The Hillary Legacy, Debated.

What is Hillary’s real legacy as Sec State? Her presidential political ambitions necessitate posturing from left and right. George Packer reminds us that she (and her boss) “inherited two unwinnable wars, a toxic international atmosphere in which America was reviled where it wasn’t ignored, and a badly diminished stock of national power.”

Even so, positioning is required:

But some people close to Mrs. Clinton worry that, because of the high profile given to her work for women’s rights, and the headlines now being generated by the hyperkinetic Mr. Kerry, her efforts on trickier diplomatic situations have been eclipsed.What about her 13 trips to Libya in 2011 to build the coalition that led to the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, they ask. Why is no one talking about how she brokered a cease-fire in Gaza? Anyone remember that she furthered economic sanctions on North Korea?The struggle to define Mrs. Clinton’s accomplishments at the State Department has intensified in recent days as Mr. Kerry and his latest assertive diplomatic effort — a successful push for an agreement with Iran that would temporarily curb the country’s nuclear program — have drawn tough comparisons with Mrs. Clinton.

via Clinton Seeks State Dept. Legacy Beyond That of Globe-Trotter –



17 thoughts on “The Hillary Legacy, Debated.”

  1. I find it hard to believe how any neutral person could see Clinton as anything but a failure as SoS. The NY Times article mentions Benghazi just long enough to discredit an inconsequential witness, without actually acknowledging the facts that led to an ambassador being killed. They quote Kerry saying nobody has done more than her to advance the cause of women. Really? If that’s the case, where is the concrete evidence of her “advancing” their cause? According to the New Yorker article, it is because she held public events where women could ask her questions. That sounds less like a great Secretary of State and more like what every female celebrity does on Twitter every once in a while.

    Additionally, the NY Times mentions a Pew poll showing how relations with Western Europe improved, and yet completely ignored the same poll (quoted in the WaPo article) saying that support for the U.S. in the Middle East was lower than it was during the Bush administration. Maybe it’s just me, but the fact that Pakistan and Egypt think worse of us is more news-worthy than dancing in South Africa and partying in Colombia. This coverage, however, is typical of how the media loves Hillary Clinton. It’s almost amusing that articles touting her as a great SoS have to use vague examples of her “helping women” as her most notable achievement. I can only imagine what the coverage would be like if she actually had accomplished something.

  2. I give a hearty “hear hear!” to everything Ian said. It is without argument that she has gotten some things done while in office. However, this is one difficult position to be in and doing a little here and there to further some rights of some people and fruitless attempts at keeping peace are not enough to be considered a good Secretary of State. As mentioned, if she is such an advocate for women’s rights, where are the results of that? Because I have sure never heard tell or seen for myself the fruits of that labor. To say that she has done more to advance the rights of women is almost offensive to the numerous men and women who have worked tirelessly to secure more rights for women around the world. One thing is for sure: compared to all of the noise that John Kerry is making as secretary of state with all of the current peace talks in the Middle East, Hillary Clinton did nothing much of anything. It would be unfair to say that she did nothing good while she held that office, but it currently seems to be the office of once-democrat-presidential-hopefuls with deep pockets who demand to still be on the political scene. Good thing John Kerry seems to be doing pretty well!

  3. The article says that John Kerry, “free of presidential ambitions” is willing to enter political minefields. Hillary is not free of political ambitions, quite the opposite in fact. It makes one wonder what that has been effecting in her policies.
    Regardless of other drawbacks and mislabels that others seem to put on her (Kerry), I think that she is an excellent diplomat. She has been able to create new relationships and build off of old ones in a way that has been generally positive for the interests of the United States.

  4. I disagree with the above comment that “this coverage (…) is typical of how the media loves Hillary Clinton.” Really? While she was Secretary of State I found the opposite. I did my capstone on gender and politics, and I studied in depth how the media tends to portray female politicians, and Hillary Clinton was often used as an example. Not only was she criticized a heck of a lot, but often times the comments made about her distracted the public from her actions as a politician and focused on her actions as a woman—one who, no matter how hard she tried, would never be taken as seriously as her male counterparts. “Hillary Clinton is looking mighty haggard these days.” When do you ever see the media discussing the physical appearance of male politicians?
    But alas, I digress.
    Honestly, I do think that she was more hesitant to act than John Kerry is now, but I don’t think that that necessarily means that her performance as Secretary of State was subpar. Generally speaking, the US tends to generate good and able diplomats. And they have to, given the amount of international involvement that the US has. If Hillary Clinton focused some of her office time on promoting women’s rights, why is that a bad thing? Women tend to side with women and feel a natural desire to empower them. There are theorists today that argue that the way women are treated directly affects the outbreak of wars. If that’s the case, then we should be focusing all the more on the physical treatment and needs of women.

