In her new book on her loss of the 2016 presidential election – and her shock, anger and grief – Hillary Clinton has given the clearest insight to date into a marriage that has fascinated the world since the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
“I don’t believe our marriage is anyone’s business??? But I know that a lot of people are genuinely interested. Maybe you’re flat out perplexed,” she writes in What Happened, introducing a deeply personal passage on the couple’s shared life.
“There were times that I was deeply unsure about whether our marriage could or should survive,” she writes without specifically mentioning her husband’s infamous infidelities.
“But on those days I asked myself the question that mattered most to me: Do I still love him? And can I still be in this marriage without becoming unrecognisable to myself-twisted by anger, resentment, or remoteness. The answers were always yes. So I kept going.”
She writes of the joy she still feels when she thinks of their first date at a Rothko exhibition.
“I still think he’s one of the most handsome men I have ever known.
“I am proud of him: proud of his vast intellect, his big heart, the contributions he has made to the world.
“I love him with my whole heart.”
Throughout the book Bill is discussed as Clinton’s key personal and political confidant, as an engaged and loving father and grandfather and as a champion of Hillary’s career.
“Long before I thought of running for public office, he was saying, “You should do it. You’d be great it. I’d love to vote for you,” she writes
There are hints that their relationship was strengthened by the public life they shared.
“For Bill and and me, there are added complications,” she writes. “Do we let people into our lives who we don’t know very well? What if they just want to get to know us in order to have a good story to tell?”
And Clinton discusses how they turned to each other upon her shock defeat.
The day after making her concession speech the two retreated to their New York home and avoided their phones and email, Clinton saying, the two, “couldn’t quite handle everyone’s kindness and sorry, their bewilderment and their theories for where and why we had fallen short ??? for now Bill and I kept the rest of the world out. I was grateful for the one-billionth time that I had a husband who was good company not just in happy times but sad ones as well.”
Clinton explicitly rejects the suggestion that the two have shared a marriage of convenience.
“I know some people wonder why we’re still together. I heard it again in the 2016 campaign: that “we must have an arrangement” (we do, it’s called a marriage): that I helped him become President and then stayed so he could help me become President (no); that we lead completely separate lives, and it’s just a marriage on paper now (he is reading this over my shoulder in our kitchen with our dogs underfoot.)”
The relationship has proved to be controversial not just because people suspected its basis.
Clinton has faced criticism for defending her husband to the point of unfairly attacking women who accused him of sexual misconduct.
Meanwhile Bill Clinton has been viewed by some as an unhelpful influence in his wife’s two failed presidential campaigns.