Quickie: Portrait of HRC’s Early Tenure at State

Secretary Clinton Addresses U.S. Embassy Staff...Image by america.gov via Flickr

Glenn Kessler
of the Washington Post pens A Team Player Who Stands Apart,” and writes that tension between leading or blending in marks Clinton’s tenure at the State Department (TWP | Saturday, September 19, 2009).

Hillary Clinton has not even reached her first year anniversary as Secretary of State, but with things moving every which way in the global chessboard, I supposed it is tempting to look at her early tenure and see if she is at the top of her game. Excerpts below:

“The portrait that emerges from interviews and from the observation of Clinton’s early tenure is one of an intensely political figure who wants to remain above the fray of day-to-day diplomacy and to work well with her fellow Cabinet members, but who also wants to stand alone from time to time. She has had the self-awareness to know that she is not an expert in diplomacy: One senior aide was assigned to spend the first six months listening to Clinton’s public comments in an effort to discern her foreign policy philosophy.”


“Clinton said her years in the White House, where she watched conflicts among President Bill Clinton’s advisers spill out into the open, have influenced how she operates. “You can disagree with the president, you can argue for different policies, but at the end of the day you have to be part of a team that is there to serve the country and the president who the country elected,” she said. “It may sound very old-fashioned, but that is sort of how I view it.”

About her resource gathering talents:

But if Clinton’s retinue has grated, her skills as a politician and her contacts in Congress and elsewhere have helped her attract accomplished talents and win substantial increases in funding for State in a time of soaring deficits.

About Clinton’s verbal bombs and State’s public affairs:

Some at State have questioned whether Clinton’s proclivity for throwing verbal bombs has undercut her public authority. “When Condi spoke, you knew that was policy,” said one senior State Department official, referring to Clinton’s predecessor, Condoleezza Rice. “When this secretary speaks, you don’t really know.”

“Ironically, the press operation at Clinton’s State Department is so constrained that virtually every public statement issued by its spokesmen must be reviewed by James B. Steinberg, the deputy secretary of state. He said that is an effort to ensure the government speaks with a single, carefully vetted voice.”

Read the whole thing here.

Related Items: