Published on 23 Jan 2013

Hillary and Bill – will the Clintons be back in 2016?

I remember the days – in the 1990s – when Hillary Clinton was deemed to be mono-tonal (shrill) and unlikeable as a meddlesome First Lady who was more interested in policy than placemats.

Today, fresh out of hospital and on the eve of retirement as the most widely-travelled Secretary of State in American history, she is at the top her game. Just ask the Senators who were attempting to grill her on Capitol Hill today about the Benghazi killings last September.

Hillary was at times tearful, angry, poignant and poised. She has mastered her brief but also an emotional range that wasn’t obvious before.

She has travelled the world as America’s chief diplomat and although she leaves no major foreign policy legacies she has also made no major mistakes.

Like almost everyone else this administration was blind-sided by the Arab Spring. Washington has tried in vain to shape events that are far beyond its control. It has been relegated to impatient ringside observer and it is too early to tell whether, for instance, Hillary Clinton’s decision to stay out of the fray in Syria and give the Assad regime too many initial chances for self improvement fuelled the civil war or prevented a wider regional conflict. The jury will be out on that for years to come.

So, although she still denies that she intends to run in 2016, I just can’t imagine her putting on the slippers of retirement. Bill, health permitting, probably wouldn’t let her anyway. He adores campaigning and you can just imagine him on the hustings hustling for Hillary next time round. Some people believe they made a deal to that effect many years ago.

It was entertaining to watch the faces of the Senate grandees, Democrats and Republicans who may have to take in Hillary Clinton in a few years.

One up-and-coming Congressman, Republican Luke Messer from Indiana, told me that the Benghazi business showed how she and her boss had taken their eyes off the al-Qaeda ball (see below). They had become complacent ever since the killing of Osama Bin Laden and had wrongly declared the so-called war on terror over and won.

Rep Messer was getting ready to grill the outgoing Secretary of State at the House Foreign Affairs Committee later in the day. He hopes to be giving her a hard time, manners permitting.

What he also hopes is that she won’t even be running for the White House. She and Bill will be hard to beat, he added.

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2 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:

    Matt,

    Not a bad piece that – apart from the stupid paragraph on Syria. Plainly you have much to learn about the Middle East and who instigated the Syrian tragedy.

    You illustrate very well (albeit probably unconsciously) how the office of President of the USA is virtually irrelevant to the governance of that unhappy nation. Real power hasn’t resided in the White House for many decades. The Presidency is mostly the role of an itinerant clerk. Ask Cheney and Rumsfeld and all the other eminence grise that pollute US life.

    Meanwhile, your own role is similar to all other Washington correspondents. You are reduced to reporting on a corrupt, well-paid circus that amounts only to a series of PR exercises and photo oppotunities.

    Now, who was it said “You can fool some of the people some of the time……..”

  2. Michael Alexander says:

    Matt:

    I believe you are accurate in your reporting concerning Hiliary Clinton’s stint as Sevretary of State. It would be overly cynical for us to believe the Obama administration is inept, and exceedingly optimistic for us to think the U.S. could apply a solution to the Syrian uprising without negative reactions in the Middle East.

    Nothing exists in a vacuum in America politics. Your blog report on Sequestration is
    painfully accurate and shows what happens to foreign policy when our country’s leaders act like teenagers instead of adults. We can’t even speak to each other, much less solve the problems of another country.

    I must rely on history to explain the future. Lincoln said, “With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured”.

    A free press is exactly that. Keep doing your job and I’ll continue enjoying the results.

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