and became student government president. He went on to the University of Missouri, completing his bachelor’s degree in economics in three years, before entering Harvard Law School.

Kaine took a year off from law school to volunteer with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras, where he ran a small vocational school for teenage boys while honing his Spanish. It was an eye-opening experience for the Midwesterner, who witnessed the devastating effects of poverty up close, and ignited his longstanding commitment to social justice.

Legal Career

After earning his J.D. from Harvard in 1983, Tim Kaine moved to Richmond, Virginia, to put his law degree to use. He made a name for himself early in his career by taking on the appeal of a death row inmate named Richard Lee Whitley. Although Whitley had confessed to sexually assaulting and murdering a 63-year-old neighbor, Kaine was deeply opposed to the death penalty, and his investigation into Whitley’s troubled background had spurred him to fight for the inmate.

Over the course of 17 years as a practicing lawyer, Kaine specialized in representing people who had been denied housing opportunities because of their race or disability. Devoting much of his time to pro-bono work, he helped found the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness and was a board member of the Virginia chapter of Housing Opportunities Made Equal. Additionally, he taught legal ethics at the University of Richmond Law School for six years.

Political Rise

Tim Kaine entered politics in 1994 when he was elected to the Richmond City Council. He served six years, including the last two as mayor when he helped to create and implement the law known as Project Exile to reduce gun-related violence. He was then elected Virginia’s Lieutenant governor in 2001, a role in which he served as president of the Virginia Senate.

When Kaine ran for governor in 2005 against Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, he introduced himself as a leader guided by his family and Catholic faith. He also urged his fellow religious Democrats to talk about their faith in campaigns, saying “Voters want to understand what motivates you.” When Republicans attacked Kaine’s opposition to the death penalty, he responded with a TV ad in which he explained that his religious beliefs led him to oppose capital punishment, but that he would enforce the state’s laws. Similarly, although he was personally opposed to abortion, he felt obligated to uphold its legality.

Virginia Governor and DNC Chairman

Tim Kaine was inaugurated in Virginia’s colonial capitol of Williamsburg as the state’s 70th governor on January 14, 2006. His star on the rise, he was selected to give the Democratic response to President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address shortly afterward.

Battling partisan gridlock during his term, Kaine cut social welfare programs to balance the budget and invested in infrastructure development, but otherwise struggled to push through major legislation. His national profile continued to rise, however, as he was the first governor outside Illinois to endorse Barack Obama for president. He was widely considered a strong candidate to be picked as the Democratic presidential nominee’s running mate, before eventually losing out to Delaware Senator Joe Biden.

Kaine became chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2009, and held on to the position despite his party’s significant losses in the 2010 midterm elections. He stepped down in 2011 with the intention of campaigning for Jim Webb’s soon-to-be-vacated Virginia senate seat.

U.S. Senator

After defeating former Virginia Senator and Governor George Allen in the 2012 campaign, Tim Kaine became the first senator to deliver a speech in Spanish from the Senate floor.

Since being elected to his post, Kaine has joined the Senate’s Armed Services, Budget, Foreign Relations and Aging Committees. Among his accomplishments, he introduced the Troop Talent Act of 2013 to help servicemen and women transition to the civilian workplace, and coauthored the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. Additionally, he is a founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, and has introduced legislation to address issues of sexual assault and drug treatment.

On July 22, 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced via text message to her supporters that she had selected Kaine as her vice presidential running mate. She also tweeted the announcement.


Kaine met his wife, Anne Holton, at Harvard Law School. Named Virginia’s secretary of education in January 2014, Anne is the daughter of former Republican Virginia Governor Linwood Holton (1970-74), who desegregated the Commonwealth’s public schools.

The Kaines, who married on November 24, 1984, are actively involved with Richmond’s St. Elizabeth Catholic Church. They have three children: Nat, Woody and Annella.

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Destiny for Hillary Clinton

July 24, 2016

From Successor to Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D) to Next US President–Destiny for  Hillary Clinton.

On February 22, 1999, the country’s attention was riveted on the U.S. Capitol. For only the second time in U.S. history, the Senate was set to vote on whether to remove an impeached President from office.

With her husband, President Bill Clinton, daughter, Chelsea, and mother, Dorothy Rodham, by her side, Hillary Clinton announces her candidacy for the Senate seat from New York held by the retiring Daniel Patrick Moynihan, center, on Feb. 6, 2000, at the State University of New York in Purchase. (Reuters)

But in the private residence on the second floor of the White House, the topic at hand was someone else’s political career. First lady Hillary Clinton had summoned longtime adviser Harold Ickes to discuss a delicate question: What would it take to become a senator herself — specifically, to win an open seat in New York, a state in which she had never lived?

