The XX Factor

Does Hillary Want More Babies of Her Own?

“Bill Clinton: Hillary wants grandkids over the presidency.” That is the rather irritating headline on a Politico piece today about some remarks of Bill’s at the World Economic Forum in Davos yesterday. Having already commented on his own intense desire to be a grandfather, Bill added:  “I would like to have a happy wife and she won’t be unless she’s a grandmother. It’s something she wants more than she wanted to be president.”

The first problem with this story is that Bill repeats himself. He made this exact crack on Letterman back in September , so it beats me why Politico and other outlets ( here’s Bloomberg ) are so titillated by it now. And then there’s that headline-there is obviously a big difference between what Bill said (that Hillary wants a grandchild more than anything) and what Politico ’s headline nonsensically suggests (that being a grandmother and being president might somehow be mutually exclusive).

But what intrigues me more is a little-noted Hillary quote that the Politico reporter throws in. Asked about the grandchild thing, she told ABC earlier this month :  “Well, you know, I will only get in trouble however I respond to that. But let me just say, I love babies, so you know, maybe I’ll have more in my life some day.”

That’s right: I. As Carl Bernstein reported in A Woman in Charge , his biography of Hillary, the Clintons had difficulty conceiving Chelsea, probably as a result of Hillary’s endometriosis. She always wanted more children, and while they never arrived, she was still hoping for one as late as the 1990s. Writes Bernstein, in a little noted passage :

Even during their early years in the White House, she and Bill talked seriously about adopting, and discussed with friends in California who had adopted how they might go about the process themselves. In Hillary’s forty-ninth year, she raised the subject bizarrely in an interview with a Time magazine reporter. “I must say, we’re hoping to have another child,” Hillary said. When the stunned journalist asked if she meant by natural birth she added: “I have to tell you I would be surprised but not disappointed. My friends would be appalled, I’m sure.”

That was in 1996. Before long, of course, the Clintons’ marriage took a sharp turn for the worse, and her hopes seem to have been shelved.

But now she says: “Maybe I’ll have more in my life someday.” Maybe I am getting ahead of myself. Maybe she really is talking about grandchildren. But I prefer to imagine that, at 63, Hillary just might be thinking of giving 54-year-old foster-mama-to-23 Michele Bachmann some competition.