Most discussion of Amy Chozick’s New York Times Magazine profile of “Planet Hillary” has focused on the cover illustration—a goofy, Hipgnosis-esque picture of Hillary Clinton as a grinning globe. Very few people have talked about the article itself. There is a reason: Like so many #longform pieces about politics, Chozick’s years-in-the-making* story has been scooped and rescooped by other magazines. Politico’s Maggie Haberman has reported the key details of Clinton’s “shadow campaign,” and the New Republic’s Alec MacGillis profile of Doug Band told the story of Clintonworld’s seedy side.
And so Chozick, who has covered the Clinton universe since 2007, was left with scraps—some fatty, most lean. We learn that Bill has kept tabs on “Ready for Hillary,” the fanzine PAC (he “personally checked in with an attendee” of an early meeting), and that Hillary refused to bail on Huma Abedin because she “inspires loyalty, and she’s loyal back.” (This is credited to “another person close to the inner circle,” who must remain anonymous, or else the Clintons might learn of his/her compliment.) We learn that Clintonworld is ridiculously sprawling and that Chelsea Clinton’s inherited clout cannot be challenged.
The story’s supposed to read a little surreal, I think, and a little like the work of a detective held off whenever possible by paranoid fixers. So we also learn plenty about the locations of key meals with key Clintonites.
- Clinton gatekeeper Philippe Reines meets for “lunch near the White House,” and talks “in between bites of a shrimp cocktail.”** Later, “he orders an Arnold Palmer and a Diet Coke.”
- Nick Merrill, Clinton’s press secretary, often joins Reines “over dumplings at Pei Wei Asian Diner.”
- Max Brantley, editor of the liberal Arkansas Times, talks Clintonworld “over gumbo at the Capital Hotel bar in Little Rock.”
- Former Clinton Chief of Staff Betsey Wright lives near the Clinton Library, which is itself near a hotel restaurant called Camp David, “a hidden treasure with a culinary style surely fit for both presidents and first ladies.”
- Bill Clinton talks to Chozick “over coffee at the Hilton in Nicosia, Cyprus.”
- Perhaps most importantly, “a person close to the Clintons” draws a map of Clintonworld while “sitting at a New York coffee shop one afternoon,” despite being told not to talk. Off you go, Reines—find that coffee shop’s security camera!
*She dates one interview, with Bill Clinton, in 2012.
**Correction, Jan. 24, 2014: This post originally misspelled Philippe Reines’ first name.