Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Secretary Clinton Sheds the Burqa for Wednesday’s Speech

Prior to Hillary Clinton’s appointment as the Obama Administration’s top diplomat, the liberal – except for its sexism - punditry, including its two leading female stars, Arianna Huffington and Maureen Dowd, were up in arms expressing the fear that if confirmed, Secretary Clinton would steal the foreign policy stage from the One. Fortunately, Clinton’s senate colleagues knew her as a knowledgeable, hardworking, low-keyed professional, and they gave her an overwhelming thumbs up following her confirmation hearings.

Secretary Clinton has performed her new job duties consistent with her history as a U.S. Senator from New York. She’s kept a low profile while her hard work and professionalism have won job approval ratings in the high 70s since she took over at State.

Ironically, the latest rumors to surface about Clinton’s performance in her new role suggest just the opposite to what the faux liberal punditry had earlier predicted. Now its reps are saying the Obama Administration has marginalized her. In a gossipy post at the Daily Beast on Monday, Tina Brown wrote: “It’s time for Barack Obama to let Hillary Clinton take off her burqa.”

Today, however, Politico’s Ben Smith breaks through the fog and manages to provide reasonably objective coverage of what to expect in Secretary Clinton’s upcoming foreign policy speech:

In the first six months of the Obama administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has brought her star power to the world stage and cemented her position as a serious internal player. Now, according to her aides, she is ready to articulate her own policy agenda, one that focuses in part on strengthening Americans’ capacity for what has been called “smart power.”

The speech she is scheduled to give Wednesday to the Council on Foreign Relations is expected to serve as an explanation and framework of the administration’s foreign policy and a tour of its busy first half-year. But it will sound some themes closely associated with Clinton’s former life as first lady and U.S. senator.

Smith continues:

Having established herself within the administration and on the world stage, the logical next step for Clinton is to turn her attention to a domestic audience and explain a foreign policy different in tone and substance from George W. Bush’s administration, according to Clinton watchers such as James Goldgeier, a professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

“She is so good at explaining things that I would hope that at least part of what she’s doing is explaining to the American people why the administration has the policies that it has,” said Goldgeier.

Smith suggests that remarks from an earlier town hall meeting include themes Clinton may stress in her upcoming speech:

“We are prioritizing development along with diplomacy as part of our global agenda,” Clinton said, announcing a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review modeled on the military’s procedures for developing policy. “We’re working to build a world of economic stability and prosperity, clean and affordable energy, health care, housing, and education for our children, an expansion of fundamental rights, tackling the threats of global extremism, terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

Smith concludes:

And she intends to keep making her case domestically after Wednesday, the official familiar with her speech said.

“This is not the end of the conversation,” the official said. “In many ways this is the beginning of the conversation.”

Indicative of its importance, the Plum Line's Greg Sargent is also commenting on Secretary Clinton’s upcoming speech. Sargent reports a partial list of the diverse group of people with whom Clinton has consulted in her preparation:

Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s secretary of state; George Schultz, Reagan’s secretary of state; Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s hawkish “realist” foreign policy adviser; Paul Farmer, a doctor and international humanitarian; Joseph Nye, a major proponent of “soft power,” the idea that persuasion and attraction can be more effective than coercion; Francis Fukuyama, who helped drive the rise of neoconservatism; Brent Scowcroft; the “realist” national security adviser under George H.W. Bush; Strobe Talbott, Clinton’s deputy secretary of state; John Podesta, the head of the liberal Center for American Progress; and Richard Lugar, the Republican Senator who has praised Obama’s response to the Iran crisis.

Hillary has also consulted with administration figures like President Obama himself, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and national security adviser James Jones.


  1. You put your finger on the problem with Clinton's detractors. When she was nominated for SOS the usual suspects came out screeching like banshees on how she was going to still the lime light from the president and parade on the international scene pretending to be the president, making her own policies and on it went... Of course the reality turned out different and now, they are besides them selves manufacturing controversies out of thin air because they say the SOS is invisible. May be if the media cover her daily activities instead of gossiping amongst them selves these hacks will know exactly what's going on at the State Department. What a bunch of weasels!

  2. Thanks for your comment alinosof. Your suggestion that the media would do better to cover Hillary's daily activities instead of gossiping among themselves is right on!