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Secretary Clinton: Probably Glad to Be in Another Country During Midterm Madness and Other News *updated*

November 2, 2010

Heh. Smart woman! And Obama should be very grateful to President Bill Clinton for criss-crossing the country to rally wayward Democrats and Independents, particularly in states where Obama’s presence on the campaign trail would actually hurt Democrats.

From msnbc:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday she expects President Barack Obama to stay the course on domestic and foreign policy even if Republicans make big gains, as expected, in hotly contested congressional midterm elections.

Clinton told students and civic leaders in Malaysia that she had spoken to Obama by phone on the eve of the vote, and joked that she thought he seemed “a little envious” that she was abroad for an election that may see Democrats lose control of Congress.

“I think he was a little envious that I am here,” Clinton said, describing the phone call she and Obama had at 1 a.m. — midday Monday on Washington time.

But she said that even if Democrats lose control of Congress, the Obama administration will pursue its agenda.

“The political winds blow back and forth but I think you will find that President Obama is a pretty steady captain of the ship,” Clinton said. “So no matter what happens in our election, you will see him … continuing to promote his agenda, which I think is right for America and right for the world.”

Clinton is barred from partisan political activity as America’s top diplomat, but said she personally thought Obama is doing an “excellent job” in handling complex domestic and foreign policy matters.

In other Secretary of State news Hillary gets props for how well she interacts during Q&A’s:

When Hillary Rodham Clinton was asked what she thought about comments that she was smarter than her husband, Bill, the highest-ranking US diplomat gave an answer that was both convincing and yet diplomatic: I think my husband is the smartest person I have ever met and he thinks the same of me.

Her answer was met with applause by her audience of more than 500 people, including women leaders, academics and students, who had been specially invited to the more than hour-long “A Conversation with US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton” at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (ISTAC) here Tuesday.

The town hall style programme was also telecast interactively to two library centres in Kuala Lumpur and in Kuching for university students to follow the conversation.

In a candid question-and-answer session, she also spoke of Bill as being an endlessly interesting life partner after having known him for 39 years and being his wife for 35 years.

What struck the audience most was her poise and intellectual responses to even the most difficult of issues and questions from an enthusiastic audience.


When asked about her views about women going into politics, Clinton said they should be encouraged to do so but should be prepared for the hard work and to especially have “the skin of a rhinoceros”.

However, she said being a politician was intellectually demanding but rewarding, especially in being able to meet so many different kinds of interesting people.

As for the general thinking that the US was siding with the Israelis when dealing with the Palestinians, Clinton said that since the 1990s she had felt that both Israel had a right to a exist while the Palestinians had a right to a state.

The US too was committed to a two-state solution, she said, adding that the US had provided more aid to the Palestinians than any other country ever had.

Saying that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was an extremely complex issue, she said the US was committed towards securing a peace agreement from both sides through negotiations.

Clinton said she was working very hard to create greater trust between the Israelis and Palestinians to resolve their decades-long conflict.

“I find it very helpful to put myself in the other person’s shoes like if I were a Palestinian, if I were an Israeli, how do I see the world?” she said.

She welcomed Malaysia’s support for the Palestinians in their state building efforts so that they would be ready for statehood when agreement was reached with the Israelis.

UPDATE: Thanks to filipino-american4hrc in the comments for pointing me to this article:

A player in U.S. elections for more than two decades, Clinton, as the top U.S. diplomat, is now barred from domestic politics and chose to spend election day on the other side of the world on a two-week, seven-nation Asia-Pacific trip.

Anxiety over the stumbling U.S. economy and discontent with Obama and government in Washington have brought Republicans to the threshold of huge gains that could give them a majority in the House of Representatives and perhaps the Senate.

Taping a televised question-and-answer program in Kuala Lumpur, Clinton was asked whether Obama, a Democrat, could advance his agenda when “he himself is having challenges winning the hearts of the American people.”

Clinton pointed to the long history of a U.S. president’s party losing seats in Congress in the election after he takes office, noting this happened to her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in 1994.

