James Bond had Q. Barack Obama had H.
In the 296 Hillary Clinton emails released Friday afternoon by the State Department, we see a lot of backstage back-and-forth discussion of the deadly 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.
We also get a rare peek at some of the peculiarities of her daily life as President Obama’s secretary of state – starting with the fact that, in email, her staff addressed her, simply, as “H.”
And with the famously buttoned-up former First Lady, some staffers were fairly casual in their parlance.
On Dec. 20, 2012, as she was at home recovering from a concussion due to a fall, Clinton emailed two top aides, Thomas Nides and William Burns, who were headed to Capitol Hill to testify before Congress on her behalf.
“I’ll be nursing my cracked head and cheering you on as you ‘remain calm and carry on!’ ” Clinton wrote.
Nides wrote back with shoddy punctuation and spelling: “Thanks I wish I could tell u I am looking forward to this but it would be a lie! Get better….”
Then there are the idiosyncrasies of Clinton’s tightly scheduled days. Clinton’s daily planner from her scheduler was often broken down into 5-minute blocks (as in the five minutes Clinton was to “drop by” the surprise birthday party of communications strategist Philippe Reines) and included the day’s weather report, plus the planned overnight whereabouts of Clinton and her husband.
The schedule for Nov. 26, 2012, noted: “HRC RON Washington, DC; WJC RON Chappaqua, NY.”
Translation: Hillary Rodham Clinton, remain overnight Washington, DC; William Jefferson Clinton, remain overnight Chappaqua, NY.
That same schedule quaintly listed Undersecretary Pat Kennedy as Clinton’s “plus one” for an afternoon meeting in the White House Situation Room.
Perhaps the most colorful commentary in the entire collection comes from Reines, describing for colleagues how Monica Langley of The Wall Street Journal moved her chair uncomfortably close to Clinton during an Oct. 10, 2012, interview in the Secretary’s outer office at the State Department:
“…she moved that yellow chair as close as it went. Knee to knee. Amazed she didn’t try knee in between knee. And if that wasn’t enough, she leaned forward. More like a pivot, as far as her torso could fold forward to minimize the space between their heads. Was like the dental hygienist rolling around the floor to get the best access to your mouth depending on what tooth she was trying to get access to I’ve never seen a Westerner invade her space like that And even the non Westerners I’ve seen do it based on cultural differences have been only briefly to greet, This went on like that for 51 minutes – unacceptable in any culture. I don’t even think you see that behavior among any type of mammal. The touching the leg and repeatedly calling her ‘Hillary’ was just gravy. But it was wonderful. One of the best interviews I’ve ever witnessed. Wish it were on live tv.”
From the presidential campaign trail on Friday, Clinton said of the remaining emails that she is pressing the State Department to release “all of them as soon as possible.”