Hillary Clinton graced Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall last night and 3,000 lucky Londoners were in the auditorium. The audience was buzzy and fidgety with anticipation, the applause was energetic, the whooping almost involuntary. The first woman to be nominated for president by a major party was given not one but two standing ovations. It was an electric evening of heavily political conversation – and a lesson in how to pick yourself up and dust yourself off after personal or professional setbacks.
Perfectly tailored pantsuits aside, here’s what we learned:
She’s not angry about losing to Donald Trump
Despite being on a book tour rather than in the Oval Office, Clinton was poised and determined to remain optimistic. ‘I’m not angry, I’m just trying to explain what happened,’ she said. ‘That is my goal.’
But she doesn’t know if his presidency can survive
She might be looking to the future, but she has grave concerns about the present president. Asked whether she thought Trump could go the distance, she replied: ‘I don’t know. Because I don’t know what’s going to happen with the criminal investigation. I think [Russia] is a really big problem. I think there are a lot more connections than have yet come to light. We’ve had really well-respected intelligence veterans say this was a kind of cyber 9/11. In the sense that it was a direct attack. It may sound dramatic but we know that they probed and tried to intrude into our election systems.’
She thinks we’re on the verge of a new cold war
Clinton went on to say that we are teetering on the edge of a new cold war: ‘The Russians aren’t done, this is an ongoing threat and that is one of the reasons why I wrote the book and one of the reasons I’m talking about it.’
She wrote the ‘memo’ on impeachment
This one made the audience laugh. Asked to compare Nixon and Trump’s presidency, Clinton talked about being a young lawyer in 1974, during President Nixon’s infamous downfall, revealing that, ironically, she ‘actually wrote the memo about what an impeachable offence was... if you can believe that’.
She says the ‘double standard is alive and well’
The woman who tried to break the ultimate glass ceiling said: ‘I believe strongly that the way to get sexism out of politics is to get more women into politics. The double standard is alive and well. I’ve been to countless political rallies, I’ve listened to hundreds if not thousands of men scream at political rallies. Occasionally I get carried away and scream and all of a sudden it’s a major front-page issue.’
She thinks women deserve more
‘It’s the unfinished business, globally, in the 21st century to free women from constraints and strictures that hold them back, that squash their dreams and to give every woman, everywhere the chance to live up to her own goddamn potential,’ Clinton said, to enthusiastic applause.
She wants to be remembered for being part of a revolution
Asked by an audience member how she wants history to remember her, Clinton replied: ‘I’m this midwestern girl from a middle-class family who came of age at a time when everything began to change for women in my country. I was part of a revolution. I was part of a revolution for women’s rights that began in the ’60s with real intensity and continues up to the present day. I became a leader of that revolution.’
Clinton was at the Southbank Centre to discuss her book ‘What Happened’ as part of the London Literature Festival.
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