Hillary Clinton, ‘Natural Diplomat’

Having initially been highly skeptical of Hillary Clinton’s appointment as Secretary of State, partly on the basis that she had neither diplomatic experience nor a diplomatic temperament, I feel obliged to pass on this observation from Joe Klein (via Andrew Sullivan):

Clinton, who can be spiky, has re-emerged as a natural diplomat. When she heard that Holbrooke and General David Petraeus had never met, she invited them over to her Washington home on a Friday night before the Inauguration. The two men spent two hours in front of a roaring fire with Clinton, getting to know each other, talking about the diplomatic and military division of labor in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Clinton’s was an Obamian gesture — enticing the lion to lie down with the lion — the sort of attention to detail that seems to have been replicated across the policymaking spectrum during the Obama transition.

One fireside chat with elite Americans does not a foreign diplomat make. But it’s one bit of evidence that she may have the right temperament after all.  Which would be a good thing, seeing as how she was confirmed easily yesterday.

Photo from Reuters Pictures

FILED UNDER: General, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    Frankly, james, my own initial reaction is that if Hillary Clinton is to be considered a natural diplomat, given all the baggage she brings with her, it does not speak well of people already in the field of diplomacy, in terms of honesty, termperment, and so on.

    I would certainly expect Saint Andrew the Incontinent and Klein to both be scrambling to find warm and fuzzy things to say about her; their position as shills for the left having been long ago secured; They’re simply holding up their end. (Which in Sullivan’s case, brings up mental pictures best left alone)

    But If I’m in the field of diplomacy, I think I’ve just been insulted in the worst way.

    On the other hand, if the statement is true, perhaps we have now a better understanding of why diplomacy in the hands of the Democrats has been such an abysmal failure. The Middle East, and Jimmy Carter, for example… and if so, that would seem to suggest we’re in for a number of even more glorious failures at the hands of the left because of their over-dependence on ‘diplomacy’… at a time when we can least afford such.

  2. John Burgess says:

    Bithead: I worked, as a diplomat, with Ms Clinton and her ‘Vital Voices’ program in N. Ireland, back in the 90s. She is, in all senses of the word, ‘diplomatic’. As a former diplomat, I don’t feel dissed by calling her ‘a natural’.

    Those skills, though, don’t exactly erase the question of baggage you raise. The baggage is Bill, his foundation and library, and the fund-raising involved in that.

    Still, I’d like to think that her opinions are not for sale, at least for the low prices involved in those donations.

    I’ll accept, for the sake of argument, that ‘everyone has his/her price’. I know that I certainly did! But my price exceeded the tens or hundreds of millions. I would certainly hope that her ego is sufficiently sturdy that her price would be in the billions as well.

    BTW, I am in no wise a friend of Bill or Hillary. They make my skin crawl for numerous and varied reasons. But being influenced by donations is not one of those reasons.

  3. Bithead says:

    Bithead: I worked, as a diplomat, with Ms Clinton and her ‘Vital Voices’ program in N. Ireland, back in the 90s. She is, in all senses of the word, ‘diplomatic’. As a former diplomat, I don’t feel dissed by calling her ‘a natural’.

    Apparently, there were no tossable ashtrays to hand, then? (/snark)

    Those skills, though, don’t exactly erase the question of baggage you raise. The baggage is Bill, his foundation and library, and the fund-raising involved in that.

    I maintain the illusion that a Diplomat is an honorable profession by the nature of the work. It’s on that basis where my discomfort with Mrs Clinton being attrubuted that title lies. Her actions both in financial support of “The Trailer” and in other matters as well, lead me to the understanding that honor is a trait she seriously lacks. Since that is a reading that I think is hardly unique, and one that is shared by a number of world leaders, I wonder what her embassage represents to them. What kind of image are we sending? And what kind of damage are we doing the title?

  4. Leisureguy says:

    Maybe she can get lessons from the highly successful diplomat and Secretary of State Condi Rice.

  5. Bithead says:

    I wonder if she’d be smart enough to do that, actually. I tend to doubt it, being rather full of herself.

  6. Davebo says:

    Bithead complaining about Dems and foreign policy is absolutely hilarious.

    Did the Democrats spend hundreds of billions of dollars transforming Iraq, once a hated enemy of Iran, into their new proxy state?

    I don’t remember that.

    Is China’s position weaker or stronger after the last 8 years?

    I could go on and on…

  7. Bithead says:

    I wonder if the people of Israel will agree with you.

    Is China’s position weaker or stronger after the last 8 years?

    Is this a function of Bush and foreign policy, or a function of finances as defined by attempts by Democrats to arrange housing loans to people who had no business with housing loans, but are generally Democrat voters?

    I could go on and on…

    No doubt, but you may want to take off the blinders, first.

  8. Michael says:

    I maintain the illusion ….

    That does seem to be your specialty.

  9. just me says:

    I am not convinced she is well suited to Secretary of State, but I also think there is little that makes her absolutely unsuited-at least to the point that the senate wouldn’t confirm her.

    She may be very good at it, and honestly I don’t think she could be any worse than Albright who I was not and still am not impressed with. I think Clinton has a streak of realism in her-I think in some ways Obama has a more Utopian-everyone will come together and sing Kumbaya-belief in foreign policy, where I think Clinton may want to gather around the fire and start singing, but knows it most likely isn’t gonna happen. I think in that at least it will be a plus.

  10. anjin-san says:

    why diplomacy in the hands of the Democrats has been such an abysmal failure. The Middle East, and Jimmy Carter, for example…

    Yes, certainly the many wars between Egypt and Israel since the Carter era prove him to be a total failure in this regard…

  11. anjin-san says:

    I tend to doubt it, being rather full of herself.

    Hmmm. Guess Skippy has never heard the old one about glass houses and throwing stones…

  12. Leisureguy says:

    Bush and Condi Rice have not enjoyed quite the success of Carter in terms of peace in the Mideast.

  13. Michael says:

    Yes, certainly the many wars between Egypt and Israel since the Carter era prove him to be a total failure in this regard…

    Bush and Condi Rice have not enjoyed quite the success of Carter in terms of peace in the Mideast.

    The problem you guys have is that you assume Bithead equates peace with success. He does not.