This is What a Leader Looks Like

Our Hillary… always giving the world something to talk about!

No, I’m not just talking about Hillary’s condemnation of the Qu’ran burning…although I will say this, Hillary’s statement was absolutely *pitch perfect* on that issue, both at the State Department Iftar dinner last night and today at the CFR. Clear and decisive but to the point that this religious bigotry against Muslims that’s been going on

“doesn’t, in any way, represent America or Americans or American Government or American religious or political leadership. And we are, as you’ve seen in the last few days, speaking out.” –HRC, today at the CFR

Hillary did not get sidetracked and give this publicity stunt of hatred any more attention than it already has generated. She redirected us and the world back to who we are as Americans. That is what a leader does. Leads.

Hillary yesterday... September 7, 2010: Secretary Clinton hosted an Iftar to celebrate the Holy Month of Ramadan--a time devoted to worship, contemplation, charity, and fellowship, observed with a daily fast from dawn to sun down. State Deparment Photo by Michael Gross

But, I want to direct your attention to what else Hillary has been saying, because today was a big day for Hillary…today she gave a very important foreign policy speech at the CFR:

As a complete sidenote: with her hair grown out these days, Hillary right now reminds me so much of Hillary Beijing 1995 (“women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights”).

I. love. it! Hillary is free to be Hillary.


Hillary, Beijing 1995

September 8, 2010: Hillary, CFR, Washington DC (Photo credit: KAVEH SARDARI)

The entire speech is a must-see/read for any Hillary “diehards” like myself (and proud of it!), so I’ll leave you with the video and a link to the State department transcript at the end of this post, but before that I just wanted to share with you a few details from her speech and the coverage of it.

Here’s one juicy, gossipy tidbit from President of the CFR Richard Haass’ introduction of Hillary:

Fortunately, today’s speaker, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is experienced in managing the most difficult of situations. And I refer, of course, to her performance this summer as mother of the bride. (Laughter.)

Secretary Clinton is the 67th secretary of State. And as you all know, she has not limited her travels to Rhinebeck. Since she became secretary, she has visited, at last count, some 64 countries, and that amounts to one out of every three countries in the United Nations. She has racked up 350,000 miles in the process, has done all this in just over a year and a half, but still, well more than half a year longer than John C. Calhoun.

Now, speaking of John C. Calhoun — (laughter), who served as vice president before becoming secretary of State, I couldn’t help notice the speculation in some parts that Secretary Clinton might just find herself trading places with Vice President Biden, becoming the Democratic candidate for vice president in 2012. And all I can say is that there’s precedent for this. (Laughter.) There were actually — there were two fellows, named Van Buren and Jefferson, and it worked out pretty well for the two of them. (Laughter.)

Now, speaking of the past, today also marks the seventh time Mrs. Clinton has addressed the Council on Foreign Relations, the sixth time she has done so without a broken arm, and the second time she has been here as secretary of State of the United States.

So Secretary Clinton, it is a privilege and it is a pleasure to welcome you back to the Council on Foreign Relations. (Applause.)

I also caught this headline from Tunku Varadarajan at the Daily Beast — “Hillary Clinton Foreign Policy Speech: Better than Obama…. Hillary’s Home Run of a Speech” :

The secretary of State delivered the best speech of the Obama administration this morning. Tunku Varadarajan on her “new American moment”—and why she’s better than her boss.

Behold the Hillary Doctrine. And heap abundant gratitude—and rose petals if you have them on hand—on the firm, unfussy, deeply reassuring woman who has just offered it up to the world.

In the 20 months since this administration began administering (a verb I use only in the loosest sense), the speech Wednesday morning by Hillary Clinton, delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations, was the first time we have been given an unreserved lift of the heart by any of its members. It was, by far, the best speech of this administration. Whereas her president has frequently wrung his elegant hands, doing the rounds of the world to reassure foreign leaders that America is a cuddly bunny at heart, the secretary of State declared Wednesday that we are all living “a new American moment—a moment when our global leadership is essential.” There was no bowing from her to potentates in robes; there was, instead, a promise that “we will do everything we can to exercise the traditions of American leadership at home and abroad.”

And, that’s just the beginning. It gets better:

In her speech, Clinton referred to the sources of “American might.” The first, of course, is “economic power.” But it is her hailing of the second—America’s “moral authority”—that was so invigorating.