“A new president gets elected, he usually does an enormous amount his first two years, and then everybody in America says ‘well that’s not enough’ or ‘that’s too much,'” she said.

“It’s like Goldilocks … It’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s not right,” she added. “So they send a message to the new president by voting out members of Congress of his party.”

Clinton said she believed history would look kindly on Obama — particularly for stabilizing the world economy and preventing “a global depression” soon after he took office.

…[emphasis added]

27 Comments leave one →
  1. filipino-american4hrc permalink
    November 2, 2010 11:47 am

    She’s the smartest woman in politics that I have ever watched since the 1992 elections, period! I also like her Q&A at Cambodia (read it at Still4Hill’s site), very substantive interaction with the young — a nice cap to her visit.

    Watching Hillary over the years, you also see how much she has evolved in terms of her public persona: more at ease in her own skin, charming in her own right (without the expansive, larger-than-life projection of Bill), obviously connects with her audience with her weighty responses without sounding like she takes herself seriously. I think the 2008 campaign really changed her (as she used to tell her supporters), and in a good way.

    If ever she becomes President, I have no doubt that she will work her heart out and try to be the very best, given the circumstances.

    • November 2, 2010 12:22 pm

      Yes, I had hoped to have a video of the Town Hall with Cambodian youth- one may come out yet- they are a little behind when she travels and I don’t see anything on YouTube yet. The transcript of the town hall can also be found here. If the video pops up I’ll post it:

  2. filipino-american4hrc permalink
    November 2, 2010 12:00 pm

    Oh, here’s another quotable quote from Hillary on the mid-terms (

    “”A new president gets elected, he usually does an enormous amount his first two years, and then everybody in America says ‘well that’s not enough’ or ‘that’s too much,'” she said.

    “It’s like Goldilocks … It’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s not right,” she added. “So they send a message to the new president by voting out members of Congress of his party.”

    I wonder if the younger Malaysians are familiar with Goldilocks :=)

    • November 2, 2010 12:22 pm

      Thanks, I’ll add that to the post.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      November 2, 2010 2:41 pm

      “It’s like Goldilocks…”
      Love that. Who said she doesn’t have a sense of humor and deft political touch?

  3. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    November 2, 2010 2:05 pm

    stacy, have you seen this week’s (Nov 8th) issue of New York Magazine (or don’t you read that in Beantown?). There’s an article by John Heilemann entitled, “What if Hillary had been President?” I found it utterly offensive on so many levels. Here are a few choice excerpts:

    First of all, it begins: “Call me a freak, but I’d be happy to travel anywhere at the drop of a hat for a chance to see Bill Clinton…” He gets around to mentioning Hillary in paragraph 3 — just to remind us all how, in early June 2008, she “refused to concede, refused to endorse him, refused to admit the evident reality that she had lost.”

    “…[H]ow different would things be today if Hillary had won? These questions have been asked before during Obama’s tenure, mostly if not exclusively byardent Clintonistas, some of whom pine for the secretary of State to challenge Obama for the party’s nomination in 2012. So let’s dispense with that idea, shall we? Not gonna happen, no way, no how…Hillary in 2016? Absolutely. Hillary in 2012? You’re high…”

    He goes on to make the argument that on foreign affairs and the economy, Hillary’s approach would have been essentially the same as Obama’s. What about healthcare? Heilemann concedes, “Hillary might have gotten things passed more quickly than Obama did,” but insists heakthcare would still have been a central rallying cry for the Republicans.
    “It’s tempting to think she might have had more success at finding a functional modus vivendi with the Republicans [but that’s] forgetting the extremity of the animus that the right has always harbored towards Hillary…the nastiness would have had a different cast (no birthers, no posters of HRC with a bone through her nose) but would’ve been no less intense.” He consludes that her first two years in office would have been “no less rocky” than Obama’s. In the last four paragraphs, he then returns to his hero-worshipping of Bill Clinton, and asks, “Would Hillary have been so dextrous if she were President right now? There is ample reason to think not. Her weaknesses when it comes to the art of politics are abundant and well known…” Blah, blah, blah.

