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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Gets Major Props From Australians: A Woman For All Seasons

November 7, 2010

I saw this and thought it was a great example of why Hillary Clinton is so admired throughout the world, even in countries where the US may not be the most popular 800lb gorilla on the block.

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.

[snip]

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.”

[snip]

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.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    November 7, 2010 8:45 pm

    That is a great article, thanxs for posting.

    What I find interesting is how the international coverage of her is so much more thorough than US coverage which is rather strange.

    • TeresainPa permalink
      November 8, 2010 1:31 pm

      Susan, in 2008 she would have been the nominee if not for the DNC rigging it’s own rules to hand the nomination to Obama (more people voted for her ) and the media’s ongoing clinton drangement syndrome that causes them to hate the Clintons for being both smarter than them and Not elitist enough to stroke the elites egos during the 90s.
      Do not ever look to the american media to give her good coverage. It might make their boy prince look bad by comparison.

  2. discourseincsharpminor permalink
    November 7, 2010 9:04 pm

    … 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.

    Not so long ago this type of thing was beneath the nation’s top diplomat, but with the advent of personal technology that makes everyone capable of being a roving reporter I believe that the Townterviews and so on are more and more necessary. It shows that the message the people get is the same as the one we give that country’s leaders. I hope that this becomes a policy norm.

  3. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    November 8, 2010 12:29 am

    “…one of the most powerful diplomats on the planet…”

    Glad somebody recognizes that.

  4. filipino-american4hrc permalink
    November 8, 2010 12:32 am

    This is fantastic, Stacy! More than the fact that she is America’s face abroad, I’m personally gratified to see Hillary come into her own and for others to see her depth and range of smarts. I’m of the Eighties, and I remember back in 1992 when I wasn’t really into politics but I couldn’t help but take notice of her — thanks to largely negative press about this woman who doesn’t to stay home, have tea and bake cookies — because of how she projected herself: an intelligent, independent-minded woman who was not afraid to speak her mind. Of course she got so much grief for that, and we all know how that affected her public disposition.

    Which reminds me — did you get to see this Esquire profile on Hillary by Tom Junod? It was written May 12, 2010. It’s a bit Esquire-ish, though largely positive. I just came across it from another blog. Tom Junod, if I recall correctly, had written about her as First Lady then running for NY Senator; he seemed to have a kind of a crush on her mixed with pseudo-Freudian psychobabble — a bit like he was pissed at Bill for shaming his wife and how could he do so, and how could this woman remain standing with her head high. . .you get the drift.

    “Hillary. Happy.” (http://www.esquire.com/women/women-issue/hillary-clinton-0510)

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      November 8, 2010 3:21 am

      What a wonderful profile — being a psychistrist, I enjoyed the “psychobabble” and found it both plausible and moving. What I hated was the finality with which he said that her Presidential aspirations were over and done, and even more, that she’d only be a one-term SOS. It’s simply too exhausting, he suggests, not just the travel, or the unavoidable tedium, but the 24/7 task of “staying loyal to her man” (Obama this time). I hated the idea, but suddenly thought, he’s right, she can’t do this for eight years (assuming she has the chance). Put all that together, and you realize maybe we only have Hillary in public office for two more years. And THAT thought was so depressing, I decided to go back to bed. Something she’d never do, of course.

      • PCFS permalink
        November 8, 2010 4:06 am

        Gee, how true that we only have Hillary in public office for two more years. I find it so hard not to be selfish and wish her to be in public office forever. But she has said many times that she wants to do other things that interest her. Maybe she will work at the Clinton Foundation who really knows. So at least we have some more time with her as Sec. of State.

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        November 8, 2010 9:54 am

        I don’t know, is it selfishness to wish our best — and maybe last for some time — hope for woman President would stay in office a little longet and see how she feels about 2016, as the time approaches? Maybe it is.
        Of course, she should do what she
        wants — and she will, I’m sure! But 2016 is her time. To be so close…

      • TeresainPa permalink
        November 8, 2010 1:34 pm

        what we need is for Obama to decide not to run in 2012. He can’t lead, we need a leader. We need the woman Americans would have made president if the DNC decide to rig the rules for Obama.

  5. filipino-american4hrc permalink
    November 8, 2010 2:28 am

    Here’s one more commentary about her townterview: “Hillary shows why she’s a 24/7 politician” (http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/hillary-shows-why-shes-a-247-politician-20101107-17iy4.html)

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      November 8, 2010 11:31 am

      Thanks fp4hrc! These are great and this quote from Hillary bears repeating:

      ”We have a very famous saying from one of our well-known political leaders in America, former governor of New York Mario Cuomo, who says that you campaign in poetry and you govern in prose,” Clinton said.

      ”So, you get out there and you don’t know what you’re doing, but you’ve got a great way to get people to vote for you and then you wake up the day after and you say, ‘Oh my goodness, now what?’ It’s like the dog catching the car. You have to get to work and actually implement a policy. So we need in today’s very media-centric world people who can do both.”

      Hm. Thinking about anybody in particular, Madam Secretary?

  6. November 8, 2010 10:51 am

    @Carolyn- Is it selfish? Yes and no, but more no than yes. Of course, not all selfishness is per say bad or malicious, as you know.

    I too wish she would stay in public office until 2016 if Obama were to win reelection (I’d prefer she was his VP if that was the case) but if not, as SOS. I want her to run for POTUS again, but I also will respect whatever choice she makes and I certainly don’t think she should be pressured at this stage. It must be distracting for her to constantly have to answer questions about the 2008 election, her plans for 2012 and 2016. I think the talk of 2012 must be particularly frustrating for her, even problematic.

    I really can’t imagine her NOT being in public office. What the hell will I do then? I’ll need some sort of rehab.

    I personally wish I could read her mind. I just want to know

  7. November 8, 2010 12:02 pm

    Hey, just a reminder: National Geographic Channel’s Inside the State Dept. premiers tonight- check your local listings!

    • Vcal permalink
      November 8, 2010 12:16 pm

      Thank you for the reminder, I just went to NG website and signed for them to send me an alert message about the program! I feel just like you Stacy, I can’t image what I’d do if Hillary is not in the news every day for us, but if she creates a new charity foundation that I think she would (just in case she doesn’t run 4 pres) I’ll be there helping her on everyway I can!

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