The First Partner: Hillary Rodham Clinton

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The First Partner: Hillary Rodham Clinton was written by Joyce Milton and published by HarperCollins in 1999.


The Washington Post said: "The First well-written and may be the single best compendium of every charge of malfeasance, true or false, that's ever been hurled at the Clintons."[1]

In a Booklist Review, Mary Carroll said: "...Milton is more interested in dishing dirt than in understanding her subject; here, she adopts a "gotcha" tone, whether the issue is Clinton's alleged bossiness in high school or her Arkansas real-estate deals."[2]

In National Review, Dick Morris said: "The chief lesson here is that there is very little about Mrs. Clinton that she will not either change or modify as the situation requires. We can expect a new "new Hillary Clinton" soon."[3]

Chapter summaries

One: The First Victim

Topics discussed
Notable events
Notable quotes
  • "[T]he former spokesperson for the 1960s, which prided itself on exposing hypocrisy and 'telling it like it is,' was now admired by many of her peers for her ability to close her mind to unpleasant realities." (pg. 10)[4]

Two: Rugged Individualist

Topics discussed
  • childhood
  • family
  • school
Notable events
Notable quotes
  • "'Children are not rugged individualists.' This is the first sentence of Hillary Rodham Clinton's book It Takes a Village, and it's a startling one because Hillary Rodham was a rugged individualist as a child." (pg. 11)[4]
  • "'I always felt Hillary thought she knew what was best, and that's what everybody should do.'" (pg. 19)[4]

Three: The Art of the Impossible

Topics discussed
  • Undergrad studies at Wellesley
  • Studies at Yale Law
  • Meeting & dating Bill
  • Campaigning for child's empowerment & destruction of nuclear family
  • Work on Nixon impeachment
Notable events
Notable quotes
  • "[T]he most notable feature of Hillary's Wellesley career was her tendency to befriend students who were destined for success in later life." (pg. 28)[4]
  • "'Hillary is stuck in a bit of a time warp. She has not learned as I think I have the power of the market.'" (pg. 37)[4]
  • "[Hillary] advocated liberating our 'child citizens' from the 'empire of the father.' (pg. 59)[4]
  • "With hindsight, the most interesting thing about Hillary's views is her assumption that all dependency relationships are bad–––except the dependence of the individual on the state." (pg. 60)[4]
  • "Hillary 'paid no attention to the way the Constitution works in this country, the way politics works, the way Congress works, the way legal safeguards are set up.'" (pg. 66)[4]

Four: The Yankee Girlfriend

Topics discussed
  • Move to Arkansas
  • Bill's failed House race
  • wedding
  • Bill's successful 1976 Attorney General race
Notable events
Notable quotes
  • "Hillary realized if she married Bill, she would be the one responsible for their financial security for the foreseeable future. This seemed to bother her more than his womanizing, or perhaps they were part of the same problem." (pg. 85)[4]

Five: First in Her Firm

Topics discussed
  • Hillary joins Rose Law Firm
  • Bill wins 1978 Arkansas gubernatorial race
  • Hillary's sketchy commodities trading stint
  • Hillary's pregnancy
  • Taxpayers billed for Clintons' personal expenses
  • Clintons cheating on taxes
Notable events
Notable quotes
  • "Undoubtedly, Hillary was often lonely. She had no close friends in town, social events in Little Rock were invariably organized for couples, and the problem, recalls Hubbell, was that 'of course Bill was never around.'" (pg. 93)
  • "Unable to control her husband's behavior, Hillary concentrated on taking care of the family finances." (pg. 95)

Six: Survival Plan

Topics discussed
  • Chelsea born
  • Bill loses gubernatorial re-election; immediately begins campaigning
  • Illegal activities of Legal Services Corporation
  • Bill's re-election campaign; negative ads
  • Hillary's name change
  • Hillary hires private investigator to document Bill's affairs
Notable events
Notable quotes
  • "[W]ith Hillary preoccupied with the baby and her job, Clinton was feeling sorry for himself, and he compensated by seeking out other women." (pg. 116)
  • "Dolly Kyle Browning, who saw Hillary at social events, would observe, 'it took her a long time to learn to pretend to like us.'" (pg. 119)
  • "Hillary's instant decision to engineer a comeback effort suggested that even at this early stage she couldn't see her marriage apart from her and Bill's shared political ambitions." (pg. 121)

Seven: A Woman of Many Projects

Topics discussed
  • Hillary's friendship and possible affair with Vince Foster
  • Education reform
  • Roger Clinton's drug arrest & conviction
  • Bill implicated; accused of cocaine use
  • Bill's depression
  • Hillary threatens divorce
  • Family therapy
  • Bill announces run for fourth term as governor
  • Sketchy finances re: Jim McDougal and Whitewater
Notable events
  • August 14, 1984: Roger Clinton arraigned for cocaine-related charges; released on $5,000 bond.
  • November 1984: Roger pleads guilty to one count of drug trafficking.
  • January 27, 1985: Roger sentenced to two to five years (released after one for good behavior).
  • Summer 1985: Hillary tells friends of plans to file for divorce.

