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Hillary Clinton Finds Her Groove

September 7, 2010

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.

Read more:

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Thain permalink
    September 7, 2010 11:51 am

    You are right on- we were saying all along the rumors about her not having power or being in the shadows was unadulterated bullsh*t.

    You wrote an article about that for another website when all the rumors first started – I remember reading it and that’s how I found this blog. You should repost it her or link to it to show the media that not everyone had their heads up their asses. 🙂

  2. PYW permalink
    September 7, 2010 12:10 pm

    Laura Rozen does a tremendous job covering Hillary because she avoids falling for the conventional wisdom about her, which is nearly always wrong.

    • September 7, 2010 12:21 pm

      I like Rozen a lot too and should have made that more clear because I sound a bit too critical in this post (I’ll change that)- she sticks to facts and shies away from gossip. I will say at times when she teams up with Ben Smith the reporting tends to be more speculative but I sort of have a grudge against Smith since he wrote that “Hillary in the Shadows” article which seemed to set off months of media speculation about how she has no power within the admin. Laura has always been really great to me when I talk to her and ask her stuff about her foreign policy coverage- she tells me off the record stuff (so long as I don’t repeat it!). I wish she could snag an interview with Hillary- that would be a great “get” for her (Rozen)!

      I also think Aaron David Miller has some sort of grudge of some sort against the Clintons because he is the go-to guy (he and the CFR’s Leslie Gelb) for quotes about how she isn’t Henry Kissinger and about how the Special Envoys reduce her authority. He worked in the Clinton admin. and many other admins and I can’t help but wonder if he’s ticked off he isn’t working in this State Dept? He’s always so negative about everything.

  3. a neutral friend in the fight permalink
    September 7, 2010 1:08 pm

    Hi Stacyx. Thanks for some good news.

    The media is finally taking notice of Secy Clinton since there have been talks about her running for president (an ad already out) or being VP replacement. Hence her all of a sudden spectacular job, which anyone who can see knows she has done since day one of her political career. And just getting her sea legs? Why because she’s been up in the air flying some place?

    So now it’s “Hillary” is doing a good job at SoS . Unsaid: she better stay there. Matthews thinks she should take Gates’ job. What other jobs could barry do if Secy Clinton were president besides giving Dan Quayle or is it quail a run for his money?

    Keep up the good work. Love the photos.

    ps. Do you happen to know Secy Clinton’s stance on the Iranian women, Sakineh Ashtiani, who was sentenced to death by stoning and just given another 99 lashes. I find it extremely troubling that the US has said nothing.

    • September 7, 2010 1:23 pm

      Hi there- actually, Secretary Clinton did release a statement in August where she mentioned the human rights violations of several Iranians including Ashtiani:

      “The United States is deeply concerned that Iran continues to deny its citizens their civil rights and intimidate and detain those Iranians who seek to hold their government accountable and stand up for the rights of their fellow citizens.

      We remain troubled by the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who garnered international attention for her verdict of death by stoning. While the Iranian Government later stated she would not face execution by stoning, her fate is unclear.

      We are also troubled by reports that Ebrahim Hamidi, an 18-year old charged with homosexuality, faces imminent execution despite the fact that he is currently without legal representation. Neither case has proceeded with the transparency or due process enshrined in Iran’s own constitution, and their lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, felt that he had to flee Iran after he was questioned by authorities and his family members were detained.

      We are also concerned about the fate of Iranians who are in danger of imminent execution for exercising their right to free expression after the June 2009 elections, including Jafar Kazemi, Mohammad Haj Aghaei, and Javad Lari.

      The United States urges the Iranian Government to halt these executions in accordance with its obligations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners and imprisoned human rights defenders.

      The United States will continue to stand with people around the world who seek to exercise their universal rights and speak out in defense of human liberties.”

