BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Hillary Rodham Clinton, author of "It Takes A Village," what did your mother teach you about raising children?
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:Oh, she gave me such a good example. My mother, as I write in the book, did not have a traditional upbringing. She was born to a 15-year-old mother and a 17-year-old father and their marriage didn't last. And she was sent off to live with her grandparents. And that was a very harsh atmosphere. But somehow, through her own personal will and strength, and because of others along the way -- teachers and relatives -- and when she was 14, she went to work in another woman's house, taking care of that woman's children and that woman served as an example of a mother. She summoned it all up, and she was loving, attentive, involved, caring, gave us a great start in our lives.
LAMB: How about your dad?
CLINTON:My dad had a different kind of upbringing. He came from an immigrant family. Both of his parents had come to this country as young children. They were very intent upon working hard. His father went to work when he was 11 in the lace mills in Scranton and his mother was a very strong-willed woman. One of the things that I have learned in the last several years is that his mother, my formidable grandmother, who died when I was quite young, insisted always on using her maiden name as well, Hannah Jones Rodham. So I was very surprised to learn that that back at the turn of the century she was someone who stood up for herself and made her views known.
And my father had great upbringing. He went to school in Scranton. He went to Penn State, where he played football. And I think, for him, having a family and being committed to taking care of them, coming out of the World War II, Depression generation, was what he thought he should do and he did it very well.
LAMB: Were you born in Park Ridge, Illinois?
CLINTON: I was born in Chicago. That's where my parents were living when I was born.
LAMB: How long did you live in Park Ridge?
CLINTON: Well, we moved there when I was about four. And my parents moved to Arkansas to be with us after my father had his first stroke back in '87, so they lived there for 37 years.
LAMB: What did both of them do for a living?
CLINTON: My mother was a homemaker, and my father had a small business that printed and sold draperies. He was usually the only paid employee but he sometimes had day labor that he hired. He became very close to one man who became kind of a continuing employee. But my mother would help out, my brothers and I would help out.
LAMB: You had two brothers?
CLINTON: Yes. Two younger brothers.
LAMB: Hugh and Tony?
CLINTON: That's right.
LAMB: How much younger were they than you?
CLINTON: Well, Hugh was four years younger and Tony was seven years younger.
LAMB: How'd you get along with them?
CLINTON: Well, I think that they would say that when I wasn't bossing them around and being their intolerable big sister, we got along pretty well.
LAMB: Did your parents treat them any differently than they did you?
CLINTON: I think that, as I said in the book, my father was harder on them. My father had two brothers. He was a real, you know, man's man. He was an athlete and he was a guy who didn't talk a lot and wasn't into, you know, reading books very much, unlike my mother. And so I think he was much harder on my brothers because he really didn't know what to do with me. I mean, both my parents were so encouraging of me, telling me that I could do whatever I want. There were never any distinctions made between boys and girls. If my father was throwing pass patterns around our elm trees, I ran with the boys just as everybody else in the neighborhood did. But he was, I think, a much more demanding father for my brothers.
LAMB: How did you raise Chelsea different than you were raised?
CLINTON: Well, actually, I've struggled to raise her in the same way, despite the difference in circumstances. You know, we had a very middle-class normal upbringing, my brothers and I. We were lucky to live in a great suburb with great schools. We could come and go because it was a safe neighborhood. So it's not only the differences that all of us face today that make me sad because my child's life is not as free and independent as I was able to be, but certainly my husband being a governor and now president makes it quite different. So I have to struggle all the time to make her life as normal and -- by my definition of normal, I fall back on my upbringing.
LAMB: There is a part in the book where you say that -- I think -- correct me if I'm wrong, that Chelsea wanted to ride her bicycle and you broke down in tears for what reason?
CLINTON: Well, she was about nine, and she and a little friend had been riding around the grounds of the governor's mansion, and they came running in and they wanted to ride their bikes down to the library, which was about 10 blocks away. And I just did that -- I got tears in my eyes because nearly every day in the summertime, I'd ride my bike to the library, to the pool, to play with my friends. And my mother would say, "Be home in time for dinner," and nobody worried about me. And I had these two little girls, and I had to tell them no, I didn't feel comfortable. And it wasn't because her daddy was the governor. It was because they were two little girls living in the downtown area of Little Rock, Arkansas, which is, you know, not as safe as it should be or that it used to be. And that just made me very sad. It's one of those moments as a mother that gave me a great deal of regret, that we have not taken care of our society in a way that would enable my daughter to be as free as I was.
LAMB: Chelsea is brought up in here a lot and I know that you also write about protecting her from the public light. Did you have to make a decision to even put her in the book? Was that hard to do?
CLINTON: It was really hard to do, Brian. I mean, this book is kind of a hybrid. I mean, it's not a memoir by any means, but it does rely on my personal experiences both as a daughter and a mother, as well as my work as an advocate and the experts whom I know trying to get their information out to the public. So I made the decision that I did have to include her. But I was very careful about how I talked about her. And I cleared everything with her. I didn't want her to feel that I was either breaching any confidence or, you know, giving her an uncomfortable moment as a teen-ager by talking about her.
LAMB: What's it like raising her in the White House?
CLINTON: Well, it's been a real challenge. But it's something that I probably spent more time on before we moved here than anything else. I had a great conversation -- actually two of them with Jackie Kennedy Onassis about raising children in the public eye. I talked with other people. I read a lot of the press coverage of children who were in the White House. And that led both Bill and me to make some decisions about how we would refer to her even, how we would talk about her in public. And, really, we pled, and I think I'm very grateful that it was so positively received with the press, just to give her as much space and privacy as they could.
