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Hillary Clinton's many 'good friends'

As she tries to prove she can connect with common Americans, Clinton's memoir lists many famous and powerful "friends."
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the New America Foundation conference at Newseum in Washington, D.C., May 16, 2014.
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the New America Foundation conference at Newseum in Washington, D.C., May 16, 2014.

Scientists say that most people have only a small handful of close friends, but Hillary Clinton is not most people -- and she attempts to prove it in her new memoir. 

From aides and fellow senior government officials to world leaders and at least one rock star, “Hard Choices” is jam-packed with praise for "old friends," "longtime friends," "valued friends," "invaluable friends," and more. Outside of deposed despots, hardly anyone comes in for criticism. 

In what's perhaps a tactful move ahead of a looming potential 2016 presidential bid, the memoir is extremely careful not to offend anyone, and seems optimized for the “Index Scan,” the notorious Washington practice whereby VIPs find their name and read what is written about them, and little else. 

After perusing the book’s extensive 32-page index, power-brokers in a dozen world capitals will be pleased to find their close relationship with Clinton certified by her official record. 

A list of these “friends” also provides an interesting window into the rarefied and cosmopolitan world which Clinton has come to inhabit, even as she tries to brush off charges of elitism. There are numerous heads of state, but almost zero “friends” listed who are not famous or powerful.

It’s a pattern that has continued during her aggressive publicity tour promoting the book, even in forums designed to give common folks access to the former secretary of state. During a Q&A hosted by Twitter last week, Clinton took more questions from company execs and famous friends, like actress Amy Poehler, than average users of the social network. 

The tonal differences between her earlier memoir "Living History" and "Hard Choices" are striking: One is personal, the other feels professional. "Living History" includes some references to friendships with bold-faced friends like Stevie Wonder and former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, but the majority are private companions, from childhood or early adulthood.

Here’s a list of Hillary Clinton's "friends," along with some of Clinton’s “indispensable partners” and “allies” in rough order of appearance:

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.: “My good friend” who hosted a secret summit between Clinton and Barack Obama after she conceded the Democratic nomination in 2008.
  • Former Ohio Democratic Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones" “My dear friend ... who had resisted intense pressure and stayed by my side throughout the [Democratic] primaries.”
  • Clinton aide Jim Kennedy: “An old friend with a magic touch for evocative language.”
  • Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta: “A valued friend.”
  • President Barack Obama: The two became “good friends” and “partners” after getting past the primary.
  • Eldie Acheson: “My Wellesley classmate and friend,” granddaughter of former secretary of state Dean Acheson.
  • Cheryl Mills: “We had become friends when Cheryl serves as Deputy Counsel in the White House during the 1990s.”
  • Former U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor: “My friend.”
  • Lissa Muscatine: “My friend and a former White House speechwriter, who reprised that role at State.”
  • Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair: “Our old friend.”
  • Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “My longtime friend.”
  • Other former secretaries of state: Warren Christopher “gave me what might be the most practical advice I received;” Henry Kissinger “checked in with me regularly, sharing astute observations;” Colin Powell “provided Candid assessments of individuals and ideas;” George Schultz gave Clinton “the best gift of all: A teddy bear that sang ‘Don’t worry be happy.’”
  • Bill Clinton: “My best friend.”
  • Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi: “She and I embraced like the friends we had become.”
  • Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y.: “My friend.”
  • Late top diplomat Richard Holbrooke: “Our friend.”
  • Former CIA Director Leon Panetta: “My good friend.”
  • Irish politician Sharon Haughey: “An old friend.”
  • Former Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinosa: “One of my favorite colleagues and a good friend.”
  • Chilean President Michelle Bachelet: “She and I became allies and friends.”
  • Japanese Empress Michiko: “Who was delighted that I had decided to make Japan my first stop as Secretary.”
  • Kenyan political activist Wangari Maathai: “I was an fan and a friend.”
  • Nelson Mandela’s wife Graça Machel: “Remarkable ... my friend.”
  • South Africa Minister of International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane: “A strong woman ... who became a friend.”
  • Nelson Mandela: “My old friend” and “a dear friend.” He and Chelsea also “developed a special bond that lasted for the rest of his life.”
  • U2 frontman Bono: “Another friend.”
  • Former Israeli President Shimon Peres: “My old friend.”
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: The two “worked together as partners and friends.”
  • Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin: “My slain friend.”
  • Retired general and former presidential candidate Wesley Clark: “An old friend.”
  • Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd: “My friend.”
  • Clinton aide Maggie Williams: “A close friend and confidante.”
  • Former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband: “An invaluable partner and friend.”
  • Miliband’s successor William Hague: “Also become a close colleague and a good friend.”
  • Former Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner: “An ideal partner in our engagement with China.”
  • Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store: “One of my partners” in addressing climate change.
  • Former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates: “We became allies from the start.”
  • White House national security aide Ben Rhodes: “A strong ally in the White House” on Burma.
  • Then-Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.: “A valuable ally on the ground.”

Clinton also praises Vice President Joe Biden for his “wealth of international experience” along with his “warmth and humor,” though he doesn’t get called a friend. Of Michelle Obama, Clinton writes that the two “bonded over the challenges of raising a family in the public eye.”Countless more aides are singled out for plaudits, while she uses “friend” in the diplomatic context on a number of occasions (speaking as nations, rather than individuals), but the term is mostly reserved for leaders and senior officials. 

Clinton served eight years year in the Senate, where everyone is referred to as “my friend from” whatever state they represent, even when being attacked by their arch-ideological foes.