LOOK TO THE FUTURE
You’re one of the most famous women on earth, and you’re jobless for the first time in decades. You’d like to make money, but you don’t want to rule out running for President. So what do you do all day?
Right now, aides and friends say, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s plan looks like this: exit the state department shortly after Inauguration Day and then seclude herself to rest and reflect on what she wants to do for the next few years. Those who have invited her for 2013 engagements have been told not to even ask again until April or May.
She and her husband would like to buy a house in the Hamptons or upstate New York, several friends said, and Clinton will finally have more time for everyday activities like exercise (last summer, between world crises, she was squeezing in 6am sessions at a pool with a trainer).
She is likely to use her husband’s foundation as at least a temporary perch, several former aides said, and she has been considering a new book — not a painful examination of her failed 2008 presidential bid, as she once proposed, but a more upbeat look at her time as secretary of state.
For the moment, Clinton may appear to be a figure of nearly limitless possibility, and her name has come up for prestigious jobs: president of Yale University, head of George Soros’s foundation. But being Hillary Clinton is never a simple matter, and her next few years are less a blank cheque than an equation with multiple variables.
Clinton may find that her freedom comes with one huge constraint. The more serious she is about 2016, the less she can do — no frank, seen-it-all memoir; no clients, commissions or controversial positions that could prove problematic. She will be under heavy scrutiny even by Clinton standards.
With the election four years away — a political eon — she will have to tend and protect her popularity, and she may find herself in a cushy kind of limbo, unable to make many decisions about her life until she makes the big one about another White House try.
Still, Clinton faces some immediate choices.
Should she team up with her husband again?
Last summer, Bill Clinton expressed doubt about whether his wife would join forces with him at the foundation that bears his name. “She has to decide what’s best for her,” he said. “It might be better for her and she might have a bigger impact if she has a separate operation.”
The question is a fraught one. The climactic moment of Clinton’s career came in 2000, when after years of supporting her husband’s campaigns and jobs, she struck out as a solo artist.
Would rejoining his team be a step backward? Many aides said no. “She’s revered and admired as her own person,” said Lissa Muscatine, her long-time adviser.
Clinton could do a trial run there, “testing the structure”, as one former aide put it.
Should she do what she wants or what makes the most political sense?
Of all the issues Clinton has worked on over the years, the one nearest her heart is improving the status of women and children around the world. She turned her tenure as secretary of state into a sustained argument that women’s welfare is central to security and economic stability, championing projects like support networks for self-employed women in India. Now her desire is to be “a professional advocate”, as her daughter put it to a reporter.
But even if Clinton returns full time to her activist feminist roots, it is not yet clear exactly where she would begin: the topic is diffuse by its very nature.
What is the most dignified way for her to make money?
Being a Clinton is expensive, and when the former secretary leaves office, she’ll want a staff and the ability to travel on private planes, friends say. The Clintons, who already own costly homes in Washington and New York, love renting in the Hamptons in the summer and buying their own home there could easily run well into the seven figures.
Though friends say Clinton could easily make a lot of money at a law firm, advising foreign countries on geopolitical risk, or at an investment bank or a private equity firm, none of those pursuits would be likely to wear well in a presidential campaign.
Instead, Clinton is expected to take on lucrative speaking engagements — maybe even joint speeches with her husband, which could command record prices — and write one or more books.