LAMB: Why do you think they do?
CLINTON: I think that there are a lot of people who are around our age raising children in the press and I believe that they know what they go through. Because if you're, you know, a journalist who's on television or who's well known because of what you write, that gives you a taste of how your children can be drawn into your own career. And certainly it's much more dramatic where we live, but I think they had a certain sympathy and empathy with that.
LAMB: You also tell a story in the book about how you and the president, when he was governor, warned her about the awful things that were going to be said about both of you -- or at least him, at the time...
CLINTON: At the time, it was just him.
LAMB: ...and that she got upset.
CLINTON: Yes. Well...
LAMB: Has she been upset lately?
CLINTON: I think we've worked at this so long that certainly she gets a little frustrated and concerned as would be natural. But starting when she was about six, as I do tell in the book, I realized that even though her dad had been in politics since she was born, she'd been oblivious to it, she couldn't read, she didn't follow the news. But now that she was reading and in school that that was going to be different. So Bill and I talked about it and we thought we should try to prepare her. I think that children deserve to have as much information as they're ready to receive at the age that they are.
So at dinner we told her that her daddy was going to be running for re-election as governor, and that in elections people said mean things about each other. And we didn't want her to be surprised. And they sometimes told stories about each other. And she was very upset at first, but we have continued to kind of work with her. And we're always talking with her and asking her if she has any questions. So it's never easy and it's always painful. It's hard, not only my daughter, but on my mother, on other people who care about us. And we do our best to reassure them and to let them know that unfortunately this is part of the process.
LAMB: You say also that you like to have at least one meal together a day. How often do you get that done?
CLINTON: We get that done every day we're in town. And it's usually dinner. And we sit around and we talk about, you know, just what families talk about -- what's going on and how school was and where we might go if we can get a few days off, or what is happening with friends. But we try so hard to do that. And it's been something that we've tried all through her life and will keep up as long as we can.
LAMB: You have a chapter on watching television.
CLINTON: Right. I am...
CLINTON: I just don't think there is any doubt that when I think about the difference in the way I was raised or Bill was raised and the way life was back in the '50s, which a lot of people have a great nostalgia for today, that the single biggest difference is the role of television in our lives. And it's not only the content, which does disturb me, it's also the process of television watching, the amount of hours that so many children spend; what it takes them away from doing; the passivity of it; and the instant gratification that it provides. You know, I say in the book that when you have a two- or three-year-old all of a sudden being able to control a remote control device and never having to work at play the way that we did or the kind of frustrating experiences you go through when you're a young child, but just sit there and passively be entertained, it changes the way children learn.
LAMB: Let me quote from your own book, you say -- well, this is not that big a quote, it says, "Eighty percent of Americans responding to a 1993 Times-Mirror poll said that they believe TV is harmful to society." Do you think that's true?
CLINTON: I think it's true. And I think most people believe it's true but people feel helpless in the face of it. And I tried in the book to give just some suggestions about what parents could do, what communities could do so that we take back authority in our own homes as against the television and the popular culture it represents.
LAMB: Why do you think it's harmful?
CLINTON: I think we have sufficient evidence now, and there have been a number of studies. They haven't gotten as much publicity as I would like. Newton Minow does a wonderful job of summarizing a lot of what we know about the affects of television. And we know that television has desensitized children to violence. Now, clearly, if you come from an unstructured family with a lot of problems to start with, you're going to be more affected than somebody who comes from a more stable environment, but all children are affected. And it's not just boys where there's been an increase in aggressive acting out, it's girls as well. We know that the consumer culture and the kind of manipulation of children that is done even in their own television shows, particularly on commercial television, has had an impact. We know if you compare watching public broadcasting and the educational programming that appears there with children who watch only commercial broadcasting, the children who watch educational programming are better prepared for academic challenges. There are many ways that we know television has impacted kids.
LAMB: "I restricted both the amount and the kind of television Chelsea watched as a child, and even now, we check up from time to time on her TV."
CLINTON: I do.
LAMB: How do you do that?
CLINTON: Well, we don't have the same kind of control that we used to have when she was smaller. But we, from a very early age, were very careful about what she watched and equally concerned about how much she watched. We didn't let her just plop down in front of the television set. We tried to keep her active doing other things. And, you know, now I'll kind of cruise through her room, see if she's watching TV, number one, and kind of check in on what she's watching. But mostly it's by talking with her now. You know, what does she think about certain programs? How does she evaluate them?
In the book I talk about how important it is for parents to be active viewers with their children. We're all going to watch television. You know, Bill and Chelsea and I watch television together. But we try to talk about what television is; how it's very implausible in so many respects. It is drama. You don't solve human problems in, you know -- What is it? -- 27 minutes plus commercials, to try to give children the capacity to separate what they see on television from what we hope they'll see in real life.
LAMB: Why do you think people in the business who obviously have children in the family and all that have done this? Why do you think they sell this stuff?
CLINTON: Well, you know, in the book I talk about how when we drive by an accident on the road, we all watch. We know we shouldn't. I mean, we're all rubbernecking. We have people telling us to move on, don't block the traffic. And it's as though we have a thoroughfare of accidents. It is something that we're compelled to look at. I mean, that's human nature.
I don't fault people who are in the business to make money for doing what will draw viewers. But I think it's time for all of us to say, both as viewers, that we have to exercise more self-control and responsibility at least as it affects children, but also programmers, that let's be honest and admit that we have affected how children think of themselves, how they view society. That should not be debatable anymore, and that maybe then programmers can make some more responsible decisions. The president's having a meeting with the major programmers to talk about what can be done on a voluntary basis. The V-chip was passed in the telecommunications bills. That's going to need a ratings system. So I think we are beginning to move in the right direction to reassert responsibility.