    • November 2, 2010 2:50 pm

      Isn’t Heilemann the bonehead that co-wrote ‘Game Change’ with Mark Halperin- a book with not one single endnote describing the sources for their provocative gossip? They also played fast and loose with the use of quotation marks if I remember correctly- I read that book it was clear that they had it out for Hillary. Then I read ‘The Battle for America 2008″ by Balz and Johnson and the tone was totally different- they didn’t make Hillary out to be some conniving, power-hungry, win-at-all-costs sore loser. Instead, the book seemed to be well-sourced and not just be a hit-job. In fact, I’d recommend reading it, it’s quite good.

      I’ll go read the NY Magazine article by that blob Heilemann (and yes, here in Beantown we do have access to NY periodicals- we just treat them with a certain amount of disdain 🙂 ) Heilemann hearts Obama and it looks like he hearts Bill Clinton. I wonder if he has women issues because none of the women in ‘Game Change’ fared too well.

      He’s on Chris Mathews’ show a lot- two peas in a pod.

      • PYW permalink
        November 3, 2010 5:26 pm

        Stacy, I wasn’t aware of the Balz/Johnson book. Was it just released? I’m glad somebody penned a book on the 2008 campaign that’s in-depth and fair. Of course, without gossipy stuff the media loves, it wouldn’t get the publicity of the Heilemann/Halperin dreck.

        • November 4, 2010 7:00 am

          It came out a while ago but the coverage of it was eclipsed by the release of the more gossipy, lurid election accounts in ‘Game Change.’

  4. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    November 2, 2010 2:31 pm

    Link to article:

    • filipino-american4hrc permalink
      November 2, 2010 2:58 pm

      Carolyn, the Obama cheerleaders are desperate. Journolisters like Ben Smith and the NYT also keep selling that BS that it was Bill who wanted Kendrik Meeks out in the Florida race even though it was Crist-White House effort from the get-go.

      For every Obama-cheering media hack who puts Hillary down, especially someone who co-authors the gossip-mongering “Game Change,” the rest of the world just sees Hillary’s value. So we continue mounting our counter-narrative.

      “Clinton visit raises hopes for embattled Pacific women” (

      As Maya Angelou said, like dust, Hillary just rises.

      • November 2, 2010 3:23 pm

        True. Ben Smith is infuriating. And the likes of Heilemann, Halperin and Jonathan Alter just engage in journalistic fellatio with respect to Obama. Lets see what happens when the afterglow wears off- will they turn on him? You never know, it could happen, particularly as more people leave the administration during troubled times and start to talk to journalists. Also, Obama is like bush in that he isn’t really accessible to most of the press, so that could wear thin on them too.

  5. November 2, 2010 3:12 pm

    Have people voted yet? I’m going to go after work. They say it’s record turnout all over the place, which is good- we take voting for granted. Whether or not its good for the dems is another matter. I kind of would like the GOP not to have the landslide victory that all the pundits are projecting because I don’t think I will be able to stand the gloating, among other reasons.

    Well, if the GOP controls the house then DADT could be here to stay- all the more reason Obama should let it die a quiet death in the courts. A lame duck congress isn’t going to get anything controversial done but he may be using his veto power a lot.

  6. Tovah permalink
    November 2, 2010 4:18 pm

    I read Game Change too b/c I wanted to see for myself what the fuss was about. As Stacy said there is no sourcing so you just have to blindly trust the authors and/or the sources despite the fact they may have an agenda.

    Um glad to hear “the Battle for America” is credible- I’ll pick that one up

  7. HillaryFan permalink
    November 2, 2010 5:39 pm

    I voted and there were lots of people at the polls- that’s always good to see. I always feel good after I vote.

    I just saw that guy you guys were talking about- John Heilemann on Hardball with Chris Mathews. Chris Mathews always says ‘Game Change’ is one of the greatest political books- what a jerk. He always kisses his guest’s backside – if they are guys that is.

    • November 2, 2010 6:08 pm

      Ok, me too, just got back from voting. I also feel good after voting- it’s frustrating that so many people don’t exercise that right.

      Now it’s time for the pundits to talk out of their back side until the returns start coming in.

