Hillary Clinton; Hard Choices: book analysis. Chapter 2: FOGGY BOTTOM: SMART POWER. FUNDAMENTAL POLICY DECISIONS WERE MADE BY OBAMA WTH HIS WHITE HOUSE ADVISORS. WAS SHE MARGINALIZED:?
President Obama took office on January 20 2009, and that was when Hillary took office. Before that she had to assemble a team that could work with the Chief Of Staff Rahm Emmanuel and the White House National Security team. She met with the White House Security Team in Chicago on December 15, 2014. Vice President Joe Biden had been in the leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for years and the President’s National Security Advisor was General James Jones, a former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe . Susan Rice was to be U.N Ambassador. All these people she knew well. (Susan Rice had wanted the National Security Advisor post that went to General Jones . When Hillary resigned her post after four years Rice had her name removed as a candidate for Secretary of State because of her statements on the Benghazi, Libya tragedy.)
Robert Gates remained as Secretary of Defense. He has an old Washington hand and she knew him well. Traditionally State and Defense were often at logger head on many issues. However she and Gates saw eye to eye on major issues. One was that diplomacy (soft power) was to be used to the maximum extent before military power (hard Power). Also Gates believed that State had been under funded compared to Defense and that there should be a better balance in funding between State and Defense. The State budget is approximately 1% of the total national budget, while military spending is approximately 18%.
The Obama administration was determined to use soft power and multilateralism to its maximum advantage. Hillary calls the use of soft power and hard power smart power. This can be seen in Iran where diplomacy supported by economic power coupled with the threat of military power has been the brought to bear on the nuclear issues.
Hillary recruited Cheryl Mills to be her Counselor in Chief. Capricia Marshall was asked to be Chief of Protocol , this last appointment met with some resistance from the White House staff but Hillary got her way .
As for Afghanistan and Pakistan She recruited Richard Holbrooke, in her opinion the première diplomat of our generation appointed as Special Representative For Afghanistan and Pakistan
George Mitchell was appointed Special Representative for the Middle-East. He had worked with her husband to bring peace to Northern Ireland. President Obama approved and came to State for both men’s swearing in ceremony.
At President Obama’s request Jim Steinberg was appointed her Deputy Secretary for Policy. Jack Lew was appointed as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, a position that had been previously unfilled in prior administrations.
She met with Condoleezza Rice on two cordial occasions as well as receiving a letter from her wishing her well as Secretary. She also talked with formers Secretaries, Albright, Christopher, Kissinger, Baker, Powell and Shultz.
After spending weeks preparing for her Senate confirmation hearing on January 3, 2009 she was confirmed by a vote of 94-2.
She took office with the policy of using smart power to its fullest extent possible. This of course was the mantra of the Obama Administration and did not originate with her office although she may have had some input in the formulation of the policy. (This doesn’t sound like a “Team of Rivals but people pretty much all on the same page concerning the implementation of American soft and hard power now known as smart power, to be asserted in coordination with our Allies. Obama and his advisors seem to have kept a tight reign on foreign policy.)
According to David Packer, in the New Yorker, Hillary was an excellent Secretary visiting 112 countries giving speeches and holding town halls with questions and answers explaining American values and policies. However there no major Foreign Policy events like the doctrine of containment, the Marshall Plan or Nixon’s rapprochement with China during her tenure, the pivot to Asia seems to have never happened except in some minor gestures.
Packer says that that Obama denied Clinton the opportunity to be a great Secretary of State “… she and her department were never trusted with the policy blueprints. From Iran and Israel to proliferation and human rights the President has kept policymaking inside the White House, tightly held by a small circle of trusted advisors.”
So Hillary was a ceremonial Secretary of State implementing policy made by the White House and occasionally her voice was heard on policy decisions like the surge in Afghanistan. Obama may have seen her as a rival but as a result she had a small voice in the formulation of policy and apparently she was not on the White House team that made the policy she was obliged to follow.
Obama sought her support in the campaign and he needed prominent woman in his camp and after winning the election she was rewarded with the Secretary Of State position but he did not give her free reign and she was not a significant voice in the formulation of policy.
