When "Face the Nation" moderator John Dickerson asked Hillary Clinton on Sunday to name three words that describe "the real Hillary Clinton," she spontaneously replied:
"Just three? I can't possibly do that!" Clinton said, letting out a full-HRC laugh, "I mean, look, I am a real person with all the pluses and minuses that go along with being that."
After four decades of being in the public eye, mostly as a public official, can we finally understand that Hillary Clinton is a feeling, fearing human being? And perhaps the Hill-bashers can dial back these fantasies of a feckless, fearless, rock-hard avatar, and listen to what she wants to do if elected as President.
Having worked and traveled with Hillary and her staff during the Clinton Administration, there were certainly times that we saw a brilliant, warm, confident First Lady. But there were also times when she seemed filled with the same self-doubts and self-criticism that all of us "real people" have.
No story was more telling than the morning of January 8, 2008, in the Café Espresso diner in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
As foot soldiers in the 2008 Clinton campaign, some of us trudged at 8am to the local Café, for the opportunity of a sighting with our candidate. At about 9am, as my colleagues and I were moaning about being asked to leave a trailer park by an angry resident who did "not want to hear about that (expletive)", in walked a vibrant, smiling Hillary.
For over an hour, Hillary was The Candidate. She answered, in thorough detail, every question, asked the voters about themselves, and tried to explain why she wanted, and deserved, the most difficult job in the world.
Then came, The Question.
"How do you do it. I mean, how do you wake up every morning and do all of this?" asked a woman.
Hillary paused. Her voice cracked and her eyes appeared bleary.
"It's not easy," she said. "I could not do it if I did not passionately believe it is the right thing to do. I have had so many opportunities from this country. I just do not want us to fall backwards."
Time stood still. For a few seconds, not even the television cameras and reporters moved.
Hillary did not cry that day in New Hampshire. She caught herself. "This is very personal for me, not political," she continued. "I see what is happening and we need to reverse it. It is about our country, about our kids' futures, it is about all of us together... As tired as I am, and I am, I just believe so strongly in who we are as a nation. I'm going to make my case, and then the voters get to decide."
She went on to explain why she continues to absorb the national pastime of Hillary-bashing, to the extent that few of her competitors have, or will, ever been exposed to.
As Hillary spoke that morning in Portsmouth, many of us women of a certain age in the audience thought about how often we had faced a similar double standard as that directed at Hillary. I thought back to the managing partner at a firm I was interviewing for as a 37- year old law student and single mother. He advised me that I did not need a summer job at his firm, I needed a husband. Or the time that I had finally achieved a senior position in a firm, and my wonderful female associate was advised by a male colleague there was no future in working for a woman, as he had more influence in the firm, and started rubbing her neck. Or the happiness that I felt when my daughter graduated from law school, having had to attend four years of night law school with me when she was a young girl, sitting quietly next to me until we could go home at 8pm.
In campaign 2016, some things have changed, many have not. Hillary has served as a U.S. Senator and the U.S. Secretary of State, helping thousands, maybe millions, of people to create, reconstruct, and resurrect their lives. And yet people keep asking, who is this woman?
Returning to Portsmouth at midnight on primary election night 2008, we stopped at a convenience store. The woman behind the counter saw my Hillary buttons and asked what happened.
"She won!" I exclaimed.
The woman's face lit up: "I got up early to vote for her, but I work two jobs, I'm a single mom, and I don't have time to watch television. I don't know why on earth Hillary wants to do this. But I know if she wins, we will have at least one real person in Washington, D.C."
Judith Barnett is a lawyer/ international trade consultant representing global companies in the Middle East. She is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce, a media expert, and adjunct law professor.