August 14, 2009

Is Hillary Clinton Secretary of State or the First Lady?

"Clinton's agenda makes women's issues a priority" headlines the Boston Globe:
She talked chickens with female farmers in Kenya. She listened to the excruciating stories of rape victims in war-torn eastern Congo. And in South Africa, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited a housing project built by poor women, where she danced with a choir that was singing her name.

Clinton’s seven-country trip to Africa, which ends today, has sent the clearest signal yet that she intends to make women’s rights one of her signature issues and a higher priority than ever before in American diplomacy.

Clinton’s goals include pressing governments to crack down on sexual abuse and retooling US aid programs to put more emphasis on women.
These are worthy things, but speaking of women's issues, this woman, Hillary Clinton, has been subordinated.
Clinton isn’t the first female secretary of state, but neither of her predecessors had her impact abroad as a sort of pop feminist icon....

Clinton mentioned “women’’ or “woman’’ at least 450 times in public comments in her first five months, twice as much as her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice.

Clinton’s interest in global women’s issues is deeply personal, a mission she adopted when her husband was in the White House after the stinging defeat of her health care policy forced her to take a lower profile.
And what now is forcing her to take a lower profile? Condoleezza Rice didn't pay special attention to women's issues because she took on the traditional work of the Secretary of State. Why is Hillary Clinton going back to the traditional work of the First Lady, work that she didn't originally want to be relegated to when she was First Lady, but that she retreated to after her work on health care reform collapsed?

And why bring up the fact that Condoleezza Rice didn't say "woman" and "women" a lot in her speeches and not compare Madeleine Albright too? I think we know the answer. The Boston Globe is straining to put Hillary in a good light, as she is consigned to foreign affairs work that does not involve important American interests. She's doing "women's work," unlike Albright and Rice, and that makes her look inferior. Quick! How can we make that seem superior? Compare her to bad old Condi Rice, who didn't spend her time with female chicken farmers and rape victims. Doesn't that make it look like a step up? No, it's a big step down, and Hillary knows it.

Obama is hogging all the glory, while Hillary is left with the hens. She know it and it's irksome. Look how pissed she is:

At least the collapse of health care reform will fall on Obama this time. I wonder how Hillary feels about that? I think she feels deeply gratified. I think she feels like running for President. In 2012? Is there a path? When she's sitting there in her tight blue pantsuit, panting in the heat of the Congo, where it seems somebody wants only to know what her husband — her infuriatingly charismatic husband — thinks, she's all prickly and ready to snap — quite aptly! — the gears are turning in that head — that don't-tell-me-I'm-ill-coifed head — and she's trying to figure out the way to oust Obama from her rightful place, the presidency.

Let's see: 1. Health care reform collapses, 2. Obama takes the blame for that and other things, 3. His popularity plumments, 4. Some G.O.P. star rises, 5. The Democrats get desperate for a new star of their own, and 6. That star is me! First woman President! Hello! But wait! Here I am in Africa, encouraging female farmers and consoling rape victims. I'm being marginalized, marginalized as a woman — with women. It's so unfair. My plan requires a major achievement or 2 before I resign and mount my new campaign. But I'm penned in and subordinated in Africa — Obama's homeland (in his dreams) — where major achievements are not possible and I'm looking like a First Lady — a used-up First Lady from the past.


Anonymous said...

Bill Clinton is really the Secretary of State. (After all, when the country needed to get those girls out of North Korea, Obama didn't send Hillary on the theory that you shouldn't send a woman to do a man's job).

Hillary just goes around telling people what Bill thinks about things.

Paddy O said...

Is this surprising? Wasn't this always the, somewhat cynical, explanation of why Obama chose Hillary? He exposed her to have to be in public but without any kind of meaty public role. She can't talk on her own behalf, and she has to go where and why the President sends her. Meanwhile, she builds an image of ineffective. Her wins as Secretary of State are Obama's wins. Her losses are her own. Very bad position for her to be in, which is why Secretary of State's seem to never run for President.

Triangle Man said...

Purely speculative on my part, but I think North Korea requested Bill as a way to get back at Hillary for comparing them to unruly children. The alternative, that they wanted to make the U.S. or Obama look weak was off base, it was all personal.

traditionalguy said...

Spot on, Professor. I believe she may just do it. Then she can send Bill to Africa to teach about rape best practices.

The Dude said...

We do not need a free-range Hillary. Keep her penned up with the other hens.

AllenS said...

The reason that you wouldn't want to send Hillary to the world's hotspots is because she tends to draw sniper fire.

WV: gakopers

These are probably the snipers! Yikes!

Irene said...

