Monday, May 18, 2009

Chicago Tribune asks: What will Hillary say next?

Today while browsing the Trib online, I came across this article by Paul Richter, "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: What will she say next? Her candor is raising eyebrows, questions in U.S. and abroad."

Basically, the article is really quite strange and since it is coming out of my hometown newspaper, I needed to dissect the entire thing.

The article in summary is trying to say (I think) that she is speaking freely, seemingly not worried about the consequences her bold statements may have. Take a look at what the article says:

"Startling U.S. friends and foes alike, Clinton has sent aides scrambling to explain her remarks and has stirred a debate over whether speaking frankly is a good thing for U.S. foreign policy.

"She's saying the emperor has no clothes," said L. Gordon Flake, head of The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation in Washington. "She's saying the things that nobody else would say, but that 99 percent of the people in Washington agree with."

Admirers argue that she was refreshingly stating what everybody knows. Others contend that in diplomacy, it is sometimes better for disagreeable truths to remain unspoken.

Aides said Clinton and President Barack Obama, who speak more than once a week, share views on many areas of foreign policy. While Obama generally prefers his top lieutenants to steer clear of controversy, State Department officials said, Clinton's approach has not drawn a rebuke.

At times, aides have urged Clinton to reconsider her approach but have been rebuffed. Her manner sometimes arouses concern in the State Department's regional bureaus, which generally hear first when foreign governments complain.

Clinton's comments may not seem to be insulting or impolitic on their face. But coming from the nation's chief diplomat, they have raised eyebrows."

The article uses examples of Hillary's remarks on human rights in China as well as her statement on North Korea's role in the six party talks as "implausible, if not impossible."

The end of the short article quotes a State Department official backing Hillary's statements, contending that Clinton's strong denunciation of Islamabad led to greater cooperation from Pakistan.

"They weren't doing anything before she said that. Then after she said it, they suddenly were taking it pretty seriously, and met with greater success," said the official, who declined to be identified because of diplomatic sensitivity. "I think she got their attention."

Personally, I am torn over this article, which doesn't seem to stand on any facts as I can see it... just opinion and quotes from people wishing to remain anonymous. I am glad that Hillary is taking a new approach. Through her speeches and statements you can see an attitude that is very new, different and in my eyes refreshing. But this article seems to suggest that her comments are gaffes and erratic remarks that she is just spewing out to save face or something.

I could not DISAGREE more. All those that know and love Hillary understand that she is the most studious, prepared, and cautious person EVER. She is a very bold speaker and she does speak her mind, but in no way do I think she is a loose cannon or someone that the Obama Administration needs to wrangle in.

Nice try, Richter, but next time try writing this article about good ol' Joe Biden, if you are looking to target someone with loose lips.


Jackie said...

I agree with you. After Hillary said Pakistan was abdicating responsibility, they got their act together. Hillary is a smart woman, she is the last person the Obama administration needs to worry about.

Paula said...

I agree, too. Hillary is redefining the role of SoS and some people aren't yet comfortable with that. Whatever.

However, Richter apparently doesn't know Hillary too well. Everything she says as SoS is intentional and planned. She never just shoots from the hip, and she's making these statements will the full support of Obama, I'm sure.

Stacy said...

The fact is that Richter is really stretching to find something to criticize her about and if this is all he can come up with, well, that is pretty weak.

Hillary brings a certain pragmatism and directness to her job which is refreshing- it's good to hear someone say what everyone is really thinking, but too afraid to say.

I, personally, am hoping she can bring some of her directness and influence to bear on the mid-east peace conflict because it seems like everyone involved (Obama, Netanyahu, officials from both governments) just want to talk in circles and buzz-phrases w/o coming out and saying exactly what they mean.

I will say there was one time when Hillary was very direct where it bothered me- not so much because of the directness itself, but b/c of the implications- when she was in China and said human rights would not be allowed to interfere with economic goals. That said, I have to admit it bothered me because the issue of China's repression of Tibet and their refusal to meet with the Dalai Lama, in addition to their deplorable treatment of their own citizens, is of particular personal interest to me.

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