If there was a Team of Rivals as she says she was mainly out of the loop on policy issues according to David Packer. Thus Hillary in this chapter may telling us indirectly that she was marginalized by Obama and his staff to being an ordinary Secretary of State when a person of her intellect, energy and talent could have been a great Secretary of State.
HILLARY CALMING SUPPORTERS WHILE GIVING THE UNITY SPEECH FOR OBAMA
Hillary says that after the final primaries in Montana and South Dakota when Barack Obama won the popular vote and the delegates securing himself as the Democratic Presidential Candidate he said “let’s sit down when this makes sense for you.” Later she was invited to Dianne Feinstein’s house for a secret meeting with Obama. She says they met alone and he asked her for her support and the support of Bill in the coming campaign. This was June 5th 2008.
On May 31st 2008 the Washington Post opined Biden would be Obama’s choice for Vice President on the Democratic ticket. This was publically announced on August 23 and confirmed by the convention (August 25-28 2008) on the third night.
Hillary says she agreed to actively support his campaign and the day after the meeting, Bill in a telephone call also agreed to campaign
Hillary says nothing about the Vice Presidential position which was still open nor does she mention any other position with the administration. So this challenger who garnered 18 million votes in the primaries committed her support as well as facilitating the support of her husband, both formidable campaigners, without any understanding what her role would be in the administration if Obama won?
Hillary says when they met at Senator Feinstein’s house she, her husband and her staff were still sore and licking their wounds after losing in the primaries.
Particularly there was much rancor that Bill had been labeled a racist in South Carolina by the Obama people. Barack on the other hand was upset by being called a sexist by people on Hillary’s staff. However this was explained away as over exuberance by minor staff people on both sides and not the candidate’s personal views. Thus at the meeting and during the call with Bill the next day these wounds were healed and the union was made. Hillary made the announcement to her staff the next day amid grumbling by some of the diehards.
The Clinton’s campaigned long and hard for Obama and Biden. In August at the Convention she was asked to give the official nominating speech for Obama which she did and called for party unity behind the ticket. However at the roll call the next day she was asked to interrupt it to move for an immediate declaration for Barack Obama as the party’s candidate. By doing this she hoped to forestall some diehard delegates from casting their votes for her highlighting the fact that a woman had won 1009 delegates in the primaries. She did this to eliminate what could have been evidence of a split in the party on prime time television. (The facts are 1010.5 delegates voted for her in the final tally. This appears to be glossed over without explanation.)
Considering all the political power Hillary had and all the work she did during the campaign one wonders why she was not chosen as Vice President rather than Biden whose own candidacy for president had sputtered out after the past misstatements he had made and the inaccuracies in his biography came to light in the Media.
On August 29, 2008 the day after the Democratic Convention John McCain announced Sarah Palin would be his running mate. At the announcement in Dayton Ohio, Palin in her acceptance speech said, “Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all”.
It was a “Hail Mary” pass by McCain to reenergize his foundering campaign which could not draw a crowd to his speeches. He knew little about the inexperienced Palin other than she was Governor of Alaska and was regarded as a maverick just as he thought of himself.
Of course any thoughtful analysis would reveal that Hillary and Sarah were so much unalike that about the only thing they had in common was that they were both married woman with children. So Sarah’s chances of converting Hillary’s female constituency, just because she was a woman, were slim and none and we all know where slim was.
Despite their philosophical and political differences Hillary refused to attack Palin as an inexperienced woman candidate. However as later events revealed this would be unnecessary. (Say what you will about Palin she tied with Michelle Obama recently as the third most admired woman in the United States. Hillary is first and Oprah is number two. So she has a certain charisma too bad it’s not backed up by brains or she would be a serious political candidate.)
After the election Hillary says the president-elect offered her the Secretary of State post. “Reluctantly,” after consulting family and friends she accepted. On January 20, 2009 the new Secretary of State took office. Thus the “Team of Rivals” was in place.
Hillary received $10 million as an advance for this book and so far she seems to be glossing over reality for her expected wide audience consisting of the hoi polloi. I also detect the fine hand of Bill as an editor. I guess the recipe by these too cooks was for plain vanilla pudding topped with whipped facts for the masses.