Hillary Clinton Finds Her Groove
This is a nice article from Laura Rozen, who I really like, but the fact is, she had her groove a long time ago. Just because the naysayers like Ben Smith, Aaron David Miller, Dick Morris and some others were lamenting that she had special envoys helping her and that she didn’t have the EXACT same relationship with the POTUS that Henry Kissinger had with his, doesn’t mean the rest of us was buying it.
Throughout her tenure as SOS she has been diligently working, sometimes behind the scenes, to improve the image of the U.S. abroad and to help solve some of the most vexing issues in places including Sudan, the DRC, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Israel and Palestine (to name just a few). The whole media theme revolving around Secretary Clinton being pushed to the side or having little clout was utter nonsense from the start. Of course, the media is not very good at admitting they were wrong. Instead, they simply say that things have changed. But as I said, Secretary Clinton always had her groove. Again, this article is very positive, but I can’t help but question how much of the media’s original hand-wringing was just flat-out wrong.
From Laura Rozen:
When Hillary Clinton, recovering from a broken elbow, gave a big foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations last summer, the White House happened to schedule an Obama health care speech in the White House Rose Garden to take place at the same time.
This year is different. In many ways, when Clinton gives a foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, it will be coming as she seems to have hit her stride in her partnership with President Barack Obama. The only cabinet member who attended President Obama’s White House dinner for Middle East leaders last week — Vice President Joseph Biden and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were in Iraq — Clinton hosted the launch of renewed Israeli-Palestinian face to face peace talks at the State Department last week, and heads off next week to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt and Jerusalem for the next round.
What is new are signs of Clinton’s renewed energy, confidence and sense of partnership with Obama. And this is happening while another of Obama’s most trusted cabinet national security advisers, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, has signaled he would like to leave the job next year.
For their parts, Clinton and Obama always personally demonstrated a high degree of cordiality to each other, if not until recently displayed the mojo of being a real team.
“She is definitely getting her sea legs; she is past the learning curve and has developed her team and her agenda and her reputation to the point she can really get things done,” former Clinton-era National Security Council official David Rothkopf said.
“With Defense Secretary Robert Gates leaving within a year and [National Security Adviser Jim] Jones probably leaving too … she looks like she is the stable center of it all and the leading figure in the Cabinet.”
What’s more, Rothkopf said, several foreign policy issues with which the administration is contending are now at a point where the State Department’s role is more prominent than the Pentagon’s.
The efforts of Middle East peace envoy Mitchell “are bearing fruit and bringing that issue to the fore … which is a State issue,” Rothkopf noted, while the hand over in Iraq, and critical issues in Afghanistanl, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and with China “are all State issues.”
One Washington Middle East hand said Obama and Clinton had developed a “good cop/bad cop” routine that proved effective during the recent visit of Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
“Obama was the good cop with both parties and Hillary the bad cop,” the Washington Middle East hand said on condition of anonymity. “She came into the meetings with the Israelis, saying, ‘Look, yes, we love you, but if you guys can’t help us find a formula for settlements, if peace talks fail because of you, it’s going to make our lives very difficult. … It will be very hard to hold off the boycott movement by the Europeans … think of how difficult it will be to protect you [diplomatically], if this all fails because of settlements.’”
And the Palestinians got told by Clinton, the Middle East hand said, “Look, how can we get anything if you say you are going to leave?”
While Clinton said in several interviews last year that though she loves the job, she was tired and found the pace of foreign travel exhausting, she no longer talks about being tired.