When Does Hillary Clinton Get Some Credit?

5 years ago

The New Republic, the same publication whose literary editor once referred to Hillary Clinton as a “hellish housewife” is at it again.  Only this time instead of sinning by degrading an accomplished woman, The New Republic is sinning by pretending she does not exist.

Hillary Clinton at press conference in Cairo, Egypt, July 14, 2012. Photo/AP


In Jonathan Rauch’s TNR article this week, he offers high praise for President Obama’s achievements on the world stage.  Mr. Rauch states that he “never drank the Obama Kool-Aid in 2008” but at least on matters of a “post-partisan, pragmatic, generally successful foreign policy, he now “hereby eat[s] half a crow”:

Two major surprises have marked [Obama’s] presidency, one negative, one positive. On the downside, the silver-tongued orator who inspired millions as a candidate turned out to be a mediocre communicator as president. On the upside, the greenhorn candidate who had barely any experience of, or interest in, foreign policy has proved to be an impressively adept presidential diplomat. On almost every front ­internationally, he has improved the country’s position since 2008.

An adept presidential “diplomat”?  He is no diplomat.  He is the President.  His chief diplomat has a name and her name is Hillary Clinton.  The “adept diplomat,” widely recognized by left and right alike to be a superb Secretary of State, is arguably the one improving our position around the world, if anyone is, putting out fires with a toughness that has her nicknamed “the iron fist in the velvet glove.”  And often, she is smoothing over the President’s gaffes.  Clinton is the one holding “town-terviews” in every foreign country she visits to raise awareness about the U.S., to share our values and improve our image worldwide.  She is the one tirelessly fighting for women’s rights and gay rights.  She is his Secretary of State, which is not the same as being his secretary.  She does more than run his errands.

Out of curiosity, does it strike Mr. Rauch as a coincidence that the area which has prompted him to “hereby eat half a crow” about his previous Obama skepticism is the one area where Hillary’s footprints can be found?  These are the foreign policy successes Mr. Rauch notes:

  • Ending two wars.
  • Stabilizing relations with Russia.
  • Stabilizing relations with China.
  • Isolating Iran.
  • Strengthening America’s brand.
  • Prosecuting the war on terror.

Whether or not you agree with Rauch’s assessment, Hillary Clinton’s name is not mentioned anywhere in his article.  While it is politics as usual that the President gets the credit for the work of the people he appoints, does anyone really believe that Mr. Rauch’s so called “greenhorn,” who racked up barely two years in the Senate before running for the Presidency, figured this all out by himself?  Or that getting Osama bin Laden didn’t have Secretary Clinton’s, Secretary Gates’ and Leon Panetta’s fingerprints all over it?  Wasn’t it Hillary who called out certain elements in Pakistan for knowing the whereabouts of bin Laden a year before the raid?  While she retracted those statements after the fact, and we can speculate as to the reasons for this, it would seem that when it counted, she was applying pressure by stirring the pot.

Typical that some are filled with such bitterness towards her, they cannot bring themselves to utter one kind or even acknowledging word.  This reminds me of the New York-based Hasidic newspaper that, for religious reasons, literally airbrushed Hillary Clinton out of the photo, (and out of history), where the President and senior staff were watching as Seal Team Six executed the raid on Bin Laden.

An article by Edward Isaac-Dovere in Friday’s Politico on the other hand, called Hillary Clinton President Obama’s Foreign Policy Shield: 

“For all of my life, this might be the first campaign that we’ve gone into where Democrats are ahead on foreign policy,” former Clinton political consultant James Carville said. “I was told before that it mattered when we were behind. She can take some credit for a political party that for a long time has been behind on a key element, that we’re now ahead.”

2008 McCain strategist Steve Schmidt noted:

“She provides a big shield for the president on any number of [foreign policy] issues….Any time you can lay claim to one of the most popular people in the country and one of the most admired people in the country, then it’s a benefit for you.”

Pundits who have unearthed a sudden willingness to give Secretary Clinton favorable press are arguably doing so because that too helps the President's chances; a not so subtle hat tip to millions of her supporters who still burn from the injustice of their past coverage.  I doubt they would still be kind if she were to throw her hat back in the ring -- should 2016 unfold that way.

At the moment, however, political operatives clearly see Secretary Clinton’s hard work and toughness as bolstering the argument for President Obama to win a second term.  First, this is ironic because Clinton lost votes in the 2008 primary since she was considered more hawkish than Mr. Obama, whereas she found his campaign’s foreign policy notions naïve.  Secondly, calling Secretary Clinton his “shield” and also, presumably, declaring that she bolsters his re-election chances is tricky since she has been unrelenting in her assertion that she will step down at the end of this year.

What kind of a message does it send that a woman is acknowledged for her achievements only to benefit the man or not at all?

Once Hillary is no longer President Obama's shield – whether invisible to Mr. Rauch or otherwise – let’s see if he’s “eating half a crow” then.

uly 6, 2012 - Paris (Ile De France, France - Entretien Francois Hollande President de la Republique et Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton Ssecretaire d Etat des Etats-Unis a L Elysee. (Credit Image: © Panoramic/ZUMAPRESS.com)



Anita Finlay is the author of Dirty Words on Clean Skin: Sexism and Sabotage, a Hillary Supporter's Rude Awakening, available on Amazon in print and kindle editions.

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