    1. Of course she had critics, everyone does, and I certainly wasn’t making the claim that she is universally popular. However, she definitely has been over-hyped by the media, as both the article and some of the commenters below mentioned.

      Despite your claims that she is hindered by being a woman, I would argue that the only reason people even consider her “legacy” as SoS positively is BECAUSE she is a woman. Take away the name and face, put her achievements on a piece of paper as “SoS #1” and see how she stacks up against other Secretaries of State.

      Finally, nobody said that promoting women’s rights is a bad thing. However, if that is your only contribution as Secretary of State, you are definitely not doing your job. Especially when the most concrete example of her achievements in promoting women’s rights is her holding Q&A sessions throughout the world. Oh yeah, and flying a lot. Sounds like a fantastic Secretary of State.

  5. Hillary Clinton is certainly a divisive figure. Those who don’t like her, really don’t like her. I was intrigued by the comments made by Ian and others saying that they haven’t seen anything that Hillary Clinton has done for women. I was fairly uneducated about the subject, so I decided to do some looking and it seems like Hillary has been pretty actively engaged in women’s issues for some time, even up to now. Some relevant links:

    I’d say the above articles paint a picture of somebody pretty involved in women’s issues. eebashaw said above, “As mentioned, if she is such an advocate for women’s rights, where are the results of that? Because I have sure never heard tell or seen for myself the fruits of that labor.” I think it is easy for us to forget just how different life is here in America for a woman than it is in Yemen, the Congo, etc. Something like giving legitimacy to half the world’s population doesn’t happen over night. It is not a one step process. But just because we don’t feel a change in the air doesn’t mean that others don’t feel the impact of her efforts.

    1. Once again, being “involved in women’s issues” doesn’t make you a successful Senator, Diplomat, Secretary of State, or President. It may make you a successful feminist, but as far as I’m aware, that isn’t the job description of the SoS.

      As far as your articles, the WaPo one talks about the most concrete step I’ve seen her take, in creating that initiative. However, even that happened AFTER she was no longer SoS. The only things I’ve seen that occurred during her time as SoS were giving speeches and hosting Q&A’s. And yet somehow that is more critical to her legacy than the fact that she let one of her subordinates die because of horrible negligence? And then lied about it afterwards?

  6. Wow, there is some divided lines on this subject. So I’m just going to come out and say I LOVE Hillary. She has done so much for this country, whether you agree with her political agenda (which, ironically, I do not) I wholeheartedly agree with Luiza on her many points.

    Ever since Hillary gave her famous “Women’s rights are human rights” speech in China, Clinton has long been established for her work on women’s rights. Now that she is free from political ideology, I think she can do more good for more women (as well as her children’s initiative) because she does not have to deal with a lot of bureaucracy. I do not agree that she needs to “to a better job of highlighting how her work on women’s issues ties into national security efforts.” Clinton is unique in her approach to human rights, especially for women, and she does not need to prove that this helps on a national level because it is helping on an international level. Both of these issues, women’s and children’s rights, have been what she was passionate about long before Bill was even president. Let her pursue them! (Also, tell me you’re not excited to read her memoir next June!)

    Also, as a fun fact, the Georgetown’s Institue for Women, Peace and Security (who ran the symposium) is run by Marlenne, who was Hillary’s assistant as First Lady and ended up being the first Global Ambassador for Women’s Issues at Large.

  7. I totally love Hillary! I also hope she runs for presidential office in 2016. I also agree with the above two comments. Hillary has many milestones and achievements under her belt. The fact that she made it to be the Secretary of State shows a lot. People often judge her harder because she is a women. People always act like women in power have more to prove than their male counterparts. While Hillary was the SoS people had nothing but raving reviews. But now that Kerry is there all the work she has done is suddenly insufficient? It is impossible to compare Kerry with Clinton. They have different agendas and different aspirations. Clinton visited more countries than any other secretary of state – clocking in close to a million miles of travel to 112 countries – and on most trips, visiting women’s projects, businesses and activists was a priority for her. She has also been very active in sex-trafficking awareness and prevention. You may not see the effects of her work with women’s right in our country, so you think they are not there. However, she has really made progress in a lot of foreign countries, for example Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Peru and Russia. That is only a tidbit of what she did as a SoS. So it seems to me she was a successful leader and her legacy will continue to live on.