As the morning dragged into an unseasonably warm afternoon, Ickes gave her a crash course on the Empire State: its Democratic Party structure and rules, a list of 100 key leaders she would have to get to know, the different electoral rhythms of upstate and downstate, its minefield of multi-ethnic politics.

Over lunch, Bill Clinton dropped by to hear how things were going, and to download what he knew of New York politics. “He literally remembered how many votes he had gotten in Herkimer County,” Ickes marvels.

On the momentous day on which the 42nd President of the United States would be acquitted by the Senate, Bill Clinton later told an aide, “If anyone had seen us, they would have seen us laughing, but not about what they would think.” When Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) called Hillary Clinton later to tell her the good news, she and Ickes allowed themselves only a brief moment of celebration before getting back to the business of her future.

 By that summer, the first lady was traveling New York on a “listening tour.” The following February, she formally announced her bid to replace the retiring Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D).

“Politics is the art of making possible what seems to be impossible.”-Hillary Clinton

“Politics is the art of making possible what seems to be impossible,” she told a cheering crowd of more than 2,000. That also could be said of Clinton’s evolution into a politician in her own right, one who stands a single election away from becoming the nation’s first female President.

In some ways, this historic juncture can seem as though it was inevitable, a part of the destiny that she began to write with the electrifying, subversive speech she delivered upon her graduation from Wellesley College in 1969. It landed her in Life magazine, as a voice of her generation.

“We’re searching for more immediate, ecstatic and penetrating modes of living,” “And so our questions, our questions about our institutions, about our colleges, about our churches, about our government continue,”she declared.

Civil rights leader Vernon Jordan had met her that year at a League of Women Voters conference in Fort Collins, Colo. “It was clear to me when I met her in June 1969 that she had a future,” he says. “I saw her as a young lady who was going somewhere.”

Somewhere turned out to be Arkansas. Starting with her decision to follow her boyfriend Bill Clinton and his ambitions to Fayetteville, the next quarter-century of her life would be a push and pull between her desire to forge her own identity and put her stamp on the causes she cared about, and the tight and traditional confines of being a political spouse.

More than once, she would learn the hard way that stepping beyond those bounds carried a cost — both for herself and for her husband.And more than once, her performance in a supporting role would be crucial to his survival.

She also would become a Rorschach Test of how the country felt about the changing expectations of women, at home and at work. Was Hillary Clinton at the vanguard of the feminist movement, or had she betrayed it by marrying power, rather than earning it?

The Clintons presented themselves to the country in 1992 as a new kind of partnership in politics. His charisma paired with her discipline; his gut with her spine.

During his first presidential campaign, there was speculation about a possible Cabinet post for her. Instead, he put her in charge of a health-care overhaul, his boldest policy initiative. They quickly learned that the country did not want what they had called a “buy one, get one free” bargain.

Hillary Clinton is pictured with her husband, Bill Clinton, in the late 1990s. (Mary Lou Foy/The Washington Post)

There was also a Lady Macbeth storyline to her controversy-filled White House years. She found herself at the center of a host of scandals and pseudo-scandals, from the intrigue around the Clintons’ failed Whitewater real estate deal to the mysterious disappearance and reappearance of her law firm records to her suspiciously lucrative trades in cattle futures.

In 1996, because of Whitewater, Hillary Clinton earned the dubious distinction of being the only first lady in history ever compelled to testify before a federal grand jury.

Not until Bill Clinton’s political career was ending had she been free to consider doing something that no first lady had ever done: put her name on a ballot for federal office.

As it happened, her popularity in late 1998 and early 1999 was as high as it had ever been. The adulation, however, had not come for any achievement of her own — save the one of having endured the public humiliation of her husband’s affair with a White House intern.

Top Democrats had begun urging her to run almost from the moment that Moynihan announced he was retiring. They would clear the field for her, leveraging her fame as their best hope of hanging on to a seat they had held for more than two decades. But it was expected to be an uphill race against the likely Republican nominee, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

“In a sense, I was a desperation choice — a well-known public figure who might be able to offset Giuliani’s national profile and his party’s deep pockets,” Clinton wrote in her memoir “Living History.”

This was not a popular decision in the tight-knit East Wing circle known as Hillaryland. Clinton talked it over with her close friend and adviser Maggie Williams during a long walk in the spring of 1999.“I think it’s kooky,” Williams told her. “And anyone who cares about you will tell you the same thing.”

Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton’s scheduler who would later manage her 2008 presidential campaign, flatly predicted that she would lose. That possibility also worried her longtime friend Vernon Jordan, who suggested that she consider making a bid for governor of Illinois instead. She had grown up there, and would not be considered a presumptuous carpetbagger, he argued — leaving unsaid his belief that a statehouse would be a better springboard to something bigger someday.

“I told her I didn’t think it was a good idea,” Jordan recalls.But Clinton wouldn’t budge. “I’m going to run,” she told him.

This was not the first time Hillary Clinton had considered elective office. In 1990, the Clintons were agonizing over whether Bill should run for a fifth term as governor of Arkansas, even though he was all but certain that he would be making a bid for the presidency two years later.

As a governor, he would be making unpopular decisions, perhaps such as raising taxes, in the middle of a presidential campaign. But if he gave up that job and lost the White House — a likely possibility — he might be washed up in politics.

Maybe there was a way to get the best of both alternatives. The Clintons asked Dick Morris, their pollster at the time, to find out what people in Arkansas would think of Hillary running for governor. If she won and Bill lost in his White House bid, he would still have his power base in his home state.

So the pollster did a survey, and “I came to the conclusion — it seems hard to believe now — that people didn’t see Hillary as a separate person, just as a part of Bill,” Morris says.

Morris put it to the couple bluntly: Hillary running for governor would be viewed as “the Lurleen Wallace effect.”

That stung. In 1966, George Wallace’s wife had been the first woman elected governor in the Deep South. But she was a little-educated homebody, branded a “placeholder” for her husband, because Alabama law prevented him from running for reelection as governor while in office.

The Clintons “almost jammed the poll down my throat. They were screaming at me, going crazy. Bill especially. He was red-faced,” Morris recalls.

Bill Clinton demanded that Morris take a new survey — this time, reminding people of Hillary’s accomplishments as a lawyer, her commitment to children’s causes and the work she had done leading a state education reform initiative in the early 1980s.

The results came back the same.

“I’ve always believed that was the moment when she realized that she had to have her own achievements,” Morris says.

That Hillary Clinton would have to struggle to define her identity is something that would not have been predicted for the earnest high achiever from the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge. But things changed when Hillary Rodham fell in love with a husky, bushy-haired young man she met in the student lounge at Yale Law School in the autumn of 1970.

“He was tall and handsome somewhere beneath that reddish brown beard and curly mane of hair. He also had a vitality that seemed to shoot out of his pores,” she later wrote. Her decision, four years later, to move to Arkansas had astounded her friends.

“Are you out of your mind?” one of them, Sara Ehrman, asked her. “Why on Earth would you throw away your future?”

Still, Ehrman agreed to drive her down to Fayetteville from Washington, where Rodham had been working on the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry of President Richard M. Nixon.

“Every few miles, she asked me if I knew what I was doing, and I gave her the same answer every time: ‘No, but I’m going anyway,’ ” Clinton wrote. Bill Clinton was already teaching at the University of Arkansas Law School and she had an offer to do the same.

“I just cried when I left her there,” Ehrman recalled in an interview 34 years after she dropped off her friend at the couple’s rented split-level. “I thought: She’s going to the end of the world. I told her, ‘You can’t even get Brie!’ ”

Bill and Hillary Clinton campaign during his run for governor of Arkansas in 1978. (The Washington Post)

Hillary probably thought the move was only temporary; Bill, 28, was already running for Congress from Arkansas’s Third District. He lost. In 1976, a year after their wedding, he was elected the state’s attorney general, and became governor two years after that.

She began building a career of her own, making partner at Little Rock’s venerable Rose Law Firm in 1979, at age 32. She was also the young family’s primary breadwinner, given that the governor’s salary was only $35,000 a year. In the election of 1980, Bill Clinton suddenly went from being the youngest governor in the United States to the youngest former governor. After that reelection loss, he “seemed sometimes to be overtaken by self-pity,” his biographer David Maraniss wrote.

Hillary Clinton sprang into action. One of her first acts in plotting the comeback was to recruit Morris, an abrasive, bare-knuckled New York political consultant whom many in the Clintons’ orbit viewed with suspicion, in part because he worked for clients of both parties.

Morris does not think she did so with any interest in a political future for herself. “No, none at all,” he says. “Quite the opposite. I got the impression that it was an imposition — that she had a nice legal career, and now she had to bail him out.”

Part of the strategy was to retool her own image. In Arkansas, “I was an oddity because of my dress, my Northern ways and the use of my maiden name,” she wrote.

After Bill Clinton’s reelection defeat, “for the first time, I came to realize how my personal choices could impact my husband’s political future,” she recalled.

