Lissa Muscatine

Lissa Muscatine’s 1966 student photo

Lissa Muscatine (b. 1954)

A former classmate remembers Alison “Lissa” Muscatine arguing politics with the PE teacher at Willard in the 1960s. Intelligent, focused, and forceful, Muscatine now wields her influence in Washington, D.C., where she owns Politics & Prose Bookstore with her husband, former Washington Post editor Bradley Graham. Described by Joyce Carol Oates as “somewhere between a bookstore and a small college,” Politics & Prose has been a gathering place for D.C.’s literary intelligentsia since its founding in 1984; Muscatine and Graham bought it in 2011.

Muscatine majored in history at Radcliffe and studied philosophy, politics and economics as a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford. She worked as a reporter at the Washington Star and the Washington Post for more than a decade, then decided that writing objectively about the issues wasn’t enough for her. “As the daughter of Berkeley activists [Charles and Dora Muscatine], she wanted to do something,” as a 2015 Post article revealed. When Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, Muscatine impulsively applied for a speechwriter position at the White House, although she’d never attempted a speech in her life. It was, she told the Post, “an act of ‘extreme naiveté. I had no clue.’” But she had the skills and commitment, and went on to become a speechwriter for both the President and First Lady. With the latter, she forged a personal and professional bond that has continued ever since. She is considered part of “Hillaryland,” a group of trusted advisors and supporters who have helped shape Hillary Clinton’s political career over the years. In addition to editing Mrs. Clinton’s books, Muscatine assisted with speechwriting during Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008 and again when she was nominated for Secretary of State, and remains a strong supporter and close friend.