You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Forgiving And Forgetting?

I always thought this assessment of her was too harsh, but where are the people who waved around this article a year ago?

[D]uring those two terms in the White House, Mrs. Clinton did not hold a security clearance. She did not attend National Security Council meetings. She was not given a copy of the president’s daily intelligence briefing. She did not assert herself on the crises in Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda.

Her rivals scoff at the idea that her background gives her any special qualifications for the presidency. Senator Barack Obama has especially questioned “what experiences she’s claiming” as first lady, noting that the job is not the same as being a cabinet member, much less president.

Or critics like this this one:

Over time, Hillary Clinton has succumbed to a strain of Napoleon complex. Her me-centrism has grown from the amorphousness of her position in the White House--the fact that she had no formally-vested powers--just as surely as if she had been the President herself.

What kinds of experience did Hillary Clinton gain from all those trips abroad? She grew accustomed to admiring rose gardens (every wife of every world leader seems to have one) and accepting gifts from children through interpreters. She practiced "the wave," the dressy formal photo-op and the "arrive and hold." She learned how to walk the cordons of different militaries. She perfected the proper facial expression for watching one's husband place wreaths on the graves of fallen soldiers. She grew in patience and fortitude for yet one more staged hospital tour and pass-through observation of women making crafts. She grew familiar with the quick introduction and the brief intimacy and learned how to make the most of surface human interaction. As the timelines of her itineraries reveal, she seldom had the opportunity to meet with foreign women for any meaningful length of time. Indeed the protocol of these trips was stultifying. Hillary Clinton might as well have been Lady Curzon visiting the Raj or Queen Elizabeth on annual progress.

Such cutting opinions were awfully popular at the time. Oddly, I don't see many of the same people condemning Obama for making this allegedly clueless phony his foreign policy point person. Memories are short, I suppose.

--Michael Crowley