Good evening from Seattle’s Paramount Theatre! Welcome to our live coverage of former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Seattle stop on her book tour for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign memoir What Happened.
Here’s the synopsis of the tour:
Join Hillary Rodham Clinton this fall as she travels the United States. She’ll connect with audiences in a conversation about a story that’s personal, raw, detailed and surprisingly funny. She’ll take you with her on her journey and talk about What Happened, what’s next, and what’s on your mind. What you’ll see will be her story – Live. Her story of resilience, how to get back up after a loss, and how we can all look ahead. It’s about Hillary’s experience as a woman in politics — she lets loose on this topic, and others, in a way she never has before.
Clinton has claimed 2016 was her final campaign for elected office, and at least for those in the room, there seems to be more anticipation to hear from her than people in Salt Lake City or Fort Worth would have been for Mitt Romney in 2013 or for that matter anyone was for John Kerry in 2005.
6:15 PM: Tonight is set to have at least two surprises. The event is set to begin at 7:30 PM Pacific, but we’re not sure yet which of the two chairs Secretary Clinton will be sitting in for the event, or even who’ll be sitting in the other chair.
For now, media are getting settled in as much as can be done in the corner, and, perhaps because of the attempted terror attack in New York City this morning, the Secret Service and security asked everyone with credentials to get in no later than an hour and a half before the start of the event for wand-waves and bad searches.
At the moment, Clinton is meeting with VIP ticket holders, listed at $500 to $650 at face value. This is quite a discount from last October when similar access to the eventual U.S. popular vote winner would have cost about 40 times more.
6:45 PM: In addition to the two pink-lit stairs on stage, there are three bookshelves showing off more than fifty copies of her book, and another great mound stacked on tables on the way in the auditorium.
For whatever easy jabs about ticket prices and those willing to pay a few hundred dollars to speak, get a book signed by, and take a picture with a political celebrity, an answer to that title is something many people here clearly are looking for.
7 PM: During the 2016 campaign, like many people, I was a political junkie. It was the best show in town and moreover, everyone on the side of Good and Decent Things expected polling was reliable, and enough Americans would reject the uniform awfulness of the GOP nominee that there was no way he could win.
We were right about the first part; they just all lived in or had moved to the wrong places. The reason those campaign fundraisers cost upwards of $27,000 a ticket is that money can easily cross state lines, but not votes.
But, there was so much content to be consumed, not just the Live Every Day Drama of Twitter and WaPo bombs and shouty cable news panels, but also back in time. The Howard Stern interviews of a braggart groper made good hate-watching, but Secretary Clinton had many of her own highlights, especially her Hard Choices book tour following her departure from the State Department.
We rarely got to see the easy confidence and wit Clinton was capable of when, for example, she sat down to talk to Google’s Eric Schmidt.
It’s literally impossible to imagine the current commander-in-chief talking about the Syrian Civil War, or any geopolitical topic with the knowledge and self-reflection Clinton demonstrates in that brief talk.
Which is all to say, I’m one of those people very much looking forward to what Clinton has to say, and to see how she feels now that it looks increasingly like history will view her as a Cassandra for what her opponent’s presidency would look like.
7:15 PM: There are substantially fewer pink March for Women hats than I would have anticipated (we’ve seen at least two people wearing them).
But in wa,y I’m not surprised because so far the crowd appears to be pretty gray-haired and predominantly female. From the the corner of the theater we’re stationed in, it’s tough to see if the balcony has some more people relatively unburdened by years and therefore multi-digited bank accounts, but it’s easy to see why Clinton’s campaign resonated so personally with so many women across the U.S. before the glass ceiling cracked and wouldn’t quite break.
7:30 PML In the context of so many widely publicized accounts of sexual harassment and abuse, it’s possible Clinton will open up more about her own experiences dealing with harassment and general misogyny throughout her life, but doing so means breathing on the haunted mirror that spells out words like J u a n i t a and b l u e d r e s s. “How can Clinton claim to talk about harassment when her own husband—”
The hall is nearly filled up now, but the lights still haven’t dimmed.
7:45 PM: It may not be possible to find this out, but I’d be awfully curious whether this crowd matches up more with Clinton voters or donors in 2015–2016, and how it matches with, say, a progressive rock show like King Crimson. (Stay strong Dave.)
This hall does not, at first glance, seem to be a representative sample of the Democratic Party’s base, even though Seattle really, really preferred Clinton relative to her opponent. But this is definitely not a snapshot of the city as a whole. Why it would be or ought to be, are probably entirely too discursive, even for this.
7:47 PM: Moderator Anne Lamott introduced Hillary Clinton by saying, “Please join me in welcoming the woman who said Yes,” to thunderous cheers and a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd.
Clinton opened by remarking that in the past, she often felt like she needed to be cautious and hold something back, but “those days are over.”
Loud cheers and applause followed.
Clinton said her book looking back is about things that were frustrating like the chapter “Those Damn Emails”, but also the moments she wants to treasure like standing on stage to receive the Democratic nomination.
Writing a book is often a painful process, but ultimately cathartic, Clinton said. She talked about four things that helped her recover from the election:
- The knowledge that everyone gets knocked down at some point or another; and what matters is whether you get back up;
- Spending time with family and grandkids instead of succumbing to the temptation to pull up the covers in the morning;
- Reading a lot of books, especially mysteries, because in those the bad guy usually gets it in the end;
- Not hesitating to relax with a glass of Chardonnay.
Clinton also talked about the importance faith has for her. There’s too much at stake for anyone to sit on the sidelines. People have to continue speaking out, she said. There are people who need us to advocate for them. Like the children and families who will be hurt by Congress’ failure to reauthorize CHIP.