Good or Bad for the Jews

"Good or Bad for the Jews"

Many years ago, and for many years, I would travel to Morocco to visit uncles, cousins, and my paternal grandmother. Some lived in Tangiers;...

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Repost from the Recent Past: Hillary Clinton at State

I am writing a longish piece on Édouard Daladier and the lessons we can learn from his ultimately failed struggle against appeasement and tyranny. I am also "supervising" the paving of the backyard, which has now extended to the front patio, and preparing as best I can for the arrival tomorrow of Hartza. So, I hereby offer up a reposting of a piece I wrote over year ago, March 2012, on Hillary Clinton. I thought about this piece as the liberal political machine warms up to promote this rather inept and inconsequential person for the presidency. I think two inept and inconsequential persons in that office in succession is just a bit too much. I think the piece holds up.

Hillary Clinton At State: Mailing It In

We have no foreign policy leadership at the White House or at State. We, in fact, do not have a Secretary of State; we have somebody playing one. As they say in Hollywood, Hillary Clinton is just mailing it in.

By today's devalued standards, Hillary Clinton is not stupid. She is "well-educated," which means she successfully navigated her way through some "elite" degree-granting institution. A crafty, although ethically challenged, hard-nosed American politician, she ably has taken advantage of opportunities that fell into her lap, e.g., her playboy husband became Governor of Arkansas and then President, and used them to her advantage, e.g., a Senate seat, almost the Presidency, and now SecState. As the First Lady of Arkansas, she played the role required of her: she laundered bribes for her husband. That is what Whitewater was about. That was her role at the Rose Law Firm: she would collect and launder the payoffs. She "made" a fortune in cattle futures, right? OK, when will you pay me for that bridge? (Note: The GOP was too stupid to explain the Whitewater affair, and accepted the media line that it was "too complicated" for the public to understand. My Foreign Service friends and I who had spent years in places where that was the role of the First Lady figured it out instantly.)

On the positive side, Hillary Clinton is not overtly anti-American as are some of the political types who have come into the Department, in particular in the Western Hemisphere bureau. She has some notable skills. As noted, she served as Chief Laundress during Governor Bill's tenure in Arkansas. During his run for president, she had charge of dampening the "bimbo eruptions." As First Lady in the White House, she had the point when it came to slamming critics, e.g., "vast right wing conspiracy." She, however, outdrove her headlights when she tried to design a national healthcare plan. That horribly botched effort revealed her lack of managerial and leadership skills, as well as her stunning arrogance. She brought those qualities to the State Department, an organization already flush with poor management, weak leadership, and stunning arrogance. I would note that among arrogant government agencies, State is the Saudi Arabia of arrogance--it has huge proven reserves.

Hillary Clinton is a celebrity who wants prestige. Secretary of State is a pretty good gig for those seeking prestige. You confirm your celebrity status, and the mainstream media labels you a "serious thinker." You will get a lucrative book ghost-written for you. You get to be on TV whenever you want; have cars and planes at your command; people around the world know you; and you have thousands of employees, mostly men, who fawn over you, laugh uproariously at your jokes, and nod like bobble heads on a dashboard while very ostentatiously writing down your words, and . . . wait.

Let's back up.

Let me explain the culture at State. It revolves around public displays of affection for the Secretary; more than that, it is based upon open adoration of the Secretary, who quickly becomes an almost mythical figure possessed of unbounded wisdom and insight. What we have, in other words, is a diluted version of North Korea. Staff meetings ring with statements such as, "the Secretary has said," "the Secretary wants," and "the Secretary was right on point this morning." You have not seen grown people--mostly men--try to outdo themselves praising the Dear Leader until you have gone to a morning meeting at State chaired by somebody who just attended a prior staff meeting chaired by the Secretary. As the kids say, "OMG!" People you thought reasonable, lose all reason, all critical faculties as they rush to appear the Most Loyal Servant of the Secretary. These are supposed to be Americans, defenders of the Great Republic, but you expect them to break into Anna's song, absent the irony,

"Yes, Your Majesty;
No, Your Majesty.
Tell us how low to go, Your Majesty;
Make some more decrees, Your Majesty,
Don't let us up off our knees, Your Majesty.
Give us a kick, if you please, Your Majesty
Give us a kick, if you would, Your Majesty
Oh, That was good, Your Majesty!"