She is being marginalized. This week, she also drew a parallel between corruption in Nigerian politics and the role of the Bush family in the 2000 election, and few peeped.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Purely speculative on my part, but I think North Korea requested Bill as a way to get back at Hillary for comparing them to unruly children.

Interesting. Bush called them a member of the Axis of Evil and Hillary! calls them unruly children.

And here I thought Hillary was going to bring a fresh face to US diplomacy and all we get is more of the same.

Change we can believe in!

Bissage said...

I have something to report which is both deeply meaningful and highly pertinent, if somewhat cryptic.

It is this. I have recently learned that my mother-in-law now hates Sarah Palin much, much, much more than she ever hated Hillary Clinton, for whom she now feels some amount of pity.

That is all.

wv = jewspr. Don't go there, girlfriend!

Cabbage said...

Why did she agree to take the position? I mean, I expected this sort of thing to happen, and I'm hardly a calculating political operative.

She's plenty damn smart, why did she go along with it?

garage mahal said...

Some G.O.P. star rises,.

A girl can dream, can't she?

DADvocate said...

Hillary has no chance of being predident. Ever.

Obama selected her to appease women. Otherwise, he's keeping her out of the limelight.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Is this surprising? Wasn't this always the, somewhat cynical, explanation of why Obama chose Hillary?

What is surprising is why she took the damn job to begin with. She gave up a lifetime Senate seat to play paddy cake with chicken farmers in Kenya or have a PMS moment with a college kid from the Congo? Yeah that’s a great career move especially considering she is now in a subordinate role to the person who hardly disguised his disdain for her. If she really thought she was going to have some kind of meaningful role in the Obama administration than I for one am glad she’s not president because it shows she’s even dumber than the guy currently in office.

Hoosier Daddy said...

A girl can dream, can't she?

Hey, Sarah is enjoying life and pissing off the demented left. Your girl on the other hand looks like 200lbs of chewed bubblegum and is snapping at poor African kids like the crotchety old bird she is because the former very junior senator from Illinois has her doing such important foreign policy work.

Automatic_Wing said...

What an absurd puff piece. I loved how they close out the article:

If she was regarded by some Americans as cold and self-righteous, she was greeted as a heroine overseas.

Do they not realize that host nations assemble these enthusiastic rent-a-crowds for any American official who shows up in a blue and white airplane? You'd think she was the first Sec State ever to rate a red carpet, a group of cheering locals and a native dance exhibition on a visit to Africa.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

So, is her role to promote the interests of the USA, or to promote the international sisterhood of women? If the latter, fine, she can knock herself out, but then we need a SecState.

Anonymous said...

Poor fool to believe that Obama really wanted her. She got rolled by him twice now.

Which all makes her seem tragically destined for a shopping cart and a lot of bags.

wv ingsaliz - the reassurance given when someone said insalizn't (or wazn't)

William said...

In focus and in the cross hairs. Very satisfying to read.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Well, that's the thing, Quayle. Is she being marginalized by Obama, or is she pursuing her personal agenda and using the SecState office to do it?

"It’s just a constant effort to elevate people who, in their societies, may not even be known by their own leaders," Clinton said in an interview.

Maybe she never wanted to do the job C. Rice did.

SteveR said...

I don't feel the least bit sorry for her. SOS is a bad consolation prize and her taking the job just reinforces why she wasn't a good POTUS choice. Why? Bill would have been lurking around just in a larger way. How ugly would that have been?

DADvocate said...

Hoosier Dad by PMS moment I assume you mean Post Menopausal Syndrome in this case.

Paddy O said...

Yeah, I'm really surprised she took the job too. I'm always surprised when governors leave to take cabinet posts as well. Hillary, in the Senate, could have been a major news maker now with the health care discussion.

I can't come up with any explanation why she thought this would be a good idea--except that she thought getting real international photo opportunities was going to help.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I don't feel the least bit sorry for her. SOS is a bad consolation prize

Well that depends on how the President views the position. Since Obama's idea of 'repairing our image' is to apologize for everything from Hiroshima to killing 29,837,903,384,031.2 innocent Iraqis then there really isn't much for Hillary! to do other than what she's doing now.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Leave it the Democrats to marginalize Hillary, and to Hillary to finish the job my marginalizing herself.

And feminists will continue to defecate on Condi and celebrate Hillary....

traditionalguy said...

LOOSE THOUGHTS: The political network of operatives that the Clintons hold onto means that anything is possible, so long as they go along to get along with Barry for now. Many of the FOBs are already embedded into the current administation. Perhaps a fight for reelection by Obama, if he lives that long,would be a reprise of the Carter and Teddy contest in 1980. But, God forbid, someone arranges for Obama to become a new martyr in another 1963 JFK scenario (ABC News is setting that scenario up as we speak), and Biden bows out gracefully, then we get Hillary and another two for one Presidency. No wonder Michelle hates Hillary like she does.

garage mahal said...

