How is Hillary Clinton performing as Secretary of State? New
assessments are rolling in as she marks nearly a year in her role. The
initially seen in part as a way to smooth tensions between
Obama and the Clintons following the rough-and-tumble 2008
Democratic presidential primaries. Now foreign affairs
experts are taking a step back to ask how she's doing as one of America's foremost foreign policy figures. We've gathered the most comprehensive evaluations,
assigning each a subjective grade for how they seem to evaluate her
work on America's behalf.
- C, Hillary's Many Gaffes The New Republic's Michael Crowley wonders
if Clinton has lost her "animatronic ability to stay on message,"
developing "a curious propensity for public statements that require
amendment, clarification, and implicit retraction." Crowley catalogs
Clinton's gaffes abroad, worrying, "Mistakes on the trail can cost
votes. But loose talk in diplomacy can
make it hard for enemies and allies alike to know what’s coming off the
cuff and what represents official U.S. policy." One such flub over
Israel settlements, Crowley writes, led to "months of tension with the
Israelis." He thinks the 2008 presidential campaign might be
instructive. "In some ways, Hillary the candidate never disappeared
[...] Perhaps the campaign feel helps to explain some of Hillary’s
burps. While many people think of Clinton as scripted and cautious,
other facets of her personality--temper, self-assurance, sarcasm--have
always broken through her robotic façade."
- A, Unfairly Maligned Foreign Policy's Annie Lowrey defends Clinton from her critics. "She speaks publicly on literally a world's worth of issues every day. She makes mistakes, sometimes
on purpose, sometimes not, sometimes with effect, sometimes without. To paint with
black and white is to miss a very colorful picture. And ultimately, it is the
press that paints her in such egregiously schizophrenic, love-her-or-hate-her terms." Lowrey earlier praised Clinton, "she's chastened
North Korea, advocated on behalf of Burma, and rallied against Israeli
settlement building. She's logged nearly 100,000 air miles. She's tirelessly
pursued Obama's diplomatic agenda around the world.
she's done it while fostering or demonstrating little friction with the White
House she once hoped to occupy."
- B, Hillary The Hawk The New Republic's Michael Crowley also suggests
that Clinton's had a hawkish influence on White House policy. "We don't
know a whole lot of detail about what Hillary has been counseling in
the Situation Room this fall but it sounds like she's leaning towards
substantially more troops" in Afghanistan. Crowley thinks if she were
president, "we almost surely would have more troops on the way. I don't
dithering would have been the issue for Hillary so much as the fact
that her instincts are simply more hawkish than Obama's."
- D, Clueless Israel Betrayer The Weekly Standard's Rachel Abrams is furious. "Hillary Clinton has arcked pendulously between Israel and the Arabs,
the Arabs and Israel in her various incarnations -- as far back as
1998, with the blood-soaked Arafat at the helm of the PLO, the
then-First Lady’s call for a Palestinian state was quickly walked back by the White House, and she was shortly heard, post-kiss, attacking Suha Arafat for 'inflammatory rhetoric' -- and most conspicuously so of late, from ice to tepid dishwater and back to frosty again."
- A+, Revolutionary Departure From Rice Jonathan Van Meter pens
a very long and very glowing profile of Clinton for Vogue, favorably
contrasting her with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"Through the more than 30
countries she has visited since, Clinton has at the very least proved
how focused and indefatigable she is," he writes.
One of the refrains I kept hearing from reporters was Condi would
never do this. Clinton, a woman from politics, knows how to work
a crowd. Sometimes her motorcade would arrive and she would jump out
and just plunge right in, getting out ahead of her security team, who
often looked a little panicked. She danced her funky little dance at
the dinners held in her honor (as seen on YouTube). In Cape Town, she
threw a party for the press and drank with the best of us, talking for
more than two hours, into the night, with surprising off-the-record
candor about everything from her husband to her disdain for certain
world leaders. She's fun. She laughs at herself. And she is full of
surprisingly sharp, pointy little retorts, barbs, and comebacks. [...]
her—her staff, the press—talks about how she has become
more attractive with age and that photographs do not tell the story.
When you are around her you are constantly struck by her charisma, her
vitality, her confidence. Everywhere she goes people tell her that she
is prettier in person.
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