All that's while in public. In private, in unguarded moments, career FSOs often reveal contempt for the Secretary and her "political appointees"--many of whom, truth be told, are worthy of contempt but not for the reasons of the Foreign Service, they are worthy of contempt because they don't like America. In short, this Secretary, as with (most of) her predecessors, comes to believe "her" people adore and respect her. Madam Secretary, I am here to tell you it's an act aimed at getting plum assignments.

Back to our story. As explained in a prior post, there is no foreign policy coming from the White House, except a default position of apology, appeasement, and accommodation. As a wise former colleague told me in an email when I let him know I was writing this piece, which would be very critical of Hillary Clinton as SecState, "A Secretary of State should not, of course, have a policy different from the President's, but that does not mean that what she says, how she says it, and the choices she makes in where she goes and what she does must be without character. We remember Seward's Folly and Marshall's Plan. Powell carried a Doctrine with him. What notable thing can one attach to Hillary Clinton? This is especially important with a President who leads from behind and who reflexively takes the least dramatic (and generally least effective) path to any goal. . . . Hillary, the candidate in 2008 with 'experience', should have provided some appropriate leadership here; she has not." He's absolutely right. Hillary Clinton will go down as either one of the most inconsequential or most damaging Secretaries of State, just as Obama will as president. There is no "Hillary Doctrine." Chortling upon hearing of the death of the insignificant Qaddafi, "We came, we saw, he died," does not cut it as doctrine.

The problem with Hillary Clinton's tenure, however, is more fundamental than the lack of a doctrine. Secretary Clinton has no knowledge of or interest in foreign affairs. She is bored by the substance; has no appreciation for core US interests, or how to defend them; does not understand the correlation between military power and diplomacy; and fritters time ineffectually on marginal issues, e.g., women in Africa. She has a close entourage of mostly "high powered" women, e.g., Cheryl Mills, who come from her political campaigns, draw top government salaries, have no foreign affairs knowledge, and worry only about the Secretary's image. She has entrusted some key programs to this entourage, and they have made a hash. Cheryl Mills, for example, received overall control of the Haiti relief effort. That assistance effort has stagnated, amuck in a bureaucratic mire where nobody knows the policy, the priorities, or even how much money has been raised and spent and on what. No link exists between our generous contributions to Haiti and even minimal political gain for the US. Haiti's leaders cavort with Castro and Chavez, and regularly oppose us at the UN and the OAS. You're in trouble when even Haiti's leaders know they can defy you openly, and you will still pour in the cash.

I have seen the Secretary in meetings with staff and foreign dignitaries. She reads her notes, spews out her talking points, and then gets that 1,000 yard stare. She is not at all interested in the goings on. She looks to her staff to extricate her, and tries to leave as quickly as possible. No decisiveness, no standing up for America, just a fatuous empty pantsuit blandness.

She, after all, is just mailing it in.



  1. Hope you don't mind Diplomad Sir, I nicked a sentence from this post of yours reposting it over on Duffer's site.

    (I'm tempted to defend Arkansas by insisting that whenever the rest of the states say, What has Arkansas ever contributed? --- we did [tho' actually just to rid ourselves of the pair - but who knew the Nation as a whole would actually elect our HillBilly.*])

    The Clintons are Arkansas' Gift to the Nation.

    *Hill"B"illy is an animal distinct from "Hillbilly."


    Oh. I suppose a link is in order:

  2. Oops. 'Pears I forgot to proof. Apologies.


  3. "People you thought reasonable, lose all reason, all critical faculties as they rush to appear the Most Loyal Servant of the Secretary. These are supposed to be Americans, defenders of the Great Republic, but you expect them to break into Anna's song, absent the irony," It's not unique to State. Can't add much to this post, it's about as good as you can get. We do have Kerry now don't we. Obsessed with repairing a "process" while a region burns and is on the brink of nuclear exchanges, just amazing.

