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At the end of a long, substantive interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, the conversation turned away from the gloomy subjects of Middle East peace negotiations, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, to a lighter question about the first thing the Secretary of State packs when she is heading out on one of her many world tours.

“Makeup,” said Madam Secretary. “When you get as little sleep and you’re as jet-lagged as I am, it’s very hard not to scare the children in the morning.”

For those of us who have known Hillary for a long time, her self-depreciating sense of humor is one of her strongest assets. Sure, she can be as serious and as determined as anyone, but better than most on the world stage she knows how to keep from taking herself too seriously.

The comment about makeup followed an exchange with Roberts about the long road that Hillary has traveled from Park Ridge, Illinois, to being Secretary of State:

QUESTION: Could you have imagined all those years ago that you would have seen as much of the world as you have seen?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I would not have imagined it. I certainly could not have imagined being Secretary of State. I couldn’t have imagined, when I was Chelsea’s age growing up in Park Ridge, Illinois, that I would have been married to the President and First Lady, and I certainly wouldn’t have imagined the great honor I had of serving New York as senator. But that’s what’s so great about our country. I mean, you’re a girl from Mississippi —


SECRETARY CLINTON: — and here we are, sitting, talking about these important issues in the world.


SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s why I love every minute that I get to represent the United States, because I’m a product of how great our country is, and that’s why I care so deeply that we get out there and try to manage and solve the problems that could perhaps narrow the opportunities for own children – and I hope someday, grandchildren – in the future.

QUESTION: Now, you’re not giving us any news, are you? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I’m not. No news, just hope. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: As every mother would do. Just very quickly, the first thing you put in your luggage to pack? Because you pack so much, what are your – what’s your must-have?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, my gosh. Well, I have a list and it includes, obviously, makeup because – (laughter) – when you get as little sleep and you’re as jetlagged as I am, it’s very hard not to scare the children in the morning. No, it’s just become a routine. (Laughter.) You get up and you get going.

But it’s exhilarating work. And I also am inspired by the stories of people around the world who overcome unbelievable odds. I look at their lives and I am just really humbled. And I think that the United States still represents such hope and possibility for the world. And even though we have a very complex, difficult economic and political environment to navigate, I have enormous confidence in our country. So I get up every day and suit up and go on out.

For the really serious part of this interview, I suggest you read the transcript available at the State Department or from the Hillary Clinton Quarterly.

The fluidity and intelligence of Hillary’s answers to tough questions about Iran, Israel and Palestine, Pakistan and Afghanistan, only reinforce the opinion of many of us that American voters elected the wrong person president.