Hey, Sarah is enjoying life and pissing off the demented left. Your girl on the other hand looks like 200lbs of chewed bubblegum and is snapping at poor African kids like the crotchety old bird she is because the former very junior senator from Illinois has her doing such important foreign policy work..

Everything to you guys either a Jerry Springer episode if it has do with the Clintons, or Nazi war footage playing inside your head if it has to do with Obama. It says a lot about what's on your mind than anything. You don't think this narrative of poor Hillary "Always a bridesmaid never a bride!" isn't projection on someone's part? If not where does it come from?

mccullough said...

Hillary should run for governor of New York. Much better job.

There was even a very good President who held that job just before he was elected to the white house.

Can't blame her for leaving the Senate. You have to be there more than 12 years before you get much power.

Anonymous said...

What? A Progressive who doesn't take women seriously and gives them no real authority?


I guess that sexist Bush was a real prig for giving Rice, you know, ACTUAL authority to do stuff.

Darcy said...

I think this analysis is dead on, Althouse. I just don't get why Hillary didn't see this - okay, I'll say it - trap.

Unknown said...

Hillary's plan is working out very well for her. She took the SoS job for several reasons, all of which will lead to her running for POTUS in 2012.

She cannot stand BHO.
She guessed that most issues over the next few years will all be economic, not foreign.
She knows that BHO is a political nitwit who will screw up in his first term (so true).
As a Senator, she would be responsible for pushing Obama's agenda.
As SoS, she is insulated from having to support, push for, or taking blame for BHO's economic agenda.
One of the criticisms against her is that she could not handle foreign leaders.

As SoS, she is working on her resume and distancing herself from BHOs failed policies.

In 2011, when BHO's reelection looks doubtful, she will step down as SoS and run against him, saying she'll clean up his mess, and work to implement all the liberal policies that he couldn't. Oh, and with 3 years as SoS, she has the foreign experience to boot.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Everything to you guys either a Jerry Springer episode if it has do with the Clintons,

Well c'mon garage, you have to admit those two certainly don't make it hard to do such a comparison.

or Nazi war footage playing inside your head if it has to do with Obama.

That's not fair garage. I don't see nazis and hear the Horst Wessel when it comes to Obama. On the contrary, I see red banners, huge messianic posters and hear The International against the backdrop of the call to prayer from the White House minaret.

It says a lot about what's on your mind than anything. You don't think this narrative of poor Hillary "Always a bridesmaid never a bride!" isn't projection on someone's part?

Why would I project such a thing? Garage seriously, the woman has been consumed by political power her whole life. She acted like co-president during Willy's tenure and right after he was out of office she carpetbags to NY to become Senator with her eye on the Presidency only to be kicked to the curb by a former community organizer whose greatest accomplishment Hillary correctly summed up with "He gave a great speech."

I mean can you explain how someone who was so damn smart and politically connected who should by all rights been the shoe-in as the Dem candidate gets upstaged by a no name junior senator whose previous experience was community organizing. Its rather hard for me to project what's already showing on the screen.

SteveR said...

Re: Condi Rice, also different from Ms. Clinton in that Ms. Rice was happy that BHO became president.

traditionalguy said...

It would be funny to see Hillary the feminist defeat Barak the closet muslim man. Maybe Rush will start up encouraging Hillary to get into the campaign for the same reason he encouraged crossover votes in the 2008 Democrat primaries. I do feel in my wise white man's heart, that Hillary Clinton is not about to see Sarah Palin become the first female POTUS without Hillary's going all in herself for that chance, and soon.

David said...

Darcy said...

I just don't get why Hillary didn't see this - okay, I'll say it - trap.

Because Hillary has poor judgment. At every numerous points in her life (health care czar for her husband, Whitewater, commodities trading, Presidential candidacy and Secretary of State, to name a few) she has shown poor judgment. It's a pattern.

demian said...

Wow, really meaty posts today, Ann! Thank you. This, the electromagnetism one and esp. the one on "death panels" are wonderful.

Michael Haz said...

Hillary Clinton? Didn't she used to be the smartest woman an America? Now she's just a second-tier photo op.

She has been handcuffed by her own hubris.

Cedarford said...

Devestating analysis by Althouse.