Notable quotes
  • "Brown felt that both the Clintons held working people, law enforcement types and "rednecks" in contempt, though Bill was better at disguising his feelings that Hillary." (pg. 147)
  • "[O]ther troopers also believed that Hillary and Vince Foster were having an affair." (pg. 148)
  • "If practicing law was often unrewarding, Hillary's first major venture into policy making would be deemed a resounding success." (pg. 152)
  • "Hillary's considerable skills as an executive and motivator often seemed squandered because of her inability to find a job large enough for her ambitions." (pg. 161)

Eight: The Gary Hart Factor

Topics discussed
  • Bill decides last minute not to run for president in 1987
  • Bill's rampant affairs
  • School merger fiasco
  • Giroir ousted from Rose law firm
  • Suspicious work by Rose
  • School "reform" shenanigans
  • Chair of Children's Defense Fund (Hillary)
  • Bill chairs DNC
  • Bill announces run for president in 1991
Notable events
  • July 15, 1987: At a press conference where Bill was expected to announce his presidential campaign, he announced instead that he would not be running.
  • 1987: Hillary appointed by Judge Woods as legal adviser to a three-member committee tasked with drafting a plan for dealing with a federal suit filed by the Little Rock school district for unification with wealthier suburban school districts.
  • January 1989: Joe Giroir resigns from Rose law firm.
  • December 1989: Bill and Hillary attend counseling with a methodist counselor and decide to stay married.
  • September 1990: Larry Nichols files lawsuit implicating Bill.

Notable quotes
  • "But Hillary at this point had invested almost as much effort in Bill's career as he had, a consideration that had to weigh heavily against any thought of divorce." (pg. 194)

Nine: Everyone Has a List

Topics discussed
  • Presidential campaign in '91 & '92
  • Expensive cover-ups of Bill's affairs
  • Defamation, discrediting, intimidation, theft of evidence to cover up affairs
  • 60 Minutes interview of Clintons with positive spin gives big boost to campaign
  • Careless remarks from Hillary
Notable events
Notable quotes
  • "As we now know, the nastiest things Bill Clinton's opponents said about him were essentially accurate." (pg. 206)
  • "Ironically, considering all the energy that was going into spin and counterspin on the 'bimbo' issue, Hillary, not Bill, emerged from the 60 Minutes interview as the Clinton with an image problem." (pg. 235)
  • "Hillary had almost worked herself around to believing that Bill was the sexual harassment victim, beset by predatory females who were being used by his enemies to bring him down." (pg. 241)

Ten: The Transition That Wasn't

Topics discussed
  • White House transition
  • Cabinet appointments
  • Finding a non-nepotist role for Hillary (health care reform)
Notable quotes
  • "Clinton's failure to appoint a strong manager undoubtedly reflected a sense that Hillary, despite her lack of an official title, remained his most important adviser." (pg. 249)

Eleven: Reclaiming America

Topics discussed
  • Early presidency
  • Disorganized White House
  • Marital conflict
  • Clinton Care debacle
  • Drug addict White House staffers
  • Death of Hugh Rodham, Sr.
  • Hillary's failed moral development
Notable events
  • March 19, 1993: Hugh Rodham, Sr. rushed to St. Vincent's hospital in Little Rock following devastating stroke.
  • April 7, 1993: Hugh Rodham, Sr. dies at St. Vincent's.
Notable quotes
  • "On some fundamental level, Bill and Hillary undoubtedly were in love and always had been. They shared a long history together, valued their roles as parents of Chelsea and each understood the other better than anyone else ever would. But the fact was, they often didn't get along." (pg. 265)
  • "Hillary seemed to be groping, very painfully, toward certainties that other people - not necessarily all conservatives - took for granted, and Kelly rightly questioned whether anyone whose ideas on morality were so unformed was in a position to lead the country in a search for 'meaning'." (pg. 285)