      I was listening to NPR in the car and they were talking about what Obama should say in his post-election news conference- should he pledge to work with the
      GOP, should he say he heard what voters were saying, should he move to the right, etc. etc. I think he obviously has to acknowledge whatever the result is and say the voters have spoken and he has listened and he better sound genuine when he says it. I also think he needs to get rid of some of his advisers because they seem totally tone deaf- he needs people that can do more than simply gaze up at him in awe and who think he’s wonderful- good advisers are able to speak truth to power and at times tell them things they don’t want to hear- you can do that and still be loyal and I feel the same way re: Hillary Clinton advisers (for the record).

      I guess as a liberal I am just frustrated because despite all the talk of his governing from the far left (by the so-called liberal media and the GOP, Fox News etc) I think he’s been quite moderate. The bailouts started under Bush and one could argue that the problem with the stimulus was that there wasn’t enough actual stimulus in it- instead he made tons of concessions (tax breaks) just to have to get two or three GOP votes. Same thing with health care and Wall Street reform. He’s made big concessions and they have ended up not getting him much credit or GOP support while at the same time undermining the very purpose of his initiatives/legislation. I think the idea that tax cuts, massive defense spending and deregulating everything id going to solve all of our problems, is just wishful thinking . Haven’t we been there and done that? I do think he should have tackled jobs and Wall Street reform as soon as he got in office.

      So I guess I am worried he is going to lurch to the right and further alienate the base and then I’ll have to consider voting third party.

      Ok, I’m off to go watch the news.

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        November 2, 2010 7:09 pm

        Voted this morning with my son (had to drag him!) and — don’t broadcast this — I reminded a few of my younger patients to vote. Not HOW to vote, just to vote. Kinda miss the old voting machines where you shoved a crank one way to reset the machine and close the curtain behind you, made your choices by turning down little levers, then shoved the crank back to register your vote. The new system is both lower and higher tech — at a “privacy booth” (about as “private” as an ATM machine) you fill in a circle under your chosen
        candidates’ names on a paper ballot (with a ballpoint!) then feed that into a machine. I had to remind my son to turn over the ballot because there were two propositions we were voting on. Apparently these machines read both sides of the paper simultaneously. Oh, and although the directions for filling out the ballot tell you to fill in the circle OVER your candidates’ names, the circles are actually UNDER the names.

        Don’t you just love progress?

  8. November 2, 2010 7:30 pm

    @Carolyn- your son isn’t old enough to vote yet, right? So he was just going in with you and helping you vote? Every parent should drag their kids to the polls to set a good example.

    I actually think election day should be a federal holiday but the GOP doesn’t like that idea- ’cause more lower wage/shift workers might have an easier time getting out to vote!

    Our ballots are exactly the same as yours- paper and pen, fill in the circle, the ballot questions started on the front and ended on the back, which I’m sure some people will miss. Then we feed it into a machine. But honestly, I don’t trust those Diebold ATM voting machines, so I am happy doing it this way. We had the crank systems in PA and I always thought they were a little confusing at first.

    So crazy Rand Paul is now Crazy Senator Rand Paul.

    It’s going to be a long night.

  9. HillaryFan permalink
    November 2, 2010 7:33 pm

    I’m sort of enjoying watching Rachel Maddow repeatedly get annoyed with big mouth Chris Mathews- he looked at her like he couldn’t believe she was daring to disagree with him on television. I really think he doesn’t like when women disagree with him or when they have really strong opinions, and Rachel has strong opinions.

  10. Thain permalink
    November 2, 2010 9:13 pm

    I’m enjoying watching Maddow rip Evan Bayh a new one. Sorry, bayh is too conservative for me and all he’s done since resigning is go around talking shit about the democrats and bolstering the false GOP claim that Obama and the dems are wild-eyed liberals. I know a lot of Hillary fans looooove him b/c she had a good working relationship with him and he supported her for POTUS but I never liked him. I think he’s a lot like Lieberman in terms of his politics- to each his own but he’s too conservative for me!

    You watch, the WH will try to blame their losses on the liberal base. The GOP treats their base well and keeps ‘en happy while the dems use us like their personal ATM during primaries only to then toss us under the bus once in office. I want a third party!