He made the official announcement that he was running for his old job on their daughter Chelsea’s second birthday, February 27, 1982. And on that day, Hillary Rodham began referring to herself as Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea, wave to supporters at the Old State House in Little Rock on Nov. 3, 1992, the day Bill Clinton was elected president. (Luke Frazza/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

Yet Hillary Clinton did not fit anyone’s stereotype of a political spouse — as quickly became apparent when Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992.

“If I get elected President, it will be an unprecedented partnership, far more than Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor,” he told Vanity Fair. “They were two great people, but on different tracks. If I get elected, we’ll do things together like we always have.”

Former president Nixon, whose wife had been the embodiment of mid-century meekness, offered a different perspective in February of that year: “If the wife comes through as being too strong and too intelligent, it makes the husband look like a wimp.”

Hillary Clinton was a conundrum for her husband’s handlers. “They didn’t get her. The people who were organizing the campaign were a bunch of Washington types, and they didn’t quite get her,” her adviser Susan Thomases said in an oral history of the Clinton Presidency collected by the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.

“They pigeonholed her,” Thomases added. “It was really complicated. Some of it was the campaign’s decisions, some of it was her performance and some of it was the public’s perception of her. She was so strong a personality that there were people who felt that when they were together, her strong personality made him seem weaker.”

Still, when allegations about Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs exploded, they needed Hillary Clinton to be by his side for a post-Super Bowl “60 Minutes” interview as the ultimate validator.

Interviewer Steve Kroft flatly asked them if theirs was an arrangement, not a marriage. “I’m not sitting here some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette,” she retorted.

The reaction to her response was brutal, as it was when she later seemed to disparage homemakers with: “I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies and had teas.”

What got lost in the furor was the rest of her comment. “The work that I have done as a professional, a public advocate, has been aimed . . . to assure that women can make the choices,” she said, “whether it’s full-time career, full-time motherhood or some combination.”

Once she arrived in the White House, her management of her husband’s health-care overhaul was a fiasco. The plan, hatched in secret by a 500-member task force whose identities she refused to reveal, never got a vote on the floor of either house of Congress. She became the most polarizing first lady in modern history, even burned in effigy by a group of tobacco farmers in Kentucky.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, shows first lady Hillary Clinton to her seat prior to her testifying before the panel on September. 29, 1993. (Ray Lustig/The Washington Post)

Her health-care stumble also was a major reason that Democrats lost control of Congress in the 1994 midterm election. Bill Clinton’s reelection prospects looked iffy.

Even before the midterms, Hillary Clinton was plotting her husband’s resurrection. In October, she once again turned to the controversial Dick Morris, whose tendency to see the underside of things she considered a counterbalance to her husband’s perpetual optimism.

She phoned Morris, she wrote in her memoir, and said, “If I can get Bill to call you, will you help?”

The Clintons agreed that Morris’s role would be secret — even from people in their own White House, where the consultant would leave phone messages under the code name “Charlie.” George Stephanopoulos, then a top White House adviser, later referred to Morris as “the dark buddha whose belly Clinton rubbed in desperate times.” (Morris has since become a vocal critic of the Clintons, and just co-wrote a book called “Armageddon: How Trump Can Beat Hillary.”)

Morris conducted a private poll. He found that one-third of the public viewed Bill Clinton as weak, and that his marriage was a major reason.

Nixon had been right. The more these voters saw of Hillary Clinton, the more diminished her husband seemed to be. That slice of the population “had no conception of a win-win marriage. They thought it was zero-sum,” Morris recalls.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton had been seared by the health-care experience. “Sometimes, I am saddened by her understandable loss of spontaneity,” Diane Blair, her close friend from Arkansas, told Ann Blackman of Time magazine.

“It was one of her most endearing qualities,” said Blair, who died in 2000. “But in public now, she filters out her first response, and sometimes her second one, and that contributes to the sense that she is aloof and haughty. She has learned to be careful about what she says.”

So it was in both their interests for Hillary Clinton to fade from view. Over the next few years, she rarely ventured into the West Wing; she stuck to safe issues, such as adoption and Gulf War syndrome; she wrote a bestselling book about raising children. Even her wardrobe underwent an overhaul under the guidance of Oscar de la Renta — from the power teals and reds she had favored to pastel suits, with pumps to match.

In the role her campaign now touts, the 1997 expansion of health-care coverage to uninsured children (CHIP), Hillary Clinton operated largely behind the scenes and on the edges, as Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) did the heavy lifting on Capitol Hill.

