Hillary Clinton was once Obama’s fierce competitor. She is now his greatest supporter and helps him to repair the world’s damaged image of America.
First the First Lady, Now Secretary of State
The president, without luck, is hollow-cheeked and irritated; his secretary of state is worn out, tired, the corner of her mouth degenerating. The glamorous adversarial pair of Democratic candidates from 2008 seems exhausted. The material battles with the Republicans over health care reform, debt reduction and the job crisis could not be squared with a glamorous foreign policy. Hillary Clinton was barely involved.
Barack Obama couldn’t wish for a more loyal secretary of state than the woman who at one time wanted to be president and see 17 million Americans at the primaries. America’s top diplomat doesn’t complain, doesn’t rant, doesn’t lecture and isn’t arrogant — she gives her country, which is struggling for its supremacy, a face that is looking for partners, not servants. From the beginning it was clear to Obama and Clinton that the citizens might construe the new policies as weaknesses. There is something missing [that is necessary] in order to cherish the “New American Moment” (Hillary Clinton) in history: concrete successes.
No One Doubts Clinton’s Dedication to Obama
“The world is counting on us,” the secretary of state said in September before the Council on Foreign Relations, and no one disagreed. Hopes were high for direct talks between Benjamin Netanyahu and Mohammed Abbas. Such hopes were deceptive. And Hillary Clinton announced, with pleasure, a return to old-fashioned shuttle diplomacy. “The United States can, must, and will lead in this new century,” she vowed before the Council and the world.
But the times of Madeline Albright and the United States as the “indispensable nation” are over. It’s not as if America is now dispensable, but other countries are also achieving the status of indispensability. At least Clinton didn’t still have to prove her competence in foreign policy to the men and women of the “Council,” as she did in her speech the year before.
On the contrary, the president of the council, Richard Haass, pictured her switching positions with the vice president and teaming up with Obama for the 2012 campaign. Witnesses saw how she smiled faintly at the idea and shook her head. Haass is too much of a gentleman and spares her the speculation of how America would be led if she were president. Others are not so classy.
No one can malign Hillary Clinton’s character because she fuels vain intellectual games. And that takes care of Obama’s mysterious weakness, which spoke so fabulously to the Americans during the campaign. But while in office, the cat’s got his tongue. Hillary Clinton is always a fighter, even when she seems tired. Obama always seems tired, even when he pretends to fight.
Obama’s wisdom to place Hillary Clinton in the highest position in his cabinet is, at least externally, being rewarded with absolute loyalty and submission. That does indeed mean that nervous Obama advisors occasionally excite themselves over arbitrary acts in “Hillaryland,” better known as the State Department. Rumors such as this one are going around: When Hillary is instructing her colleagues with the words “that must be submitted to the president,” it is not clear whether she means Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. But no one doubts the fact that she represents Obama’s will.
Few U.S. Secretaries of State Acted as Smoothly
“Town-terviews,” is a compound word of town-hall meetings and interviews. “Town-terviews ” is a term coined by Clinton’s team, referring to her appearances before citizens and interviews during her travels. Few U.S. secretaries of state have acted so smoothly and naturally when they blended in with the people. It is no coincidence that barely anyone had ever won elections. Not Kissinger, not Baker, not Schultz. They were all giants in their profession who were appointed to and removed from their positions.
That means that Hillary Clinton should be proud that hers and Obama’s popularity has repaired the long-damaged image of America, even in the Islamic world. She speaks for the president with the tongue of an angel and calls Iran a “military dictatorship” so that the president doesn’t even have to suggest it. After Chinese cyber-attacks on Google in January, she warned Beijing and Tehran of a “new information curtain,” an iron curtain that would fall on the Internet. She could never guess that today, after the WikiLeaks cable affair, defense of digital freedom would appear to be hypocritical to critics.
“Even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.” That’s what she said at the time, and she was right. Whether the release of 250,000 cables from U.S. diplomats actually constitutes what she calls an “attack on the international community” — “illegal and irresponsible” as she thinks it is — is up for dispute. The U.S. still hasn’t found an American law that Assange supposedly broke.
Hillary Clinton has every right and responsibility as the top U.S. diplomat to make sure that those who are responsible for the information leak are punished and to ensure that confidentiality is guaranteed in a business that can’t survive without it. But it seems strange that Obama’s “bad cop,” who is rhetorically cooperating with Tehran and Pyongyang, is equating WikiLeaks to a sort of cyber al-Qaida and measuring up Assange bin Laden’s caftan. Too much honor, too little fairness and peace.
It has been speculated that Julian Assange is leading a retaliation campaign. His pursuit of Hillary Clinton carries with it a sense of paranoia. What is certain is that he has suggested that Clinton resign at the end of November, on the grounds that she has instructed her U.N. diplomats in New York to spy on the secretary general. Such actions infringe on human rights. According to her instructions, “Private VIP networks used for official communication include passwords and personal encryption keys,” information which America should obtain.
A spokesman for Clinton made it clear that she didn’t write the cable, which means that the cable would have come from the Condoleezza Rice era. It was additionally discovered that the CIA had actually written the cable; otherwise, U.S. diplomats would have ignored it. Maybe. Hillary Clinton won’t and shouldn’t step down. Who would be left for Barack Obama if she left?