Questions for Eleanor Clift:
Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON
As one of the best-known liberal journalists in the country, you presumably intended some sort of political message with your new book, “Two Weeks of Life,” a moving account of your husband’s death from
Your husband, Tom Brazaitis, died without fanfare in your living room in Washington — in sharp contrast with
The tone of your book is surprisingly unscreechy, particularly for a panelist on “The McLaughlin Group,” where your most familiar refrain is surely: “Let me finish. Excuse me. Let me finish.” If you didn’t do that, they would roll right over you. I feel as if John McLaughlin gives me more time to speak than he used to because we often agree. The incompetence of the Bush administration has really damaged the Republican brand.
You’re also a columnist for Newsweek, where you first started working as a secretary in the ’60s? That’s how women got into a lot of the professions. I was just glad to be at a place where what I typed was interesting.
* Where are you from? I grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens, and my father had a deli, Roeloffs Deli, in Sunnyside. My mother made the German potato salad, the egg custard and rice pudding, and I didn’t learn any of the recipes. I should have.
Were you a good student? I was. When I was in fifth grade, a teacher, Mrs. Siegerman, told me that I could be a Philadelphia lawyer. I had no idea what that meant.
Whom are you supporting for president? I don’t want to say, because I don’t want to alienate one or the other. I would take either of the Democrats.
But as a feminist who wrote a book with your late husband about the prospect of a
Yes. Hillary called me the day after Tom died, and her first words were, “Oh, Eleanor, oh, oh, oh.” Six weeks go by, and I get a call from her scheduler. They set up lunch, and it was just the two of us. She has a well-deserved reputation for being loyal to people and remembering birthdays and illnesses and all of that.
And after that, you still didn’t vote for her? I vote in the District of Columbia, and I agonized over the vote. President Clinton, in the lead-up to the
Do you find it hard to endure your critics? I just noticed a blog entry that asked, “Could Eleanor Clift be an alien?” Well, that’s funny, and I actually was thrilled when I was the two of diamonds in a deck of cards depicting “the most dangerous liberals.”
* You are rumored to be related to the actor
Why are you so resilient? I’m pretty sane. When I was raising my kids, I used to say that work was therapy for home and home was therapy for work.
But now the children are grown. Do you find it hard to live alone? I have two cats that I got from the Humane Society, which named the mother Precious One and the son Little Tom. I talk to him all the time.
Interview conducted, condensed and edited by DEBORAH SOLOMON. Ver web.