LAMB: This is from your book: "I'll bet that if a stranger came into your home and began telling your kids stories about the same kinds of characters and events using the same kinds of words and pictures, you'd throw him out."
CLINTON: I believe that. I think that we let television get away with so much more than we permit real people in person to get away with. And when you think about the language, you think about the explicit sexuality, you think about the constant violence. I don't think there's any doubt we wouldn't put up with it in person. We'd walk away from it, or as I say, we'd throw somebody out of our house.
LAMB: Where is this picture on the back of the book taken?
CLINTON: That's in the backyard of the White House, yes.
LAMB: Who are the kids?
CLINTON: The kids are from a school nearby and this was the day we had Big Bird and Sesame Street characters as well as other public broadcasting characters -- because there's a study I talk about in the book that was done at the University of Kansas looking at the effects of public broadcasting compared to commercial broadcasting. And the kids were all there and we just had a great time. Socks, I must admit, was the main attraction after Big Bird.
LAMB: When did you first say to yourself, "I want to write a book?"
CLINTON: Oh, I've thought about it for a long time, but I actually took it seriously when the publisher came to see me, Carolyn Reedy, who's the publisher and president of the trade division at Simon & Schuster, and Rebecca Salotan, the editor. They had published my mother-in-law's book, which is a marvelous book, "Leading with My Heart." And Becky Salotan had been the editor. And they showed up and said, "Have you thought about writing a book?" And I said, "I've thought about it, but it's not anything I've taken seriously." And we began to talk a year ago January.
LAMB: How did you go about it?
CLINTON: Oh, it was something that I thought was going to be a lot easier than it turned out to be. The original plan was for me to just sit down and talk and have the conversations transcribed and then to have some research done and some help sort of editing the transcriptions and basically for that to be the book. I found out that did not work for me. I'm just someone who has to sit down and think hard about what I want to say. And it takes me many drafts. I had to do it in longhand because my computers skills were not up to the task that I'd undertaken. So it took about a year to do.
LAMB: There are 18 chapters, and at the beginning of each chapter, you have a quote in ...
LAMB: ... all the way from Lady Bird Johnson, John Silver to, let's see, Booker T. Washington.
LAMB: Some of them are still alive and with us and they're here today. How did you go about choosing these quotes?
CLINTON: Well, I started with a collection of quotes that I've had for a long time and I went through those, but I found I had to expand. And one of my favorite times was sitting reading quote books, which I did for hours on end, looking for exactly the right quote to fit the meaning that I wanted to give it, to capt ...
LAMB: What's your favorite one of all of these?
CLINTON: You know, there are a lot that are my favorite. Probably, if I can read it so that I don't misquote it, the Verna Kelley quote at the beginning of No Family is an Island. "Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things but just look what they can [do] when they stick together." I just love that quote and the book came out in January when we were in the midst of our great Blizzard of '96, so it seemed particularly apt.
LAMB: How about the size of the book and what you wanted to cover? I get a sense, as I read it, that you would go alternately between children and politics.
CLINTON: Well, it's filled was a lot of my views about how children and political decisions intersect, because I do think that all of us in whatever role we're in have a responsibility for children. And I don't just mean electoral politics. I mean, politics with a small P: how we organize ourselves in neighborhoods and communities and churches and businesses and schools. But the book size was suggested by the publisher and I really like it because it's sort of a handy size to carry around. I learned a lot about publishing. For example, the number of pages in the book meant that if I had added one more page, they would have had to add, I think, 16 more pages because of the way that books are put together. So the size really was perfect for what I wanted to convey.
LAMB: What didn't you get in you wanted in?
CLINTON: Oh, listen, my hardest part was cutting back. I had so many more examples that I wanted in and more stories that I had in. My editor was wonderful in helping me get it down to a manageable size. It could have been hundreds of more pages long if I had my way.
LAMB: Why no index?
CLINTON: Partly because it wasn't meant as a textbook. It was really meant more as a kind of meditation, if you will, about my work for the last 25 years, about children. And also I was running very late. The index would have meant that it would have been held up even longer. And since I was months over the deadline that I'd originally set, that was something we just didn't have time for.
LAMB: As you know, it's been written many times, criticism of not giving credit to the person that helped you on this, if there was one person. In the back you say, "They are so numerous that I will not even attempt to acknowledge them individually for fear that I might leave someone out."
LAMB: What do you think of the criticism and does some one human being deserve credit for having done a lot of the work on this?
CLINTON: Well, many human beings do. That was my problem. I had so much help, both directly -- on hands, I had friends who read every word with great care and critiqued it. And I would -- literally, I started making a list. I had 60 names and I was nowhere near done. And I just threw up my hands and I said, "I can't do this," because I was afraid I would leave somebody out. It wasn't only the direct help, it was the indirect help. There were so many people in that book who talked to me on the telephone, whom I have yet to meet, others who have influenced me for more than 20 years. I thought it was the fairest way to basically thank everybody who'd helped me.
LAMB: What do you think of the criticism of the one person that supposedly was paid by Simon & Schuster to spend time with you and didn't get credit? Was that...
CLINTON: Well, I thanked her for what she did for me. She worked for me for a number of months. She did not work the entire project and I was grateful for the assistance she gave me.
LAMB: In the book on page 148, you have a rhyme. And you say, "As I was standing in the street, as quiet as could be, a great, big ugly man came up and tied his horse to me."
