Hillary Rodham Clinton got an early valentine from President Obama, leaving Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to celebrate Groundhog Day alone. Perhaps the veep sees a shadow already (you can’t blame him for looking over his shoulder), and he’ll burrow underground.
CBS News should have employed the entire string section of the National Symphony Orchestra for enough violins to accompany its “60 Minutes” interview with Hillary and the president. Mr. Obama invited himself to accompany Hillary, whom he said would go down as “one of our finest secretaries of state.” That puts her right up there with several secretaries who accomplished a lot more than she has: William Seward, who helped keep the French and British from recognizing the Confederacy; George C. Marshall and the Marshall Plan that brought Europe back from the dead after World War II; and Henry Kissinger, who opened diplomatic relations with Communist China. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster also helped set the standard for the “finest” as secretary of state.
None of those worthies, however, flew the skies, friendly and otherwise, like Hillary, who made it to 112 countries. The president owed her, though, for her ability to evade, waffle and tap dance past the congressional egoists who barely laid a hand on her in the Benghazi hearings. The congressmen, particularly the Democrats, preened but asked no penetrating questions. She took “responsibility,” diluting and diminishing the word and depriving it of its meaning. We still don’t know why and how the desperate pleas for help from Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens never reached her desk. She took “responsibility” but blamed the State Department mice. Nevertheless, she ran interference for the president, shielding him with satin and lace rhetoric.
The president said she laid the groundwork for ending the war in Iraq, and established a standard “of professionalism and teamwork in our Cabinet.” You could almost hear girlish giggling in her delight that her relationship with the president grew so close, so warm and fuzzy. Sometimes their shared understanding “doesn’t take words.” Neither, however, could point to major Hillary accomplishments, beyond assurances that we live in a “dangerous” and “complicated” world, requiring “a steady hand” and “thoughtful analysis.” Didn’t everybody already know that?
Hillary is the poster woman (we don’t dare call her a girl) for feminists, just for achieving high office, even if she has so far missed becoming the top banana. She’s a study in the ascendency of female power in America, leaving Foggy Bottom just as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of “The Feminine Mystique,” Betty Friedan’s book that set off the revolution.
For those too young to remember, the book appeared in 1963, when jobs were advertised in newspapers separately for men and women, when a woman went to college to get her “Mrs.” degree. (Ha, ha.) The feminist revolution freed middle-class women like Hillary to compete with men academically and professionally, enabling them to choose whether to take roles as mothers, professionals or to mix and match.
Now women comprise the majority in medical, law and other graduate schools and in certain professions, testimony to the changes that made Hillary a star, but not before she paid her dues as a transitional figure. In defending her position as the wife of the governor of Arkansas and candidate for president, she said she wouldn’t “stay home and bake cookies.” It was a cute remark, but she apologized for demeaning the role of homemakers. She corrected herself and learned diplomacy. She deserves credit.
That doesn’t justify lionizing her by overstating her accomplishments just because she’s a woman. There’s a difference between being good and being great in a job. She didn’t accomplish some things she should have. She didn’t “reset” relations with Russia, not even persuading the Russians not to close the door on American adoption of unwanted and neglected Russian orphans.
No Clinton Plan or Clinton Doctrine marks her four years. She has been no more successful than her husband was in forging authentic peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Iran continues to move toward developing a nuclear bomb. North Korea is still hard at work on a missile to drop a nuclear weapon on the United States.
The “60 Minutes” interviewer focused on her relationship with the president as if they were rock stars in a People magazine profile, and whether this was a sly endorsement for her in 2016. This was softball journalism by “60 Minutes” that was once famous for its tough interviews. Steve Kroft, the interviewer, conceded to a colleague afterward that Mr. Obama “knows that we’re not going to play gotcha with him, that we’re not going to go out of our way to make him look bad or stupid.” Hillary has in fact “come a long way baby,” but she has a way to go before she collects her valentines at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Suzanne Fields is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.