Vice President Al Gore shows his support for President Clinton, pictured with first lady Hillary Clinton, outside the Oval Office after the House voted to impeach the president on December. 19, 1998. (Doug Mills/Associated Press)

In 1998, Bill Clinton needed to be rescued yet again, after his affair with White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky became public and set him on the path to impeachment.

Just six days into the scandal, the first lady appeared on NBC’s “Today” show, and pointed blame at “this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.” Not until much later, friends said, did she face up to the depth of his betrayal.

In that year’s midterm elections, no Democrat running wanted to be seen with him, but she was in demand everywhere. And she went. During the last week before Election Day alone, she hit nine states — twice in Florida and New York.

“I think she began realizing her political strengths — chops, however you want to put it — in that 1998 election,” said her longtime adviser Ann F. Lewis.

Defying expectations, the Democrats picked up seats in the House, in large part because the Republicans had overplayed their hand on the Lewinsky scandal. And then, three days after the election, Moynihan announced he was retiring.

That night, the White House operator patched through a call from Charles B. Rangel (D), a longtime congressman from Harlem. “I sure hope you’ll consider running,” he told the First Lady, “because I think you could win.”

First Lady Hillary Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea — pictured with former New York mayor Ed Koch, center — wave to supporters on Nov. 7, 2000, in New York after Clinton’s victory over Republican Rep. Rick Lazio in the race for a Senate seat. (Matt Campbell/Agence France-Presse)

Several weeks into Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign, Ickes received a phone call from her.“Harold, I never knew how good Bill is,” he recalls her telling him. “This is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”

The race had gotten off to a rocky start, in part because of her natural reserve, particularly with New York’s famously aggressive news media. Her campaign team included people who had been hired for their expertise in that state’s politics, with whom she had not yet built up a reservoir of familiarity or trust.

Their internal focus groups and polling also showed that she had a big problem among women, who should have been her base. Some were mad at her for not leaving an unfaithful husband; other viewed her decision as proof that this had always been a marriage of calculated ambition, not a joining of two hearts.

So her advisers made her do the hardest thing imaginable: meet skeptical women face to face in living rooms in Westchester County, and Long Island, and upstate.

“They were free to ask whatever they wanted to ask,” says one former campaign adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity.No reporters were invited, but in those pre-social media days, it “went viral in their communities,” the strategist recalls.

Meanwhile, Giuliani withdrew from the race in the wake of revelations of his own marital infidelity and a diagnosis of prostate cancer. In his place, Republicans nominated Rick Lazio, a boyish four-term congressman from Long Island. Hillary Clinton won by 12 percentage points. She was reelected six years later by a staggering 36 points, carrying all but four of the state’s 62 counties.

By then, she already was laying plans for a 2008 presidential run, where she was heavily favored to win the Democratic nomination.

In a memo written shortly before the campaign began, Mark Penn, her chief strategist, identified former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as her political role model.

“We are more Thatcher than anyone else — top of the university, a high achiever throughout life, a lawyer who could absorb and analyze problems,” Penn advised in December 2006. “She represents the most successful elected woman leader in this century — and the adjectives that were used about her (Iron Lady) were not of good humor or warmth, they were of smart, tough leadership.”

Clinton’s campaign, however, was a disaster from the beginning.She was a cautious front-runner, exactly wrong for an electorate that was looking for someone fresh and exciting. She had voted in favor of the 2003 Iraq invasion, putting her on the opposite side of the Democratic base on the question that mattered most. Her campaign never mastered the rules of the various primary states, particularly underestimating those that held caucuses. And her fundraising operation was a relic of the 1990s.

On the other hand, Barack Obama, a freshman senator from Illinois, was perfectly suited for the moment, and had built a nimble, modern campaign machine.

Their primary battle stretched into June. When she withdrew, she supported Obama, but not without calling attention to what she had achieved and the number of votes she had received.

“Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it,” she said to a cheering crowd at the National Building Museum. “And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.”

On February 19, Clinton is joined by her husband, former president Bill Clinton, and daughter, Chelsea, at a rally in Las Vegas before the Nevada caucuses, in which she edged out Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.). (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

It has been. Hillary 2.0 is a far different campaign operation.She still struggles with campaigning. “This is not easy for me,” she said during a debate in March. “I am not a natural politician, in case you haven’t noticed, like my husband or President Obama. So I have a view that I just have to do the best I can.”

But there’s one problem she has put behind her: Having served as a senator and then as Obama’s Secretary of State, she has carved out an identity of her own — and Bill Clinton is the one in the supporting role.

Now, the question is whether the plans that she and Ickes began laying more than 17 years ago in the White House will take her back there as the nation’s 45th President — and the first woman to sit in the Oval Office.