LAMB: And then you go on with a couple of sentences. "I thought often of that rhyme during our first year in the White House. My father died, our dear friend Vince Foster killed himself, my mother-in-law lost her battle against breast cancer and my husband and I were attacked daily from all directions by people trying to score political points." Go back to this rhyme. "As I was standing in the street, as quiet as could be, a big, ugly man came up and tied his horse to me." Where did you get that?
CLINTON: That was in one of Chelsea's nursery rhyme books. We tried to read to her every night, and she had this wonderful book of nonsense rhymes and that was the prominent one. It was on the cover. We must have read that at least 100,000 times and it served as a way of explaining to a child and then later to myself how, you know, things happen in life and you can't always predict what's going to happen. What should have been the most wonderful year of our lives, with my husband being inaugurated president, had a lot of personal grief and sorrow attached to it. And that's the way life is. It's not predictable.
LAMB: What was the impact of your father's death?
CLINTON: Oh, I think it was rather dramatic and significant on me, personally. I think that we were certainly exhausted from the '92 campaign. We didn't take any time off. We went right into the president's preparation for the transition then right into the inaugural. And then all of a sudden my father was struck by a fatal stroke and we were with him in the hospital for two weeks or so before he died. And I think it just was so much. When I look back on it now and I think of the entire time period, both the period of '92 during the campaign, which was so intense, and then that first year, '93, there was just a lot that happened. And starting that year off with the wonder of the inauguration and then just a few months later my father's death was, you know, very difficult.
LAMB: What did you do about the impact on someone like Chelsea? I mean, did you deal with that directly?
CLINTON: Oh, sure. She came with me for the first week. We took her out of school. My brothers were there most of the time as well. Certainly my mother was there every hour. So she was a part of that and I thought that was important for her to be with us as a family and to be with her grandfather, who never regained consciousness adequately enough to really recognize any of us. After the first day or two, we just didn't think he even knew we were there. But we were there together, and I thought that was important.
LAMB: You say, and I think it's the 16th chapter, "My father distrusted both big business and big government."
LAMB: Now that sounds like some of the populists running for president today.
CLINTON: Well, I think that's a very common strain in American life and certainly that's the way my father felt and the way he talked about both government and business, that there needed to be restraints on both, which is what I believe. I think that you can't let either government or business have too much control or authority or be left unchecked or we will rue the day. And I think that there's been a constant struggle in American history between those two forces.
LAMB: Did your mother and father think alike, politically?
CLINTON: No. I don't believe so. My father was raised a Republican, very strongly so. My mother was always more Democratic leaning. My father was very concerned, I think, more with the fact that my husband was a Democrat than that he was from the South or a Southern Baptist or anything else about him. But my father also changed his views as he got older and began to moderate them somewhat as well and, of course, supported my husband wholeheartedly.
LAMB: Can you remember when you first got interested in -- first political thing in your life?
CLINTON: You know, it goes so far back because my father was so interested. Around the dinner table, he'd talk about politics. He'd talk about what was going on. We followed the news, we read the newspaper, we had family discussions. So it goes way, way back. Probably the first thing that I did actively on a national level was when I was a Goldwater girl in 1964 and my father was a staunch Republican. He supported Barry Goldwater, he admired his beliefs, and so I participated for the very first time at that level.
LAMB: What was next?
CLINTON: Oh, probably -- actually, let me take that back. The first was the presidential election in 1960 between Nixon and Kennedy. My father was a staunch Nixon supporter and...
LAMB: What was your mom?
CLINTON: My mother didn't ever say that she had voted for President Kennedy, but I have a sneaking suspicion she might well have. But she didn't tell my father that. So that during the early 1960s, we were constantly talking about politics in my family. What was next was probably going to college and becoming involved in politics. I started off as a Young Republican. I was president of the Wellesley College Young Republicans. And then I began to read more and study more and decided that I had to spend some time thinking about my own political beliefs. So I actually withdrew as president of the Young Republicans at that time.
LAMB: So it happened as you're involved in ...
LAMB: Was there a moment that you said, "I just don't belong here?"
CLINTON: No. It was more of an evolution. It probably started back in high school. I had an excellent government teacher. And we had mock debates and I was, as I said, a Goldwater girl. But my government teacher made me represent President Johnson and made one of my friends, who was a staunch Democrat, one of the few in my big high school, speak on behalf of Barry Goldwater. So that meant I had to go and I had to study all these positions and I had to learn things from a different point of view, not just what my father had said or what my community believed. And that opened me up to looking at things from a different point of view.
And I think -- I've always had this mixture of politics. People try to pigeonhole me as they do everybody in public life and say, "Well, we know she's a --" fill in the blank. But it's always more complicated than that, and I think that my father's emphasis on individual responsibility -- what I viewed as a lot of the conservative beliefs that I was raised with, that I think have been abandoned by many who call themselves Republicans, are still very much a part of how I view politics today.
LAMB: You say in the book you met Martin Luther King once.
CLINTON: I did.
LAMB: How old were you?
CLINTON: I think I was 14 or 15.
LAMB: What do you remember about that?
CLINTON: I remember that it was my youth minister who in our Methodist youth meetings had been talking about civil rights and the challenges it presented to a Christian who took us -- a group of us down to the Orchestra Hall in Chicago where we heard Dr. King speak. And then we waited until everybody else was gone and we had a chance to shake his hand. I remember being very impressed. I remember the presence and the dignity that he had. And I remember, particularly, how he was taking his religion and trying to make it live in the political process, which I thought was very interesting. And certainly we have seen a lot of that in the last 30 years.
LAMB: Do you remember another political figure, maybe an elected official, that you met as your first national figure?
CLINTON: I met Barry Goldwater. That was the first national figure that I'd ever met.
