Is Hillary Clinton really the world’s second-most-powerful woman?
Forbes magazine, which is a respected resource for business leaders, recently came out with a list of the world’s most powerful women. Not surprisingly, Forbes chose German Chancellor Angela Merkel as No. 1. This is doubtless because the conservative Merkel has been trying to get the European Union to shape up. Putting out economic fires in Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal, Germany’s financial strength has been put to the test. Just how much longer can the E.U. rely on Germany’s productivity to subsidize European sloth? Merkel is like the old E.F. Hutton ads on TV: When Angela talks, Europeans listen.
Michelle Obama ranks only eighth on the list. This is somewhat surprising, since it’s hard to gauge how much influence she has with the world’s most powerful man. She recently interrupted a family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, flying back with the president aboard Air Force One. She apparently had read some of the criticisms of her separate flights — and the extra expenses chalked up by the Secret Service to accommodate her. Still, Michelle Obama could be a presidential candidate in 2016 if her husband holds onto his office next year.
Mrs. Obama would have precedent on her side if she contends for the Democratic nomination in 2016. That’s because of the trailblazing efforts of none other than Forbes’s second-most-powerful woman: Hillary Clinton.
This may be the most left-handed compliment ever for the left-leaning secretary of state. Hillary Clinton was subjected early to criticisms — from left-wing blogs — that she had allowed herself to be placed in a “foreign policy burqa” by President Obama, the man who bested her for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Some liberals even went so far as to claim the president had made Mrs. Clinton over as a “Saudi wife.” Those were stinging criticisms.
It’s a bitter irony that Mrs. Clinton left a safe U.S. Senate seat in New York to become Mr. Obama’s compliant assistant at the State Department. Does she really approve of this administration’s anti-Israel policies?
Was she even consulted when the president delivered a highly controversial speech on Israel in May while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was en route to Washington? The president stated that the Israelis needed to consider returning to their pre-1967 borders. Those borders were indefensible and had led to Israel being invaded three times prior to the Six-Day War in 1967.
Mrs. Clinton was nowhere to be seen when Netanyahu gave the president an on-camera rebuttal as they sat together at the White House. There was no fire in the elegant fireplace, but sparks nonetheless flew between the two leaders. Where was the world’s second-most-powerful woman then?
Two days later, President Obama went before a Washington gathering of AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Council, in an effort to distance himself from his earlier rash statements. He should have led with the line about “1967 borders with appropriate swaps of territory,” Mr. Obama confessed, trying to smooth ruffled feathers.
When she was a candidate for U.S. Senate and for president, Hillary Clinton never had to smooth any ruffled feathers of U.S. friends of Israel. How it must have galled the world’s second-most-powerful woman to watch as the world’s most powerful man made a real mess of things.
She had to smile a forced smile and pretend there was nothing amiss. That’s not a role that comes naturally to a miss like Hillary. Correction: A Ms.
Even with the president’s approval rating going south, Hillary Clinton is trapped. She can’t go west — to Iowa. Or north — to New Hampshire. She’s already given notice that she’ll be out as secretary of state in 2013, and she will not run for vice president or president. Why would she do that? That’s a guaranteed way not to gain power in Washington.
It’s hard to imagine the ever-quotable, always-notable Hillary Clinton winding up in such a state. But that’s the revolting state she’s in every day at State.
Speaking of revolting states, it will be most interesting to see what role she’s assigned when the UN General Assembly moves to grant statehood to the Palestinians. Will Secretary of State Clinton be sidelined for that momentous event, too?
Hillary’s place in the Obama administration is like that of Thomas Riley Marshall in the Wilson administration. Vice President Marshall compared his role to a man in a cataleptic state: He cannot speak; he cannot move; he suffers no pain; and yet he is perfectly conscious of everything going on about him.
It’s certainly a most curious fate for someone who’s supposed to be the world’s second-most-powerful woman.
Ken Blackwell, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and is a Senior Fellow at the Family Research Council.