If you wanted to know how Bill Clinton thought when he was president, you ignored the scripted set-piece speeches and instead went to listen to him talk off the cuff at an evening fundraiser. At night, he would ruminate extemporaneously on race, religion, science, and the nature of the human soul. His mind would roam widely and yet pull together disparate themes into a coherent narrative as no other politician of his generation. Today, the place to hear him think out loud is at the annual Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York, where he gathers hundreds of heads of state, business moguls, nonprofit executives, academics, and even Hollywood stars not just to talk about the world's problems but to do something about them.
Peter Baker, White House correspondent for the New York Times, and Susan Glasser, Foreign Policy's executive editor, caught up with Clinton there for an expansive conversation about identity, virtue, and riding the steppes with Genghis Khan. Below, the edited excerpts.