LAMB: What do you remember about that experience?
CLINTON: Well, he was such an energetic person. We were out at some stop that he made and those of us who were Goldwater girls got a chance to shake his hand. And I enjoyed meeting him.
LAMB: Do you have a model of how you treat other people based on something you either learned and experienced where you said, "I'm never going to be like that," or "I am going to be like that when I'm in a position like you're in"?
CLINTON: Oh, I think I've drawn from a lot of different people. I've been lucky in the last 20 years to meet many people in public life, both here and around the world. And I admire people who try to be the same in public and in private, who try to be respectful of people, who listen to people, who don't discount others because of their points of view. And that's pretty much the model I've try to follow.
LAMB: I don't know whether you can do this or not but I -- in the book you mention you knew Sam Walton.
LAMB: And if I remember right, you were on the Wal-Mart board.
CLINTON: That's right.
LAMB: But you were also on the Children's Defense Fund board.
LAMB: What are the different atmospheres, walking into those two different situations, that you had to deal with?
CLINTON: That's interesting. You know, Brian, picking those two -- they were much more alike than other situations I've been in and -- let me see if I can describe that.
LAMB: And what years did you do this?
CLINTON: Well, the Children's Defense Fund board, I was on for 20 years. I went to work for Marian Wright Edelman right out of law school. In fact, I worked for her during summers in law school. And then when I moved to Arkansas, I went on her board and stayed on the board until I moved into the White House. There was an atmosphere of debate and concern and intense -- I guess ...
LAMB: How big was the board?
CLINTON: The board -- 12, 15, 18 people. But there was an atmosphere of real give and take. People wanted to be involved. They cared about the issues greatly. Marian was a strong leader, is a strong leader and wanted to know what other people think, would sit and listen.
First time I walked into a Wal-Mart board meeting, Sam Walton said, "I want to hear from all the outside directors. What's going on? What do you think's happening? Tell me what you think." And he went around and asked each one of us what we saw happening in the world. He also was a strong, charismatic leader, but he was always asking questions. He always wanted to know how to do things better. In a funny way, I see similarities between them. They both have built extraordinary institutions that, in their own ways, are unique and have made lasting contributions to our country. And so a superficial glance might say, "Well, what would this conservative, entrepreneur, Sam Walton, have in common with this passionate child advocate, Marian Edelman?" And yet I saw these two people as tremendous examples of what you can do if you really set your mind to it.
LAMB: You say some things in here about corporations and CEOs and -- for instance, you point out that in 1974 the CEO of a large corporation typically made 35 times what an average factory worker earned. In 1993, CEOs almost made 150 times the average factory worker's wage. Does that bother you?
CLINTON: It bothers me a lot. I mean, I think that leaders in our country, and that's not just political leaders -- because I believe, actually, on a day-to-day basis, business leaders have much more of an effect on how people live their lives than the government does have to be more willing to identify with people who are working, have to be more respectful of the struggles that people who are trying to make a living in today's economy face. And I just don't think it's right that in the last 20 years corporate executives have profited personally so much when the average worker in America, both in factory work and in service industries and white-collar work, have seen their wages and benefits basically stagnate. I don't think that's good for the economy.
Put aside all of the ethical, moral, social reasons why I don't think it's good. I don't think it's good for the economy. You know, Henry Ford paid his workers the unheard of wage of $5 an hour because he knew it was smart business. Because if you don't pay people and reflect their contributions to your profitability and what they receive, they're not going to be able to continue to buy your goods and services. I think we've reached a point in our country where more business leaders need to understand that what was good for Henry Ford at the beginning of this century is good for them. And we have to share the fruits of our productivity increases, our ability to compete in the global economy more fairly -- not with just those at the top, but with everybody throughout the organization.
LAMB: How long were you on that Wal-Mart board?
CLINTON: I think I was on either five or six years.
LAMB: There's a quote here. I want to ask you if you agree with this. This is from Alan Arenhault, author of "The Lost City" -- you put it in your book. "The unfettered free market has been the most radically disruptive force in American life in the last generation."
CLINTON: I believe that. That's why I put it in the book. I think if you look at the argument we've had in our political life in the last several years, it's been a false debate. We've pitted the government against everything else. Well, I don't believe the government has had as big an impact as commercial television, as a lot of the decisions made in the marketplace about how we're going to pay and compensate people, about downsizing corporations and making workers more insecure. And I just believe that there's got to be a healthy tension among all of our institutions in society, and that the market is the driving force behind our prosperity, our freedom in so many respects to make our lives our own but that it cannot be permitted just to run roughshod over people's lives as well.
LAMB: When you were sitting on that board, did you ever have to deal with this kind of thing?
CLINTON: Well, one of the things that Sam Walton believed in was profit sharing. I mean, part of the reason that I appreciated his business philosophy is that the workers at Wal-Mart were able to share in the profits, and the executives, when I was on the board, were very careful to keep their perks down -- the kind of offices they had, the way that they lived and the way that they treated their fellow associates at every level in the business. I thought that was a good example.
LAMB: There's a bunch of underlining I did about -- and I'll read just some of this stuff. "There are few voices arguing for more government -- our skepticism toward government, the emphasis it places on personal responsibility from all citizens. Americans do not favor a radical dismantling of government." I can go on with this, but how far should the government go in raising kids?
CLINTON: It shouldn't. It can't. There's no way government can raise kids. But government can do things that help support parents who are raising kids, and government can also be the safety net for the poor and vulnerable children who, for whatever combination of reasons, are not being adequately cared for by their own parents. So that -- for example, the Congress sets the minimum wage. It should be raised. It's not high enough. You cannot support a family on what is currently paid on the minimum wage. The government also has a responsibility to ensure that older people and younger people, in particular, get the health care they need. That's why we should not be thinking about dismantling Medicare and Medicaid but should be looking at ways of making it more efficient and effective.