I'd add that this is Hillary unwittingly pidgeonholing herself as the "womans issues" leader. And doing it willingly - its not like Obama's TelePrompter writers have control over Hillary's speeches. She WANTs to preach as a Former 1st Lady about the MOST IMPORTANT THING (to her) overseas...Womens Causes!
That 5 million are dead by gunshot, disease, and starvation in the Congo is not as important as thousands being raped. The former are not bona fide women's cause issues..but the rapes are...and therefore she paid the most attention to them.
In Kenya, if you polled Kenyan men and women on the 100 most pressing problems...I doubt the plight of female chicken farmers would ven crack the lowest 10 on the list.

Its not just Albright and Rice acting as SOS for the whole American nation on its stance on a broad range international issues...not the "world's females above anything else". It is how divergent Hillary now is as "1st Lady women's advocate now in SOS hat - from other women leaders.

Maybe Napolitano joins her in obsessing about woman's issues 1st and foremost...but people in governor spots like Jodi Rell, Granholm, the Hawaii gal, Palin, even washington's Gov?? No way. To say nothing about true national leaders like Merkel, Thatcher, Sieguer, Argentina's President..

Nope, Hillary is making her own bed. And finding out, like in the White House living quarters, no one wants to share it.

Maxine Weiss said...

Wow. This is a great post, with original writing.

And, you know I usually have nothing good to say about this blog.

Clearly, this is excellent writing.


Synova said...

She might have taken the job because she thought she was going to get to do the job.

Remember how she dove right in to work and started making decisions like she actually had some authority?

And then Obama cut her off at the knees by publicly refuting her appointments?

Synova said...

Women are a subset of humans. Any person who specializes in the issues pertaining to a subset of humans has marginalized him or herself by voluntarily stepping away from more universal human issues.

That advocacy might be plenty important but it is also, necessarily, limited in scope.

It also, in the context of politics and state, in a sort of perverse way, marginalizes the issues themselves because of the inherent assumption that they are something apart from and not fully integrated with, for example, men's issues. Which must be everything ELSE, everything larger and everything more all-encompassing.

Jim C. said...

Her dismal, clumsy performance with the "reset button" for Russia and "I'm Secretary of State, not my husband" show her as unqualified for the position.

Her disgraceful reference to the alleged vote fraud when Bush was elected shows her unfit for any USA public office.

She should resign and take up some role where she can be more effective, such something with NOW.

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

The underlying problem is that Sec State has become unimportant. What important work does the State department do that isn't preempted by the President whenever he feels like it? Anything of real diplomatic importance comes from the White House. Defense is also a lot more powerful and influential than State, with the Defense Secretary conducting diplomacy on his own. The State Department has been declining in power and influence since Nixon.

It's also a quota position where white males need not apply. The last white Secretary was in the Clinton administration. This should be a good indicator that's it's ceased to be a relevant post.

I don't know why Hillary took the job. She had a lot more power in the Senate. Think about it, she could be pushing health care reform right now. Instead, she's... doing something. In the Congo. Or something.

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

There's two explanations for why Clinton took the job:

1. Genuine patriotism and a desire to help. Yes, this is a possibility. How else can we explain why she took on such a worthless job?

2. A desire to retire from politics. She could have stayed in the Senate forever, with an unusual amount of influence for a junior senator. Why not? It seems to me she just wanted an out, something that could be construed as a step up.

She wanted to be President, but it seems to me that she doesn't really like politics that much. At least not enough to stick too it for the 4-8 years needed to take a crack at it again. Or maybe she just gave up. The Senate always was a stepping stone, but it didn't lead anywhere. So why stay?

Eric said...

I like what Derbyshire says on his weekly podcast "Hillary is the Secretary of State for all the places that don't matter."

Anonymous said...

She's panting.

Quick -- get her a breathalyzer.

Uh. Errrr. Uhhhhhh.

An inhalator (not a breathalyzer).

jamboree said...

True as far as it goes; the international stage marginalizes these women's lives, however, I do not, so I give her a pass. It's a difficult situation to actually care about the plight of the other half of mankind because it does make you appear more powerless as well...just ask Hillary voters. There was a tremendous amount of peer pressure to go Obama for this reason alone.

If these third world women were men in the same situation there would likely be all kinds of noble sounding causes, protests, even wars. South Africa now has the highest rape rate in the civilized world. The Congo has the highest violence rate. Does anyone care in that high romantic way they did during Apartheid? Movies? Films? Hollywood Parties? No. And I'm pretty sure you could book Angelina Jolie with a good one.

Bill's Country said...

Enjoyed your post, and the comments.
I was surprised and disappointed she accepted SOS. Appeared as a weakness. On the hand, which is a better position to run for POTUS: as a Senator or SOS? IMO, neither! But slightly better as SOS following the one term senator BO.