“The best revenge is massive success.” – Frank Sinatra
Ever since Hillary Clinton moved out of Russell 478 and into her new Foggy Bottom digs, she’s faced a steady tide of negative press, catching the most flack for handing a Russian diplomat a “reset” button that actually said “overcharged.” Such gaffes were attributed to an over reliance on her inner political circle as opposed to the vast human capital available to her within the State Dept.
She was seen to be doing too little human rights issues in China and had apologized for the U.S.’s role in the Mexican drug war, suggesting a majority of weapons used to fight it originated in the US, when that number stood at more like 3%.
At the same time, former Clinton lackey and full-time creeper Dick Morris was trying everything to convince us that HRC’s move to State was a spectacular mistake, a ruse on Obama’s part to neutralize her as an external critic while crowding her out of the policy-making process.
On May 26, “The Incredible Shrinking Clintons”:
It may appear odd to describe a secretary of State as marginalized, but Obama has surrounded Hillary with his people and carved up her jurisdiction geographically. Former Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine) is in charge of Arab-Israeli relations. Dennis Ross has Iran. Former U.N. Ambassador Dick Holbrooke has Pakistan and Afghanistan. And Hillary has to share her foreign policy role on the National Security Council (NSC) with Vice President Biden, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, CIA chief Leon Panetta, and NSC staffer Samantha Powers (who once called Hillary a “monster”).
With peers who are competitors and subordinates who can deal directly with the president, Hillary is reduced to announcing foreign aid packages for Pakistan while Holbrooke does the heavy lifting.
Part of Hillary’s problem is the institutional shrinking of the State Department. During the Bush years, while war raged, the Defense Department became more relevant to the conduct of foreign policy. And, under Obama, the financial crisis has propelled the Treasury into the forefront. State, with its emphasis on traditional diplomacy, has been forced to take a back seat. Even though Obama appointed Hillary, he clearly has not been willing to make her a co-president and confines her to the diminished role of her department.
You have to imagine that, at the very least, HRC has her share of awkward moments and enraged thought bubbles as she sits across a table from shrieking ideologue Samantha Powers, who’s made a career of bravely calling genocide bad and expressing concern over “the sins of our allies in the war on terror” like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and…oh, and Israel. Powers hates Hillary and Israel, incidentally two of Hillary’s all-time favorite things.
Morris said as much in an earlier column from February:
While sympathy for Mrs. Clinton is outside the normal fare of these columns, one cannot help but feel that she is surrounded by people who are, at best, strangers and, at worst, enemies. The competition that has historically occupied secretaries of State and national security advisers seems poised to ratchet up to a new level in the current administration.
But something’s changed in the past few weeks. The author of the best-selling fictional tome, Living History, charmed Indonesian youth by appearing on the variety show Awesome, re-branded Obama’s weak diplomacy tactics to conservatives’ liking, set new guidelines for relations with Cuba, and before the ink was dry, jetted off to Cairo to support Obama’s speech to the Muslim world sporting a ruffled hijab that just screams cultural inclusion.
New York Magazine took notice and made HRC’s turnaround a feature in this week’s issue:
Just over a year ago, Clinton was bottoming out in her doomed presidential race, telling reporters she was soldiering on against Obama because, after all, “we all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.” Now, she has turned herself into Obama’s greatest asset, on Capitol Hill as much as around the world, in fashioning a national-security policy that has closed off all policy differences between the former Democratic rivals, co-opted many Republicans, and left the rest of the administration’s opponents astoundingly marginalized.
This is all a stark departure from the bleak picture Morris seems to be painting with a purely speculative brush. It seems that Hillary got her groove back by doing what she does best. Anyone who knows her can tell you she has tremendous managerial acumen and she’s far more effective and charismatic in person, with a knack for positioning herself to minimize the impact any single decision has on perceptions of her.
So, was she victimized by Obama or has the President met his match. It seems to me like a bit of both. She’s happy to carry out his policy agenda as long as it’s helpful to her, and he’s happy believing she really doesn’t have any power.
Although she told George Stephanopoulos that Barack has proven he has what it takes to answer the 3 a.m. call, it’s nice to know Barack can always transfer the call to Clinton, provided Joe Biden’s not tying up the line telling inappropriate anecdotes.
Meanwhile, Bill told the New York Times he couldn’t even get Hillary on her cell phone. “I saw her on CNN talking about Afghanistan. Then she flew to Dallas for something. I don’t know why.” I’m pretty sure Hill warned him back in the 1980’s that he’d get left in the dust, if not earlier.
Check out the full NYMag piece here.