  4. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    September 7, 2010 4:05 pm

    Nice article. I made the mistake of reading the comments that followed — rest assured, Hillary hatred (and sexism) are alive and well! It never ceases to amaze me that there are still people out there who refuse to accept that Hillary has EVER accomplished ANYTHING of note in her decades of public service — certainly not as Secretary of State. I think “refuse” is the operative word here; I was tempted to comment but realized that Hillary haters aren’t really interested in hearing anything that might contradict their point of view. They just love spewing their venom. So tiresome. And repetitive. And utterly without merit. If I read the word “Shrillery” one more time, I might just throw my copy of Susan B. Anthony’s account of her trial for “illegal” voting at the computer screen. Accomplishments? If Hillary does nothing else in the next few years (and I think we’ll see many of her initiative begin to bear fruit), the fact that she has elevated development as the major tool for achieving US foreign policy goals — and has placed the rights and aspirations of women at the center of this effort — represents a major shift in priorities, far more significant than yet another photo op with the poisonously smiling and loathsome Netanyahu. Just as a minor footnote, she has appointed 25 women to ambassadorships — the highest number ever. Colin Powell was completely devalued and ignored during his four-year tenure with Bush, as Cheney and Rumsfeld ran the show, but I don’t remember people trumpeting how powerless and marginalized he was. Can anyone name anything he accomplished? Or the colorless Condi Rice? Hillary will have to walk on water, dragging Bill on HER coattails, before some people
    will be willing to acknowledge that maybe she accomplished something. Come to think of it, they’d still insist it was just another trick by those evil, conniving, power-hungry Clintons!

    • PYW permalink
      September 7, 2010 5:25 pm

      I agree 100 percent. Another favorite of Hillary haters is “Hitlery.” How original! I’ve decided if Hillary doesn’t care what these small-minded idiots think, I don’t either. 🙂

    • September 7, 2010 5:41 pm

      You can’t reason with those people in the comment section. I stopped commenting over at Politico period because for some reason the people commenting their are just hateful, period. I don’t have a lot of respect for people who hide behind their anonymity and say things they would never dare say to anyone face to face.

      Hillary has been subjected to more scrutiny than any other SOS- Powell was used by Rumsfeld and Cheney to spread their lies and no one dared suggest that. As you said, he was totally shut out by the neocons. Where were Leslie Gelb and Aaron David Miller then? Not complaining that Powell was no Kissinger, that’s for sure. Based on their own biases the media decided after the election that Hillary would try to one-up barack obama and that there would be constant power struggles. None of that has happened although its obvious that they hold out hope for some of the same rancor which defined the campaign. They also hoped Bill Clinton would cause trouble and nothing of the sort has happened- in fact, he’s been a huge help to Obama.

      Hillary is an indespensible asset to Obama and some on the right and on the left may not want to believe that but the fact is, she’s perfectly suited for this job. She’s also perfectly suited to be POTUS, but that’s another can of worms…

      • Hillary2012 permalink
        September 7, 2010 5:59 pm

        Ah yes, stacy likes respectful debate. I guess that’s why she never criticizes The One, Barack Hussein Obama. Because to do so would be disrespectful.


      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        September 7, 2010 6:02 pm

        I’m hoping the History books will say that Hillary was our first woman POTUS, but at the very least, I think they’ll say she was the Susan B. Anthony of the 21st century. One of my favorite quotes from Susan B. Anthony could apply equally well to Hillary: “The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball — the further I am rolled the more I gain. “

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        September 7, 2010 6:04 pm

        I hope the History books will say that Hillary was our first woman POTUS but at the very least, I think they’ll say she was this century’s Susan B. Anthony. One of my favorite SBA quotes could apply equally well to Hillary: “The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball — the further I am rolled the more I gain. “

  5. Thain permalink
    September 7, 2010 6:02 pm

    Hey, Hillary2012, you come here like every two weeks to piss and moan and you hardly sound like a real Hillary supporter because you say nothing NOTHING positive about Hillary Clinton. You sound a lot more like a right wing plant pretending to be a Hillary supporter.

    But for the record yes, I am stacy’s lovesick puppy. Got a problem with that?


  6. June 22, 2013 1:39 pm

    I love her hair cut

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