For many people who live and work inside the beltway the day after the election was a day of mourning and shock. To distract myself, after work I headed to the Library of Congress where I am fortunate to have a research office. It’s on the top floor of the Adams Building and provides a bird’s eye view of Capitol Hill. There is a church and steeple in the foreground and RFK Stadium in the distance.
As I settled in, I pulled a bound volume of Vanity Fair off my bookshelf. It was from 1992. The article I needed was in the April issue, but the May issue caught my eye. Plastered on the cover was Ivana Trump and a blaring headline “Ivana Be a Star! Ms. Trump’s Literary Debut.” And then in the lower right hand corner was a red banner with yet another headline. This one was about Hillary Clinton—“Will she get to the White House with Bill or without him?” Nearly a quarter century later, and after two failed presidential bids, we finally know the answer. No, Hillary Clinton will not get to the White House on her own. But who could have guessed in 1992 that in 2016 these two women would be connected by a presidential election – the ex-husband of Ivana would be running against Hillary Clinton for the highest office in the land. I kept reading.
These two profiles about two very different women were literally back-to-back. I started reading the Ivana article and was transported to her jet-setting life style, boyfriend at the time, Riccardo Mazzucchelli, who gave her a ten-karat-yellow-diamond ring from Tiffany, and later became her husband for nearly two years. The magazine cover talked about her debut novel, but all the article said about the book was that it sounded eerily similar to the author; it was about a Czechoslovakian born skier married to an American Tycoon, runs a hotel and goes through a long, drawn-out divorce (p. 130). The rest of the article was a profile of Ivana, her early life in Czechoslovakia, her past loves before Donald (and after), and her jet-setting life.
There were two things I found of particular interest; the first was this quote: “The most important thing in Ivana’s life is publicity,” says a New York social figure. “She’s exactly like Donald in that way. They live for publicity. It’s a drug for them” (p. 178). Donald Trump’s comfort in the spotlight and his adeptness at managing it to his advantage were seen throughout his presidential campaign. Trump was so effective at garnering media attention that his campaign did not need to spend the millions upon millions that presidential candidates typically spent on television advertising.
The other thing I found interesting was Ivana talking about her children and how they lived with her. Throughout the campaign, Trump was credited for raising three great children. Even Hillary gave him credit for that much, yet no one ever mentioned Ivana.
During the interview, writer Bob Colacello asked Ivana about accusations that she traveled too much and didn’t spend enough time with her three children. “’That’s the only thing that really upsets me terribly,’ she answered. ‘I spend all the time with them. The children are living with me … so I think I’m a terrific mother. I’m very proud of that.’ My mother is always around and my two nannies which are around—not that they could replace me, by no means. (p. 182).
Her three children are now grown and have been center-stage this political season with Ivanka shining above all and trying to ease the gaffes her father makes. At the time the article was published she was just ten and described as “tall and pretty and blonde and quick with the sarcasm.” (P. 190). When asked what Ivanka wanted to do when she grew up, she “smiled brightly, she answered, ‘The same as Mom.’
From the glitzy world of Ivana Trump I was transported to the politically savvy world of Hillary Clinton during Bill’s first run for the presidency. This article was entitled “What Hillary Wants: How many touch choices has Hillary Clinton had to make along the road to the White House?” by Gail Sheehy. That headline reverberates true today despite being more than two decades old.
Sheehy writes “The most controversial figure of the election year so far has been a woman, Hillary Clinton, and she isn’t running for office. Or is she? Whether she loves the boy in Bill Clinton as much as the man or whether she is simply unwilling to forfeit her sixteen years’ investment in their political partnership, Hillary is determined to seize the national stage.” (p. 140).
The article goes on to describe how she headlined a luncheon fundraiser in Los Angeles and she left the audience wanting more. As “Hillary dazzled the audience … she said ‘We need to be against brain-dead politics wherever we find it!’ she thundered, looking fierce in a fire engine red suit. ‘We need to forge a new consensus about [our] new political direction … that doesn’t jerk us to the right, jerk us to the left, prey on our emotions, engender paranoia and insecurity … but instead moves us forward together.” (P. 142). I can hear her saying the same thing today. Well, maybe she’s more polished and would use a synonym for ‘jerk.’ But what that quote also demonstrates is Hillary’s consistent message and focus over the years.
When the Vanity Fair article was written, Hillary’s rejection of baking cookies was national news as was Gennifer Flowers. Yet despite those crises, Hillary triumphed and continued to impress those around her. Many talked about her running for president, and here we are. She finally did. How devastating this loss must be for her. The one thing this article drove home for me was that her sights have been on the presidency for much longer than I realized.
“’She wants to win as bad as he does.’ Is she tougher than he is? ‘I think so,’ laughs Carolyn Huber [long-time aide and confidante]. ‘She’s more clear about what she wants and the way she wants it done. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when Hillary set her mind to something she wanted to happen that it hasn’t happened.’” [P. 145]. It seems that time has come.
Who would have thought a Vanity Fair magazine from nearly 25 years ago would still have so much relevance today. So much for escaping the election.
Bob Colacello. “Ivana Czechs In,” Vanity Fair, May 1992, p. 134-138, p. 178-190.
Gaily Sheehy. “What Hillary Wants: How many touch choices has Hillary Clinton had to make along the road to the White House?,”Vanity Fair, May 1992, p. 140-147, 212-217.