Tonawanda News

Columns

February 4, 2013

Hillary Clinton: The ultimate team player

Tonawanda News — There is an irony in Foggy Bottom, the Washington, D.C. neighborhood that is home to America’s diplomatic corps at the State Department.

Just as President Barack Obama was starting anew just a few Metro stops down the blue line, his former rival, Hillary Clinton, was finishing perhaps the most surprising chapter yet in a political career that has at points transcended and typified American politics.

Of the major players in Obama’s administration over the first term there’s little argument the single largest benefactor of four years in the Washington tempest has been the woman who would have been president. The irony, again, is that Hillary losing a seemingly inevitable nomination has made a second try — should she choose to run — even more inevitable than the last time, and perhaps enough to get her over the finish line.

My impression of Clinton’s time at the State Department falls much in line with her time as New York’s junior senator. She was surprisingly discreet, though generally perceived as efficient and capable. This, despite the fact her uncanny ability to hone in and address complex issues makes it nearly impossible to offer a simple critique of her performance.

As many retrospectives on her tenure as secretary have pointed out, her instincts tended to run ahead of a White House that made many important foreign policy decisions at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — and fell short of the far-reaching agenda Clinton frequently pushed behind the scenes.

Surely, a part of her legacy is the sad and ultimately preventable death of an American ambassador and three others in Libya. As the head of the agency, Clinton bears responsibility for the inadequate security detail guarding the diplomats in an extremely volatile corner of the world, though it seems easier to assign blame with the benefit of hindsight.

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