    1. I used to say that John Kerry was one of the few people on the planet who would be a worse SecState than Hillary. I still say that.

    2. On those pavers, just make sure your setting bed is well compacted and level (sand base) or if grout not to wet. Do that and other problems won't be too bad to fix.

  4. Arkie, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee, but I will not insult Southern Upland White People by speaking of the Clintons as "Hillbilly". Indeed, I have met too many people from places like the Ozarks, eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, etc.whom I actually liked. To me, the Clintons are "Billary"--Shrillary Shrew and her overstuffed sofa.

    1. Thanks Kepha. Acknowledged.


  5. No point commenting on Shrillary, just another member of the political royalty that the USA is enamoured with in the last quarter century, deposing the King was kinda pointless would not you say? Clinton, Bush, Bush, Clinton (maybe) with some more of both waiting in the wings...sigh.

    "I am also "supervising" the paving of the backyard, which has now extended to the front patio,"..........Oh dear, sounds like a government job.

  6. The thing that I most resent about Her Inevitableness is that because I am a woman, I am expected to back her, unconditionally. That was the thing that p'o'ed me in 2008. That as a woman, my support was taken for granted. Sorry, Sgt. Mom doesn't swing that way. Nice to discover in this venue that she is as useless and a free-rider as I have always suspected her to be. If she had any guts at all, she would have divorced that guy she married as soon as they departed the White House. Or even before.

  7. Or even before.

    Ah Celia,

    I wasn't in the US at the time (properly speaking - US Navy ships I know are "mobile" US Embassies and at the time ...) but/however "Her Inevitableness" got some fair degree of ... oh, I dunno ... some comparisons to dirty diapers back in the 70s.

    Don't know how many outside of Arkansas were ever aware their one-time POTUS was besides being the Gubner:

    but it came to pass during that time, my parents both (not just Dad) found what you seem to be fully cognizant of - Dad being a Reagan appointee [minor] had had a few oh, "differences" I suppose - apparently at some confab in my Ozarks hometown called Bill to his face - with Hillary attending - (forgive my language ETR?) - "A Horse's Ass"

    Mom (normally "demure" - in a hillbilly sense) took exception when Shrillary leapt to "defense" - anyway I was reliably informed, my Mom made, apparently, much the same point as you.

    "Most" non-Arkies probably have no idea what is significant about the phrase "the meeting adjourned unexpectedly early" --- I do wish however I'd had access to KAIT-TV at the time to hear the report my Mom created "a foofaraw" --- our local paper however made no mention [ever] that Bill Clinton was indeed, "A Horse's Ass."

    (Shortly thereafter a "Pool Hall/Arcade" appeared just north of Arkansas' Capitol Building called - "Slick Willy's" next to appropriately Pulaski County's County Jail.)

    Interestingly, some few of Arkansas' northern counties Rodeo Associations "threatened" to sue Dad for insulting horses.

    Anyway Celia - don't be "resentful" (it's a weight on the soul) I'm pretty sure Hillary can not win. This is mostly a media thing. And of course "pundits."

    Candidly, I doubt Hillary will run after this Misadministration - of which she - was integral.

    It's what's known in military courses as - Distraction.

  8. Ann Barnhardt explained very clearly how Hillary turned 1,000 into 100,000. It was very instructive. Supposedly, the "rules" were changed after and it's not possible to launder money that way any more.


    ps. Ann's site is undergoing migration. Wait a few days and the archive should be available.

  9. superb posting, but "what difference does it make?"

    as for John Kerry, you regard him as even worse and am afraid you're so probably right.

  10. thanks for reposting this...I just sent it to a conservative friend of mine who blindly said the other nite..well, she has been a good SOS...I almost choked her..almost...I did let out a curse word...ahem..and she about fell out of her chair in shock...