Twelve: A Box with No Windows

Topics discussed
  • Travel office investigation (Travelgate)
  • Vince Foster's suicide
  • Stumping for Clintoncare
  • Early bipartisan support for Clintoncare
  • Gingrich builds opposition
  • Hillary personally offended by attacks on Clintoncare
Notable events
Notable quotes
  • "Hillary's willingness to rush to the bedside of her dying father showed her at her best." (pg. 286)
  • "Ironically, the people who were supposedly going to slash 28 percent from the costs of medical services could not manage their own budget." (pg. 287)
  • "[T]he Clintonites' lack of respect for process shocked many of the White House's permanent employees. Hillary and her aides failed to realize that there was an ethic of loyalty to the office of the presidency which the new administration had undermined to its peril." (pg. 300)

Thirteen: Lawyering Up

Topics discussed
  • New news of Bill's infidelities
  • Whitewater legal proceedings; lies & cover-ups from Hillary; tax fraud
  • Livingstone
  • Targeting IRS audits at White House enemies
  • Death of Clintoncare
  • Hillary's fallen status in White House
Notable events
  • July 1994: Hillary is booed by several hundred demonstrators in Seattle speech on Clintoncare.
  • January 1996: Hillary summoned to testify in person before Whitewater grand jury.

Fourteen: From the White House to Your House

Topics discussed
  • First lady etiquette, heritage, dignity
  • White House kitchen worker discrimination scandal
  • Hillary's Christmas hostess gaffes and lies about them
  • Hillary's brain conferences; federal day care advocacy despite research
Notable events
  • April 1997: Hillary follows up the publication of It Takes a Village with the first of two White House conferences on child care, known to some West Wing staffers as "Hillary's brain conference".
Notable quotes
  • "Most social change does not come from policy professionals. It happens in ways that are dynamic, unpredictable and often messy. There is something in the mind of Hillary Clinton that feels threatened by this. Despite lots of evidence that central planning doesn't work, she clings to the belief that just because a solution is labeled 'comprehensive' or 'universal', it necessarily serves everyone's needs." (pg. 350)

Fifteen: China Syndrome

Topics discussed
  • UN Conference on Women
  • Sketchy Paraguay relations
  • Delegation seats/meetings for purchase
  • Foreign campaign and DNC contributions
  • Welcoming Chinese spies
Notable events
  • September 1995: Hillary attends UN's Fourth International Conference on Women in Beijing as honorary chair of the US delegation and gives memorable speech attacking China's human rights violations.

Sixteen: The Making of an Icon

Topics discussed
  • Feminist activism
  • Advocating state subsidized micro-credit; wasting money w/untrustworthy banks
  • Foreign pro-feminist speeches
  • Inspired by Princess Diana & Queen Noor, Hillary tries to become a face and an icon instead of an ideologue
  • "Bimbo eruption" epidemic
  • Lewinsky scandal
  • Hillary's changing public image
  • Marital difficulty
  • Hillary's ambitions
Notable events
  • November 1996: Hillary embarrasses Thailand on official state visit by leading reporters and cameramen on tour of clinic for AIDS-infected prostitutes.
  • March 1997: Chelsea accompanies Hillary on two-week tour of five African nations.
  • October 1997: Hillary endorses birth control in speech given during a state visit in Argentina, offending many in the predominantly Catholic nation.
Notable quotes
  • "The advantage of being an icon was that appearances come to be accepted as reality. No matter how many of Hillary's projects fail to live up to their billing, her reputation as a very smart woman is unlikely to suffer." (pg. 389)

Epilogue: The Half-Life of a First Lady

Topics discussed
  • New York Senate run
  • Reaction therein to Bill's chronic infidelity
  • Campaign gaffes
  • Palestine support
  • NY house hunting & funding
  • Bill's support for Hillary
  • Speculation about Hillary's future
Notable events
  • February 6, 2000: Hillary makes official announcement of candidacy for Senate seat.
Notable quotes
  • "The amazing aspect of the Talk was that Hillary showed not a glimmer of awareness that her conduct, either public or private, might be less than noble and self-sacrificing." (pg. 413)
  • "Hillary Clinton has never accepted the commonly held notion that she is far to the left of her husband." (pg. 429)

See also



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  1. From front cover of "First Perennial" edition
  2. Booklist review on Amazon (under "Editorial Reviews")
  3. Dick Morris review on Barnes & Noble (under "Editorial Reviews")
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Milton, Joyce. The First Partner: Hillary Rodham Clinton. New York: Perennial, 2000.