New York Magazine has a piece on Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Peter Keating notes in New York that Clinton “has steadily accumulated power while expending hardly any political capital.”
In this Clinton has “stirred an effective mix of politicos and diplomats into the top tiers of the State Department” and Keating notes, she “hasn’t made mistakes.”
Meanwhile, nobody else has developed an alternative foreign-policy power center within the administration. Obama likes Biden, but the vice-president is no match for Hillary in mano-a-mano bureaucratic combat. For example, Clinton favored sending 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan, while Biden opposed the move. The result: “She crushed him,” according to Republican Mark Kirk of Ilinois. At the same time, National Security Adviser Jim Jones has been an utter cipher; when Time’s Mark Halperin graded the Obama administration, he gave Hillary an A- (“significant, powerful, worldly, respected”), but had to give Jones an “incomplete.” And Obama’s presidential envoys, such as Richard Holbrooke in Afghanistan and Dennis Ross in Iran, are mostly old Clinton hands who aren’t about to usurp any authority from Hillary.
In public, Clinton has spent the last six months fundamentally realigning American foreign policy away from reliance on military force, toward what she calls (in a wise abandonment of the lefty academic phrase “soft power”) “smart power” — more diplomacy and international economic assistance. She has also been striving to ensure zero daylight between her and Obama on any issue, big or small, whatever positions she might have taken as a New York senator or presidential candidate. If Clinton minds toiling in Obama’s shadow, or representing her former rival as America’s best face to the world, she hasn’t shown it.
Hillary’s new job as Secretary of State has “brought out her cheerfulness and indefatigability at the same time.” And, she’s become “a master of selling Obama simply by stating her support for him. And conversely, by expressing that support as an act of volition, she is demonstrating her power, if not her independence.”
All in all, Hillary has proven herself as a “good soldier,” as many of us knew she would.