Monday, November 9, 2009

Quickie: Joe Klein on Hillary's Moment

Over at, Joe Klein has a lengthy piece on the Secretary of State (The State of Hillary: A Mixed Record on the Job | Nov. 05, 2009). Quick excerpts below:

The job of Secretary of State is more thankless than glamorous; in some ways, the Department of State, a noble antique, is still trying to come to terms with the invention of the telephone. In an era when Twitter haiku-messaging rules, diplomacy moves at the speed, and requires the nuanced complexity, of literature. Power has drifted from State to the National Security Council and the Pentagon, especially in wartime. […] There are, however, three qualities that could make her a memorable Secretary of State. She brings a vision of departmental reform — the need to elevate foreign aid programs to the same status and rigorous scrutiny as diplomacy — that could change striped pants into chinos in the developing world. She is also the first elected politician to hold the office since Edmund Muskie briefly did during the Carter Administration, which has enabled her to better understand and interact with the politicians who run places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. But most important, she is an international celebrity with a much higher profile than any of her recent predecessors and the ability — second only to the President's — to change negative attitudes about the U.S. abroad. […] She has the potential to become the most powerful public diplomat the U.S. has fielded in quite some time, although her performance so far, at home and abroad, has occasionally been perplexing. […] In the end, though, Clinton's success will be determined by whether she can expand her role beyond public diplomat. She will have to become a more sure-handed negotiator and, most important, a trusted adviser to a President who knows where he wants to go in the world but hasn't quite figured out how to get there.

Read the whole thing here.

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