clintonThe enduring question regarding Hillary Clinton’s four years as secretary for state is how she managed to fly a million miles in four years and accomplish a certain amount of diplomacy at the same time. A new account by one of her traveling press corps fills in some of the blanks.

Kim Ghattas knows the kind of detail we want from her book, The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of Power. After all, she travelled in Clinton’s press corps on many of her notorious leg-after-leg journeys. Ghattas tells us how uncomfortable it all was, writing that the sleep deprivation and jet lag could make people either “comatose” or “delirious” with exhaustion. She describes the food panic on the plane when endless unplanned stops were added to trips with no time to bring additional meals on board. (Hillary kindly brought the chocolates from her hotel room and passed them to a ravenous press corps.)

Ghattas, a BBC reporter, has a good eye for the visual:

“Once in Thailand for an Asian regional meeting, we’d had to traipse across a sandy beach in our heels and suits, carrying laptop bags, to reach our rooms in 90-degree heat and 80 per cent humidity.”

Not all accommodation was resort-based. Last minute changes to the schedule were the norm and often resulted in an absence of hotel rooms. There were times when the press had to sleep on the secretary of state’s  plane – an old, uncomfortable, lumbering bus of a machine that was prone to breaking down. Journalists drew lots for seats at the beginning of a trip. The lucky few got into business class; the rest were crowded into economy for flights that lasted up to 16 hours.

Continue reading in The Guardian


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