Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Gets Major Props From Australians: A Woman For All Seasons
She’s in Melbourne and she held a Townterview, as she always does when she travels – I put a video excerpt in the posts below- I’m still trying to get my hands on a video of the entire event- and as always, she engaged with young Australians in a manner that was real and genuine- a true back and forth. She connects with her audience and it seems that no topics are off limits. She didn’t sound like a politician and she didn’t give evasive answers- how refreshing given the political dialogue in the US has been reduced to bumper sticker slogans, evasive dodging and little else.
This is an excerpt of an article from the Australian site The Punch:
A funny thing happened in Melbourne yesterday morning. A very senior politician answered a whole lot of questions in complete sentences, with barely an acronym, and without the repetition of a handful of sound bites.
This politician – to the surprise of some of the people in the room – even expressed an opinion on some issues. An actual opinion.
This aberration on the political scene didn’t so much as raise an eyebrow among the people who had seen her up close before. For the rest of us, however, it was quite shocking.
But somehow through all those years as First Lady, serving in the US Senate and now as one of the most powerful diplomats on the planet, she’s retained a skill that’s sadly lacking in our politicians – the ability to talk to like a normal person.
On whether she ever suffers self-doubt: “Everyone does, if you don’t I would worry about you.”
On politics as a popularity contest: “Could Abraham Lincoln have been elected President in the 21st Century … Could he have withstood the 24-hour news coverage but also everyone being a reporter with their own cell phone.” [Clinton also made the honest point it’s hard to get elected without the communication skills to get elected, and it’s hard for someone without ideas to govern.]
On modern parenting: “It is the case that we are perhaps limiting our childrens’ opportunities to explore and make mistakes,” and that kids now are “more worldly wise but with less personal experience.”
On Muslim attire for women: “There’s a difference between a head scarf and a burqa.”
On how to make marriage work in politics: “Have ground rules going into it on what you’re going to discuss.”
I don’t know if it’s practice, confidence, or just a natural personality trait – but listening to Clinton range across topics as diverse as managing stress, gay marriage, burqas and the great foreign relations challenges of our time, with such ease yesterday highlighted the barren desert that serves as political discourse in this country.
I don’t mean to be harsh, but I just can’t see Condi Rice doing this. Nor can I see Colin Powell doing this. And as I’ve said about 100 times before on this site, whenever some foreign policy pundit tries to claim that she should be more like James Baker and Henry Kissinger, I can’t help but think “no, she needs to continue to be more like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.” She doesn’t get enough credit from the good ‘ole boys who see diplomacy as something one always does behind closed doors and I can’t help but think they see this sort of conversation with average people as somehow beneath them, or beneath any Secretary of State. I don’t think they could be more wrong.