"Authenticity?" I suggest.
Hubbell nods. Shifting to the third-person, he says of Clinton, "I think that instead she needs to be herself. She's a great person."
Who is Hillary?
Her book tour is not going great. Clinton seems to be repeating the central mistake of her 2008 presidential campaign, burying her personality and passion beneath redundant layers of caution, calculation and defensiveness.
The campaign to sell "Hard Choices" "“ a test run for the 2016 presidential campaign "“ began with Clinton telling ABC's Diane Sawyer that she and her husband were "dead broke" when they left the White House. While that's perhaps true in a literal sense, the remark ignored dead-certain plans for the Clintons to make more money per speech than an average American earns in a year.
Then, during an excruciating seven-minute span with NPR's Terry Gross, Clinton fought a fair-minded attempt to clarify her evolution on gay marriage. A better answer would have been the easiest one: "Like many Americans, I didn't always support gay marriage. It was a mistake. As president, I'll never let politics determine my decision-making. Now, let me tell you when and why I changed ..."
On Friday, Clinton was asked whether she feels more able to speak her mind freely. "I think that's true, from some of the reactions I've had the last few days." The sold-out audience laughed. But she sounded serious about tapping her inner-honesty.
"Maybe because I'm totally done with being really careful about what to say because somebody might think this instead of that," Clinton continued, according to the Washington Examiner. "It just gets too exhausting, and it just seems a whole lot easier to just put it out there and hope people get used to it."
Hubbell isn't the only person encouraging Clinton to get real. I wrote a column six months ago that channeled her closest associates urging Clinton to run a radically atypical campaign "“ accessible, authentic, insurgent and populist. One of the sources of that column, a top adviser, told me last week, "My friend is making the same old mistakes."
It's after 9 p.m. before Hubbell's friends and family clear out the front parlor of St. John's Church, across Lafayette Park from the White House. While we're not personal friends, I've known and liked Hubbell since the 1980s, when I worked in Arkansas media. He's had a life of second chances.
Hubbell was drafted by the Chicago Bears, but a shredded knee got him cut by legendary coach George Halas, who Hubbell still calls "Papa Bear." A $1,000 severance check helped Hubbell pay for graduate school and launch his career.
A top Arkansas lawyer, a former Little Rock, Ark., mayor (one of the nation's youngest from 1979-82) and former chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, Hubbell became the third-ranking lawyer in the Clinton administration. For a single, chaotic year, he was the family's man at Justice.