Access and American politics

10th October 2018

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Hillary Rodham Clinton, politician and diplomat, met with Wadham Warden Ken Macdonald QC to hear about the College’s ground-breaking work to widen participation at Oxford.

  • Photo: Julie Hage, Wadham College Director of Development; Lissa Muscatine; Ken Macdonald, Warden of Wadham College; Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Elizabeth Kiss, Warden of Rhodes House

At a meeting organised by Secretary Clinton’s senior advisor and speechwriter, Wadham alumna Lissa Muscatine (European Politics, 1977), Hillary Clinton was keen to hear about the College’s efforts to attract students from a diverse range of backgrounds and the support they are given throughout their education here.

Muscatine, who was visiting Oxford with Hillary Clinton, worked as White House and State Department speechwriter, serving as a senior adviser on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and as an unofficial adviser during the 2016 campaign. 

She has also worked as a journalist and editor with the Washington Star and the Washington Post , and is currently completing her book, Hillaryland. Muscatine, a Rhodes scholar, also invited the Warden of Rhodes House, Elizabeth Kiss, to join the meeting and share details about the Rhodes' ambitious vision for widening their global reach.

Prior to the meeting, Wadham students got a rare first-hand insight into current American politics from alumna Lissa Muscatine.

Wadham Warden, Ken Macdonald QC, facilitated a discussion with some twenty students, which opened with Muscatine’s observations and insights into the recent appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court by President Trump.

The conversation moved to the two defining campaigns in Hillary Clinton’s political career: her first campaign to lead the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential election, and how and why she narrowly lost to then Senator Barack Obama; and her second presidential bid in 2016, in which she lost to Donald Trump in an often bizarre and brutal campaign that continues to provoke controversy.

Muscatine touched on other defining moments in Hillary Clinton’s career, particularly the ground-breaking ‘Beijing speech’ that Clinton gave at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 – penned by Muscatine.

She also discussed the challenges faced by Hillary Rodham Clinton in creating and sustaining her own narrative in both of her presidential campaigns.

Students questioned Muscatine about the current state of US politics, and were fortunate to get answers and opinions from someone who has been at the heart of Washington for several decades. The short-term future for American politics looks potentially very bleak and worrying, she said, but added that if a large majority of Americans go out and vote in the next elections, the Trump era will be a thing of the past. 

  • Warden, Ken Macdonald QC with Alumna, Lissa Muscatine

    Warden, Ken Macdonald QC with Alumna, Lissa Muscatine

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