So there are many examples of where what government does has a big impact. And it's not just on the poor and the vulnerable. Government also determines what kind of atmosphere my child's going to live in -- and I mean that literally. Is the water going to be clean? Is the air going to be fit to breathe? We've made tremendous progress through environmental regulations in the last 20 years. We can now, you know, swim and fish in rivers and lakes that before were so polluted they were literally on fire. The government is the only institution capable of reining in unruly businesses that put profits ahead of people's health, and that's the kind of thing government has a role in.
LAMB: Based on all your experience with all these things we've been talking about, and if you were no longer first lady and you could make a choice of what you wanted to do in this society that you'd like to try, what is it?
CLINTON: Well, I'd like to do full-time what I did for 25 years part-time, which is to be a voice for children, and to do it in a way that tries to bring people together, to build a consensus. I think if you scrape away the far ends of the political debate, you find most people clustered around the middle, worrying about their children's future, trying to figure out how to make their schools more effective, trying to think about how to control television and these other things we've discussed. And I really believe that there is an opportunity now for people to get beyond partisan arguments and ideology, to say, "What works for kids?"
The divorce debate -- for a long time I've been advocating that divorce should be more difficult when you have children. That's not a conservative or a liberal or a Republican or a Democratic issue. We now know that divorce hurts kids. So what can we do as adults either to slow it down or, if it is going to occur, to make its impact as limited as possible on the well-being of children. That's the kind of discussion I would like to be -- have a role in helping bring about in our country.
LAMB: How do you change the divorce laws? I mean, how do you slow that down?
CLINTON: Well, I talk about, perhaps, braking mechanism -- you know, making it a little harder, a little longer for people with children to divorce, requiring mandatory counseling and education so that parents, if they can't get back together and work out their own differences, perhaps can understand more clearly why using children as pawns in debates over property and support is terrible for kids, and coming to some understanding about how they can, together, help raise their children even after a divorce.
LAMB: You talk about both the French and the Germans...
LAMB: ...as having some things that are better than what we do here.
CLINTON: And other cultures as well.
LAMB: How about the Germans?
CLINTON: Well, I am a fan of a lot of the social policies that you find in Europe, and I know that they, too, are going through a rethinking about how to afford some of their policies. But in my conversations with people like Chancellor [Helmut] Kohl or President [Jacque] Chirac, they are not talking about cutting back on their support for families to the extent that they are talking about doing some other things that would free up some dollars for the economy. That's because they see raising children as a social obligation, not just a parental obligation, even though parents have the primary responsibility, so that the kind of leave policies that they have for employees, particularly young mothers taking care of babies -- the health-care policy in Germany that is a public-private mixture is something that I think is worth looking at.
The visiting nurses program in England where people come into the home to try to make sure the parents know what they're doing, and that's for everybody from Princess Di down to a single teen-age mother. There's just more of a recognition that the entire society has a stake in making sure parents do as good a job as they can.
LAMB: Did you -- and we talked a little bit about Wellesley and also Yale Law School and all -- did you travel much before you...
CLINTON: No. No, I didn't. I mean, I traveled just a little bit before Bill was President, but I never had the opportunity to travel as much. So for me this has been a real eye-opening experience, and as I say, I've seen things in cultures as far away as Indonesia and Chile that I think would be useful here in our own country.
And I know Americans often believe we don't have much to learn from other cultures, but I would like to see that change so that we at least evaluate what other cultures have done and look at the results. We have such a high level of divorce, we have a high level of violence within the home and outside the home. Clearly there are some things we could be doing better and maybe some lessons we could learn.
LAMB: You say that the 21st century will be a century of biology.
CLINTON: Yes, I believe that.
LAMB: What do you mean?
CLINTON: Well, I think just as the 20th century opened space and opened the molecule to us as a century of physics, we now know a lot more about biology and I'm particularly concerned that we apply the lessons that we learn to raising children. I have a whole chapter in there about the lessons that biology -- particular molecular biology -- is teaching us. I would like to see an end to the nature-nurture debate, to genetics vs. environment. It is both. We clearly come equipped with our own genetic background. But how that is played, just as an orchestra, depends upon what happens after we come into this world. So that if we try to take the lessons we now have from biology and apply them in parenting, apply them in education, we could do a lot better job in how we treat children and how we help train children from the very beginning of their lives.
LAMB: Do you ever get tired of doing this?
CLINTON: Talking about this, no. I don't get tired about it. I get, sometimes, a little frustrated, because I see such a disconnect between, for example, what science and research now knows about raising children and what we do in our own homes as well as in our public debates and in business policies.
LAMB: Let me re-ask you, do you ever get tired when somebody comes in and says to you, "Mrs. Clinton, you've got another three interviews to do today on this book." I mean, do you say, "I can't talk this anymore"?
CLINTON: No, but I do lose my voice from time to time, as I struggle with even in this interview, but, no, I don't get tired about that, Brian.
LAMB: In the book, you name a lot of people and a lot of companies and all and one person you name is Daniel...
CLINTON: ...Goldman. Right.
LAMB: ...Goldman's emotional intelligence book...
LAMB: ...which is one of the best sellers. Do you ever worry that you're endorsing something that might come back and hit you in the face?