    1. I’m sorry, but what milestones and achievements does she have under her belt?? The fact that “she made it to be the Secretary of State?” Even if she was a horrible one, just the fact that she made it there makes her a good presidential candidate? Or is it the fact that she’s a woman?

      Again, traveling a lot does not make you a successful SoS. If anything, I would argue it makes her LESS successful, considering her lack of achievements to back it up. Makes all of that traveling a bit of a waste.

  8. I applaud Hilary Clinton’s efforts to improve women’s rights and I think that she has done incredible things in the positions that she has held. I don’t agree that she needs to “do a better job of highlighting how her work on women’s issues ties into national security efforts,” but this article kind of bothered me. It seems to me that is was written to highly praise Hillary Clinton and not look at the things she could have improved on. This article, to me, seemed to say “look at all the incredible things Hillary Clinton has done that she’s not getting enough credit for.” The role that Clinton plays in this country requires the public and the media to be critical of her. If we all just fawned over her and accepted everything she accomplishes as incredible, without looking at what she could have done better, then we are just hurting ourselves. Sure, we should give her credit where credit is due, but it is our civic duty to make sure she does more than she has done. We constantly want to be improving as a country, which means we need to hold our political leaders to a higher standard.

  9. I’m going to throw something new into the ring of discussion and say that I worry about a Hillary candidacy because I fear a repeat of the culture of our last two presidential elections. That is to say, I fear a candidate gaining the support of a large piece of the American population based on name, party, and media adoration alone. I think that Hillary probably had the potential to be a great leader once, but the truth is that I’m incredibly hesitant to trust her as a direct result of her ties to the provenly fraudulent, power-hungry Obama Administration.

    I’ll wait to see what she has to say about the issues at stake when the time comes for her to speak, and I’ll try to build my opinion off of her merits when the time comes to evaluate. I don’t think we should shut her out because of her name, but I also worry that a large number of Americans will blindly embrace her for the same reason. And if that happens, we might lose out on a wonderful opportunity to embrace a truly competent leader in a very troubled time for our nation.

    1. I 100% agree with your premise here Justin. In fact as I was reading some of these comments my thoughts went the same direction. Obama got 95% of the black vote…why? Does anyone honestly believe that 95% of the blacks voting were completely in line with his policies or just voted for him based on his skin color?

      Same thing here. Lots of girls defending Hillary, and yet no concrete achievements listed. Simply “being” a female Secretary of State doesn’t mean you were or will be an effective leader, just like being black and running for President doesn’t mean you’ll be a good President. And yet, far too many uninformed people just throw their weight behind a certain candidate based on a common characteristic (gender, race, etc) without knowing anything about them.

      1. I disagree with you Ian in the statement that there are lots of girls defending Hillary. There are several groups of women who would not vote for her as the Democratic candidate. She is not a very effective leader. Not to mention that she got out of the Obama administration before things got hairy…probably not a coincidence since she has always had the goal to run in 2016. I can honestly say that women, nor the rest of the country will hold her in the same light that she had in the 2008 election. Overall I think it is safe to assume that she won’t make it very far in the election and that not all women are going to support her.

        1. I certainly hope you’re right Cassidy. I agree with most of what you said, but after seeing the last two elections with Obama, I’m not as optimistic as you are about it.

  10. Frequently the peacemakers in politics are seen as timid or ineffective. But If everyone is clamoring to be the voice that is heard, tension will escalate quickly. I respect Hillary Clinton for establishing a friendly, personable American presence at a time when America was suffering from a devastating loss of global respect. I feel that she adequately represented American government and interests in a positive, diplomatic way. Additionally, when it is stated by her supporters that, “She did not avoid issues for fear they would come back to haunt her in a campaign”–that to me defines a good politician, someone who handles the issues as they need to be handled without regard to how it will affect their personal standing. That especially is what earns her my respect.

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