It was Acheson who said: “The most important aspect of the relationship between the president and the secretary of state is that they both understand who is president.” What is so piquant here, in this administration, is not the fact, plain to behold, that Hillary understands that Obama is president. It is the growing sense that Hillary would have made a much, much better president than Obama.

This was from Laura Rozen’s preview of Hillary’s speech at Politico — “Hillary Clinton finds her ‘groove'” :

“She is definitely getting her sea legs; she is past the learning curve and has developed her team and her agenda and her reputation to the point she can really get things done,” former Clinton-era National Security Council official David Rothkopf said.

“With Defense Secretary Robert Gates leaving within a year and [National Security Adviser Jim] Jones probably leaving too … she looks like she is the stable center of it all and the leading figure in the Cabinet.”

What’s more, Rothkopf said, several foreign policy issues with which the administration is contending are now at a point where the State Department’s role is more prominent than the Pentagon’s.

The efforts of Middle East peace envoy Mitchell “are bearing fruit and bringing that issue to the fore … which is a State issue,” Rothkopf noted, while the hand over in Iraq, and critical issues in Afghanistanl, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and with China “are all State issues.”

Clinton “needs to be the real timeline between the president and the [Middle East peace] negotiations,” veteran U.S. Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller told POLITICO. “Neither now should be the desk officer for those talks. … But by upping her involvement — in the substance — she is the pivot if the talks reach a stage where they get serious, just like Kissinger and Nixon and Baker and Bush.”

And, from Rozen’s reporting after the speech, “Clinton: World needs U.S. leadership” :

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday pushed back on America’s sense of domestic crisis and declining power, saying U.S. leadership in the world is more important than ever despite the economic woes at home.

“I know these are difficult days for many Americans, but difficulty and adversity have never defeated, or deflated, our country,” Clinton told the Council on Foreign Relations in her second major foreign policy address to the think tank as secretary of state.

“Let me say it clearly: The United States can, must, and will lead in this new century,” Clinton said. “Indeed, the complexities and connections of today’s world have yielded a new American Moment — a moment when our global leadership is essential, even if we must often lead in new ways.”

“This is a moment that must be seized — through hard work and bold decisions — to lay the foundations for lasting American leadership for decades to come,” she went on, adding that America will not “go it alone. … The world looks to us because America has the reach and resolve to mobilize the shared effort needed to solve problems on a global scale.”

Speaking for almost an hour, Clinton several times connected America’s role in the world with its domestic strength. The State Department, she said, is willing to absorb its share of national security fiscal cutbacks, but asserted “we have to be smart about it.”

Yes, we do have to be smart about it, Hillary. That’s why we need your voice and your smart power out there — you get how the big and small pictures fit together. I wish we had you more on the domestic stage too, but I am glad to have you on the world stage. Keep on fighting for us!

Speaking of which, here’s an extended soundbyte of the part where Hillary got a bit into discussing the national budget (from a foreign policy perspective), upon being prompted during the Q&A section of her CFR speech:

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Richard, first, as I said, I think that our rising debt levels poses a national security threat, and it poses a national security threat in two ways. It undermines our capacity to act in our own interests and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable. And it also sends a message of weakness internationally. I mean, it is very troubling to me that we are losing the ability not only to chart our own destiny, but to have the leverage that comes from this enormously effective economic engine that has powered American values and interests over so many years.
So I don’t think we have a choice. It’s a question of how we decide to deal with this debt and deficit. I mean, it is – we don’t need to go back and sort of re-litigate how we got to where we are. But it is fair to say that we fought two wars without paying for them and we had tax cuts that were not paid for either, and that has been a very deadly combination to fiscal sanity and responsibility.
So the challenge is how we get out of it by making the right decisions, not the wrong decisions. There’s a lot of wrong things we could do that would further undermine our strength. I mean, it is going to be very difficult for those decisions. And I know there’s an election going on and I know that I am, by law, out of politics, but I will say that this is not just a decision for the Congress; it’s a decision for the country. And it’s not a Republican or a Democratic decision. And there are a lot of people who know more about what needs to be done and who, frankly, have a responsible view, whose voices are not being heard right now, and I think that is a great disservice to our nation. Whether one is a Republican or a Democrat, a conservative, a progressive, whatever you call yourself, there is no free lunch and we cannot pretend that there is without doing grave harm to our country and our future generations.

And, now as promised… the video of her speech and the transcript linked below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Here is the link to the State Department transcript of Hillary’s speech.


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