Not until the last stage of the Democratic primaries did I consider Hillary Clinton to be a strong woman. Previously, she always seemed someone who had ridden her husband’s coattails to success. Could anyone else so charismatically challenged have leapfrogged over so many politicians who had already won elective office to her party’s nod for the Senate seat vacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s retirement in 2000?
And yet, watching her fight for her party’s presidential nomination eight years later when the media, which had so promoted her in the past and which had regularly run interference for her, had written her off and encouraged her to quit, I saw a new woman emerge, feisty, determined, tenacious.
If she brings those qualities to the State Department, she could succeed where the incumbent Secretary has failed. Much as I admire Condoleezza Rice, clearly one of the most intelligent women in America, she has yielded to her department’s permanent bureaucracy all too often these past four years.
I just don’t see Mrs. Clinton giving in to those arrogant apparatchiks. Indeed, I see her standing up to them should they try to thwart her initiatives as she stood up to the media (and the man who tapped her for the State Depament) in the final months of the primary campaign.
Let’s just hope those initiatives reflect her rhetoric in that stage of the campaign. Commentary‘s Abe Greenwald seems to think they will, complimenting perhaps the “bold Bush policy” with “better PR.”
While our nation had many good Secretaries of State (and at least three great ones, Acheson, Dulles and Shultz) during the Cold War, for the passed two decades, we’ve had only mediocrities and incompetents. But, HIllary lacks one thing which made otherwise qualified individuals mediocre at State, she is her own person, or at least, has been, since the media abandoned her last spring (or maybe even earlier).
This is not to say that I dismiss her ethical lapses, but just to say it’s entirely possible she could succeed at State.
But, as I say that, note I say “possible” and that I title this post with a question.