The name "Hillary Clinton" has been at the forefront of American political life for decades, yet her aides have also described her as the "most famous person that nobody knows." It's a bizarre paradox to live in as a public figure.

Clinton, however, is pretty aware of that.

"Like a lot of people in public life, Hillary Clinton has a pretty good grasp on the utter absurdity of her situation," said Mark Leibovich, who recently profiled Clinton in the New York Times. 

But behind her carefully orchestrated public image, Leibovich found someone with a sense of humor and a surprising back story about a distant and demanding father—an image that rarely comes across in Clinton's rare and guarded media appearances. 

"This is not something a lot of people who are consumers of politics have seen over the years," he said.

Leibovich points toward an over-reliance on political consultants and public relations managers as one reason why politicians like Clinton become flattened into milquetoasts on the stage of public life. Mitt Romney, for example, was often praised by people who knew him as likeable and down-to-Earth (or a "great guy to have a glass of milk with," Leibovich quipped) but on the campaign trail he came across as stiff, aloof, and out of touch.

"They spend hundreds of millions of dollars on these media consultants and everything, and I think they just tie them up in knots," Leibovich said.

"It's a much more palatable picture to watch them think on their feet or try to because they're actually very smart and thoughtful human beings when you get them in the right environment, but they're rarely in the right environment, if you ask a lot of people," he continued.

To hear more from Mark Leibovich, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.