CLINTON: I tried very hard -- and the young woman who was my researcher worked very hard to make sure that nothing would come back and bite me. I tried to learn as much as I could. I read Daniel Goldman's book in galleys. I thought it was a brilliant book, would make a great contribution to what we knew. And frankly, I was concerned it wouldn't make the best-seller list, which was one of the reasons why I talked about it, because I wanted people to read it. So I'm sure that there are ways you can criticize anything, but I tried to use examples that have really stood up to scrutiny.
LAMB: What do you find when you are out in the public gets the most response? I mean, when you speak, what -- I don't want to use techniques, but what do people respond to?
CLINTON: Several things. A lot of people who are on the front lines taking care of kids -- teachers, pediatricians and nurses, social workers, others -- are pleased that I'm talking about issues that they talk about and giving them some validation for the work that they try to do every day. There are a lot of people, particularly parents, who share my concern that we're not, as a society, doing what we should for children and so they're very open to talking about what works in homes. They want to know about the research that demonstrates clearly that talking to your baby really pays off. That's still something a lot of people don't know. Reading to your baby is one of the best investments you can make, so that I get different responses depending upon the audiences that I speak to.
LAMB: Has your mom read this?
CLINTON: Oh, my mom has read it, yes. Her favorite chapter is the chapter about religion. She really liked that one more than anything.
CLINTON: I think because, as I quote her in -- I asked her what she thought was the essence of religious teaching, and she said, "A sense of the good." And she really believes that if more people, both because of the way they were raised and because of the messages our society sends out, had some sense of themselves as good and some value for themselves, as well as respecting other people, we'd solve a lot of our problems. It wouldn't be a business policy or a government policy, it would come from within.
LAMB: What about the reviews? What about all the stories that are coming out? I can remember one story we talked about on the morning show one day, "Hillary Clinton spends $54,000 of taxpayer money to fly somewhere to do her book thing."
LAMB: Now what's your answer to that?
CLINTON: Well, I regret it. I wish it didn't happen. The Secret Service made a very strong recommendation that for security reasons I had to fly on a military plane, which is what I usually fly on for other functions. Mrs. Bush had to when she was flying around on many occasions. I wish our society was not like that. I would love to go and, you know, get on an airplane and talk to people and find out what's going on. Occasionally, I can get a train ride because they take over the whole car of the train that I'm on. I really wish we didn't have to worry about security so much.
LAMB: "We were not subjected to a daily diet of second guessing and cynicism about the motives and actions of every leader and institution." You're talking about past.
CLINTON: Yes, I am. I'm talking about growing up in the 1950s and even the early 1960s. You know, we could look at President Eisenhower and, you know, be so proud he was our president. You know, there were some little scandals that would come and go, people taking coats or refrigerators or whatever, but it wasn't a steady diet of second guessing. We could actually hear from the president. He could make his statements, and we could judge for ourselves, much as what you do on C-SPAN. We didn't have two seconds of the president and 20 minutes of analysis by other people. I think that as many political scientists are now pointing out, particularly Thomas Paterson in his book, "Out of Order" -- what we've done to ourselves by the way we cover leaders has been a great disservice to democracy.
I'm all for absolute freedom of the press, people getting in there and rooting around to find out what they think is important. I just think that sometimes we're out of balance about what really is important. And it's very difficult to expect people to cherish a democracy where they're the primary decision makers when, day in and day out, they're told it doesn't work, they're told that the people they vote for or that they see on television have X, Y and Z problems. You know, we're only human and, by any standard American politics, if you go back and look through the generations or even the millennia, is honest and hard-working and straight forward. And, of course, as my father was, you have to be skeptical, you have to ask questions. But if you do it to the exclusion of engaging in what the people who are running for office and holding office have to say, and if you're constantly denigrating people, I don't think it's good for the long-term prospects of our democracy.
LAMB: You know, a lot of people say that we partially became cynical after Vietnam, and then after Watergate.
LAMB: And you were right in the middle of that one.
CLINTON: I was. And there was good reason for being cynical. But I also think you can't keep fighting the last war. Everything is not the Vietnam War; everything is not Watergate. And maybe it just takes a while for people to catch up with what currently is going on. But many changes were made because of those two experiences in our nation's history.
LAMB: I can ask you this because it's public. I mean, how old were you when you were on the Watergate committee.
CLINTON: Well, let's see. I was 20 -- probably 26 and 27.
LAMB: And just graduate ...
CLINTON: Twenty-six, I guess.
LAMB: And just graduated from Yale Law School.
CLINTON: Right. I was just kind of a grunt. I was, along with, four, I guess, other Yale graduates, recommended for the job and we did -- we worked 18, 20 hours a day.
LAMB: Who did you work for?
CLINTON: Well, we all worked for John Doar and then the other senior attorneys who were on the staff.
LAMB: What do you remember about that?
CLINTON: I remember how respectful and careful the investigation was. John Doar made it absolutely clear that nobody could have any preconceived notions, that no one was to draw any conclusions, that no one was to talk to the press. He got very upset with me one day because I went as the junior lawyer on a matter to a hearing, and at the end of it, some reporter came up and asked me a question which I didn't answer, but the very fact that I was asked upset him because he just thought that we needed to be as removed from the political give and take and the press commentary as possible. And I think that's how it was done, and, you know, I'm very regretful that others since then have not followed that kind of thoughtful, non-partisan, above-the-fray sort of approach.
LAMB: So you think that it's a different atmosphere today.
CLINTON: I think it's a very different atmosphere today.
LAMB: In what way?
