Monday morning, February 04, 2013 will be the beginning of the next life of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Famous for her staggering work ethic, she has been on the job, she says, from the time she was 13 years old. On Monday there will be–presumably–a reprieve.
In her latest incarnation as Secretary of State she visited 112 countries, traveling nearly a million miles to hold 1,700 meetings with foreign leaders. She concluded this heroic stint with a virulent bug and fall, a concussion, blood clot–and five hours of testimony in Congress on the Benghazi attack. By almost all accounts, she clobbered doubters in Congress–and her doctors predict the same for her lingering health side effects: complete victory.
This week’s farewell tour with the networks, beginning with an unprecedented joint interview with President Obama, has only served to polish up her already shiny reputation. She considers one of her main accomplishments to be the restoration of confidence around the world in America’s ability and readiness to lead–a reputation seriously tarnished during the preceding administration. For Clinton’s lending of her smarts and popularity (nearly 70% approval rating) she deserves, and is getting, the thanks of the American people.
During one of her televised interviews she seemed genuinely not to know that a SuperPac has already been established for her run for president in 2016. At this writing “Ready for Hillary” has almost 52,000 Twitter followers and over 30,000 Facebook fans –with the opportunity of throwing money into a presidential effort coming soon. Hillary Clinton insists that at this point all she knows is that she will write, continue to work for women and girls, and may join up with her husband’s global work.
Like the rest of the world, I am eager to know about the next Hillary adventure. As a reporter I sometimes covered the Clintons–from Little Rock on election night, at the conventions, through the bad times–and believe she has the best shot of becoming our first woman president, and could do it in 2016. Her famous quote about violence against women not being cultural or custom, but criminal, stands out as a line in the sand the world must adhere to.
Today, in one of the final exit appearances, she gave a wide-ranging summation of her tenure at State before members of the Council on Foreign Relations. A guest in the speaker series “Remarks on American Leadership,” Clinton spoke for more than a half hour in a formal address, urging that we must understand that “leadership is not a birthright. It has to be earned by each new generation.” And that what we must do now is build a smart, flexible structure for it, “more Frank Gehry” than the classical Greek architecture we’re accustomed to; that reservoirs of good will will not last forever, they need to be replenished.
The four operative levers as she sees them are: “widening our aperture” to include the people of countries as well as governments, because they increasingly drive the economics and politics of a country; engage civil society in the nuclear non-proliferation agenda; recognize “the new Silk Road” of creating jobs here at home from countries abroad; and finally, what she calls “the unfinished business of the 21st Century”: equality for girls and women, and their inclusion in peace , security and economic building.
And, interestingly, Clinton had much to say about the media: correcting erroneous statements about our country, protecting the freedom of the internet (“the country that built the internet should protect it”), building a 21st Century state of the art approach to social, and all media.
Hillary Clinton had a very big close to her work at the State Department, one that left her in probably the best position of anyone thinking about running for president.
If she is thinking that.