The Many Roles Of Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's journey is the only first lady to become a U.S. Senator and then the nation's top diplomat. She's had to develop diplomacy skills, after nearly three decades engaged in rough and tumble politics. Clinton is featured in the latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine. Susan Glasser, the magazine's editor in chief, who wrote the story, offers her insight.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

GUY RAZ, HOST:

Someone else who's been able to attract big political money is Hillary Clinton. There is a lot of speculation over her political future. She's expected to step down as secretary of state in November.

And according to a profile written by Susan Glasser in the upcoming issue of Foreign Policy magazine, Clinton will be leaving the administration on a high.

SUSAN GLASSER: Hillary Clinton, in many ways, is having a moment. She is the most popular that she's been in a long time. She's by far more popular certainly than her boss, Barack Obama. She's, you know, consistently in the upper 60s in terms of her favorability ratings. You could say she's actually the most popular national politician in the United States right now. And yet, this popularity has come at a time when she's been frantically jetting around the world. And my sense is that most Americans, along with a lot of Washington insiders, aren't really sure what she's actually done.

RAZ: So what did you find out? I mean, is there a list that she can sort of tick the boxes off and say, well, I've done this and I've done that, and this has been substantial and so on?

GLASSER: No question. I mean, you know, she and her advisers can point to, you know, a quite impressive if something short of transformative list of accomplishments that she's worked on - everything from the personal diplomacy that she poured not only into the release of the blind dissident in China, which I chronicle in this piece.

RAZ: Chen Guangcheng.

GLASSER: Exactly. But, you know, she played a key role in assembling the coalition from NATO that toppled Moammar Gadhafi last year through the use of NATO air strikes and supporting the rebels on the ground. She has emphasized transforming the State Department into a much more digital era, 21st century-type organization. She has created a four - every four years review modeled on the Pentagon's strategic reviews.

She has touted an Internet freedom agenda and embraced the idea of using technology as a tool to promote democracy around the world. She's been a very activist secretary of state.

RAZ: She's been in the spotlights for more than 20 years. She's a figure of controversy. She's somebody many are fascinated by. When she was brought in as secretary of state, many in the foreign policy establishment argued that America had a lot of work to do to regain some of the goodwill that we had lost in the previous eight years. Has she regained some of that or all of that?

GLASSER: You know, I think that many people perceive that to be one of her biggest successes, is in this sort of soft power department that having such a celebrity secretary of state is a powerful advertisement for brand America. She's proven herself to be quite indefatigable in the role. She's on the road. She's aiming to be, if not the most, one of the most, globetrotting secretaries of state ever. She's already broken the record for numbers of countries visited by a secretary of state. And I think that's very consciously done.

They're trying to deploy her as an asset as a way of saying not only is America back in the world, but we're willing to be partners. This is not unilateral cowboy diplomacy anymore. That's the message of sending Hillary Clinton out there.

And Barack Obama, somewhat perhaps surprisingly to those who watched him in 2008, has proven to be a much more reserved character on the world stage. He's not out and about glad handing, making buddies and pals with his fellow leaders. And so she's proven in that sense to be a pretty good complement to Obama.

RAZ: Susan, what do you think Hillary Clinton will do after November? Because she says she's going to leave government whether the president is re-elected or not. She's serving one term and that's it.

GLASSER: Yes. She said absolutely that she is leaving. I think everybody believes that part. The rest is up in the air.

RAZ: Well, what will she do in the meantime?

GLASSER: You know, very good question. She laughed when I asked her the question, OK, what about 2016?

RAZ: Everybody's wondering if she's going to run for the presidency.

GLASSER: Everybody's wondering if she's going to run for the presidency. She says no. Nobody really believes her. Many of her advisers think that, you know, no matter how many times she says no and in what ways until the last hour, the last minute, the last day, people will be speculating about it, even if she doesn't get in.

When I asked her the question, first she said no, then she stopped, then she laughed. And then she said, you know, even the Chinese were asking me about it in the middle of these very tense negotiations over Chen.

(LAUGHTER)

RAZ: Over the release of Chen Guancheng.

GLASSER: That's right. And they were saying - she said she told them no, and they said, oh, come on. Are you sure? You're so young, 69. It's nothing. You could still run again.

RAZ: She would be 69 then.

GLASSER: She would be turning 69 right before the election.

RAZ: And in those negotiations that eventually led the Chinese to release Chen Guancheng to the - allowed to go to the United States with his family that she was involved with, you suggested in your interview with her that the Chinese may have made that decision as an investment in the future, assuming that she may become president.

(LAUGHTER)

GLASSER: Well, it's a good question. I did suggest that, and, you know, who knows? Both the Chinese who were at the negotiating table and Hillary Clinton are canny, long-term political players. And that, interestingly, is very much how she still sees herself even four years after her presidential campaign. She identifies herself as a politician, and she identifies that as a strength of what she's brought that's different to the job of secretary of state.

RAZ: That's Susan Glasser. She's the editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine. Her new profile of Hillary Clinton is called "Head of State." It's a cover story in the latest issue. Susan Glasser, thanks for coming in.

GLASSER: Thank you so much for having me.

RAZ: And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.