  11. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    November 3, 2010 12:31 am

    Just shoot me…ug.

    @stacy – my older boy is 20. He turned 18 just in time for the 2008 G.E. but not in time for the primaries. However, he was a Hillary supporter 🙂

  12. November 3, 2010 5:27 am

    Ok, I guess that could have been worse. I guess. Ok, maybe not. The Senate is hanging on by a thread waiting for results from Washington and Alaska. Thank God Sharron Angle lost.

    Well, I guess now the GOP/Tea Party will actually have to do something other than throw sand in the gears, although I think they cynically want the economy to stay in the dumps until 2012.

    What is interesting is so many of the so-called outsider Republicans/Tea Party candidates are Wall Street flunkies, derivatives traders, former lobbyists, bankers etc. I am not sure how that equals “outsider.” But the GOP messaging machine- heavily funded by Wall Street, did a great job convincing the electorate that the Tea Party conservatives represented Mr. Everyman. Florida’s new governor, for example was engaged in massive Medicare fraud as a hospital CEO but that didn’t bother conservatives one bit. A lot of progressives lost their seats. I will be sorry to see Russ Feingold go.

    • Steve permalink
      November 3, 2010 7:13 am

      Congrats to MA- not a single Republican won anything- a total democratic sweep. I guess you guys got your act together after the Scott Brown win!

      While turnout was very high everywhere one thing Obama won’t want to admit is that it’s his own fault he couldn’t get the progressive base excited enough to get out there and win the ground game in a lot of these states. Yes, a lot of independents went out and voted their anger and voted GOP but had the base been out in force the dems might have fared better. While no party can win with ONLY the support of their base, it’s also true that no party can win WITHOUT the support of their base. The GOP has long understood this.

      Obama needs to look at his political advisers and his economic team and make some big changes- his uber-loyalists are not doing him any favors at this point. Notice that that jerk Larry Summers slinked out right before midterms- that guy is never held accountable for anything. Geithner and Rubin need to go too IMHO.

  13. Scott permalink
    November 3, 2010 9:17 am

    It’s sad to watch Geraldine Ferraro be the Fox News toadie sitting beside Sarah Palin. I always liked Ferraro. At the very least I am hoping they are paying her well to be the anti-Obama democrat. Maybe Evan Bayh will join Fox News as a contributor too. He’d be in good company.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      November 3, 2010 3:58 pm

      After team Obama finished smearing Ferraro as a racist, it’s no surprise she’d take to the airwaves against him. Ferraro’s presence takes me back to that pivotal moment in the primaries when Hillary’s support among the black electorate tanked overnight (thanks to team Obama’s smear campaign labeling her and Bill as racists) — just in time for the South Carolina primary. And Ferraro’s presence — whether she acyualky voices this or not — raises the question: what if Hillary had won? Would the Dems have suffered a midterm bloodbath of these proportions?

      • Thain permalink
        November 3, 2010 7:49 pm

        That’s still no reason to join up to help Faux News spread right wing disinformation and lies. They have done more to degrade and dumb down the level of debate, spread fear and hateful messages regarding Muslims and immigrants and on and in.

        The dems need to adjust to the fact that Fox is a 24/7 GOP disinfomercial and when you then add wingnut talk radio, the dems have nothing that begins to compare. Sure, there are a few libs on MSNBC but that doesn’t begin to compare to the republican noise machine that is Fox News. Murdoch and Ailes purchase media companies to try to promote a conservative agenda. The dems need to find a way to compete with this- I’m not sure how, particularly when the other side doesn’t care about the truth or facts.

        Hillary may well have held on to the House were she POTUS but there is no reason to think the right wing wouldn’t be as hateful and dishonest towards her as they’ve been in the past. They just happen to hate the person in office-Obama- and dome people really want to believe that the wingnuts would treat the clintons better a second time around. Sorry, I’m not buying that.

  14. Thain permalink
    November 3, 2010 7:52 pm

    Sorry for all the typos- my last sentence I meant “some people really want to believe…”

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