CLINTON: Oh, I think that the stakes have been raised on the partisanship. There are so many people who shoot before they aim. They don't get the facts. They're quick to, you know, make outrageous statements and judgments about other people. I think the press feels it has such a vested interest in trying to stay ahead of whatever it is that's going on so that they get out there, that nobody can say that they were behind the curve, even though a week or two later, it proves out to be not very important at all, so that both the nature of press coverage plus the increasing mean-spiritedness of the partisanship -- I understand why it's occurred. I mean, it's been a mutual relationship. I mean, it's not one side or the other's fault. I wouldn't say that. It's the decibel level has been raised on both sides. I just don't think it's good. I don't think it's good for the country, that people scream at each other and accuse each other of things.
LAMB: Any of it a result of people that were Republicans back then wanting to get back and it's not personally involved, but they want to get their pound of flesh from the other side?
CLINTON: Well, they've been -- some people have been quoted as saying that that is part of it, which, again, I think, is unfortunate. It's not the way that a great nation should conduct its affairs.
LAMB: Back to a more mundane issue. "Our passion for food ..."
CLINTON: Oh, yes.
LAMB: "... is a national obsession, and so food is -- and so is our guilt over it."
LAMB: Why did you write about this?
CLINTON: Well, I wrote about it because in much of my advocacy work in the past, I have focused on hungry children and the need to keep programs like WIC, which supplements the formula for infants and other programs like that, but our biggest problems with our children now, even though we still have hungry children -- one in 12 -- but the much bigger problem is obesity among children. And that's a combination of eating too much and exercising too little. Again, the television is part of the reason for that and the fear of parents in letting children go out to play is part of the reason. The fact that they don't have physical education in school every day in many states any longer.
So I thought that I would write about that because certainly I know from my own experience and from my own battles with food. The way that I was raised, we ate an enormous amount of food -- you know, huge slabs of meat, great big helpings of potatoes and bread. But we were more active as children. We were out there playing all the time. We were on our bikes. We were, you know, playing softball in the streets. So kids today don't have those opportunities.
LAMB: What do the three of you do today about exercise?
LAMB: We don't see the president running anymore.
CLINTON: Yeah. Well, you know, he hasn't run as often but he's been working out on weights, and as the weather gets better, he'll get back to running again. Chelsea is very good. She takes ballet every day. She's very active physically. I come and go. You know, I have some months where I'm really quite good and then other months where I'm not. I blame a lot of it on things like the weather -- it's either too hot or too cold. So I expect I'll get better now in the spring.
LAMB: What are your techniques, though, as when you travel? How do you prevent gaining weight just from eating bad food?
CLINTON: Try to stay away from it, which is very difficult. Part of my problem -- and I suppose it is for many people today -- is that, you know, when you travel a lot, when you work long hours, you just get exhausted, and food is both fuel and comfort. You know, so if it's around, I may very well eat it. So I try to keep away from it.
LAMB: Let me ask you -- it's not in the book, although you allude to the discussion about health care. I had some people over the weekend just visiting, saying, "You know, Mrs. Clinton has been tremendously successful in the health-care issue without succeeding with getting a law passed." Have you seen these stories and heard this...
LAMB: ... and you think that's true?
CLINTON: Oh, I think it's true to some extent. You know, what we were trying to do in health care, in part, wasn't understood, because it was neither unfettered competition nor government takeover of health care. It was, as the president described it, a third way -- a different approach, managed competition. I think we do have some positive results because of the competition, and we've seen costs go down for many employers who do provide health insurance for their employees.
We've seen some necessary hard decisions being made about services that could or should be offered. But there's a dark side to that. We now have more more people without insurance. It's up to 43 million working people. That doesn't count people on Medicare or Medicaid. So you add the people on Medicare, you add the people on Medicaid, we have 43 million in addition who are at risk because they are uninsured.
We've also see the results of competition without any regulation. Many of the managed competition -- the HMOs, the insurance companies -- are making some very tough decisions that I don't think are in the long-run interest of the entire health-care system. So it's a good news-bad news story. Yes, the focus on competition has led to some good results. I believe that unchecked competition in health care is and will lead to further bad results that will effect all of us.
LAMB: By the way, if you were sitting in my chair, what question would you ask you that haven't been asked in this tour? Anyone that you want somebody to ask you?
CLINTON: Well, one thing I would probably ask is what do I hope happens because of this book? I wrote it because I really wanted to get these ideas out and to get them shared. And it's been well received. I'm grateful that, you know, people have been buying it. But I would like it to be part of a broader conversation about what we do for kids. And I'd like it to be something that people talk about, not the book necessarily, but the ideas that are part of this conversation, about what people can do in their own homes and in their own neighborhoods and churches and everywhere else.
I really wish the message of this book would be that it's just not parents who have responsibility for children, it's all of us, and that my daughter's life will be affected by countless people she'll never meet who will make decisions about our economy, about the safety of our food, about all kinds of things that will determine how she lives in the future.
LAMB: When does she go to college?
CLINTON: Oh, Brian, we haven't -- this is a very sore subject. You know, people have asked me, "Gee, have the last couple of months been hard for you?" and I'll say, "Well, the hardest was going to college night." My husband and I went to college night and had to face up to the fact that she'll be gone in a year. So that's not very pleasant.
LAMB: Has she made a choice?
CLINTON: No, that is something that she has to start dealing with now.
LAMB: Does she have any idea what she wants to be?
CLINTON: Oh, for a long time, she has thought she wanted to be a doctor. That's still what she thinks she'd like to be a pediatrician, which I would, of course, love. Maybe a pediatrician with a subspecialty in gerentology as we get older.
LAMB: Take care of her mother and father. Here...
CLINTON: That's exactly right.
LAMB: Here's what the book looks like. It's called "It Takes A Village" and the author is Hillary Rodham Clinton. And we thank you for joining us.
CLINTON: Thank you, Brian.
Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 1996. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.