Secretary Clinton to the World: I’m Listening

It should be crystal clear to everyone now why Barack Obama put his faith in Hillary Clinton when he nominated her to be Secretary of State. She’s simply the best person there was for the job and her first trip abroad has shown that from the moment it started.

Everywhere she has gone in Asia, Clinton has tried to highlight some of the tangible ways that the Obama administration hopes to be different from its predecessor: a commitment to address climate change, the appointment of a Middle East peace envoy, a refocusing on Afghanistan and an effort to reach out to longtime U.S. antagonists such as Iran, North Korea and Burma.

The administration is so new that many of these shifts are still wisps of ideas, not fully formed policies. In some areas, such as relegating human rights in China to a side issue, it is uncertain whether Obama’s team will do things much differently than Bush’s.

But as every politician knows, the tone can make all the difference. Clinton has emphasized that she is looking for partnership — or better yet, a “comprehensive partnership” — on these issues.

Her pitch is that the problems of the world — the financial crisis, climate change and extremism — are so overwhelming that no country can handle them alone, certainly not the United States. Remember, she’s saying, how the Bush administration went to war in Iraq virtually by itself (with Clinton’s vote of approval)? That’s in the past. We need help. And we want to listen.

On Tuesday, Secretary Clinton told students at Tokyo University, “My trip here today is to hear your views, because I believe strongly that we learn from listening to one another. And that is, for me, part of what this first trip of mine as secretary of state is about.”

Can you imagine Condi saying something like that on a trip abroad. Not. My, my how times have changed. And for the better. In fact, “there are few better ambassadors for a listening tour” than Hillary Clinton.

And not because she has already conducted one — the famous trip through New York state a decade ago when she contemplated a run for the U.S. Senate — but because the world stage fits her like an old shoe.

She was made for the job. Go read all of Glenn Kessler’s piece in the WaPo.

[Originally published at TaylorMarsh.com]

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