Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama sat down for a rare joint interview with CBS's Steve Kroft, which was aired Sunday night on newsmagazine show 60 Minutes. The interview was arranged at the request of the White House.
The interview, arranged by the White House, at times looked like an infomercial. Obama heaped praise on Hillary Clinton, although he did not commit on endorsing her for a presidential run over Vice President Joe Biden. This was more like an endorsement of her legacy as head of the State Department.
President Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared relaxed and confident at the interview and it was evident that neither expected any hardball questions. The interview, which only lasted 30 minutes, including commercials, heaped praise on the outgoing Secretary of State.
The CBS interview followed a busy week, where Hillary Clinton appeared for testimony on the Benghazi consulate attack. Democrats praised Clinton's performance during her tenure as head of the State Department, while Republicans characterized her performance as failure of leadership.
Clinton, who will be leaving her post is scheduled to be replaced by 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry, who should be confirmed shortly. As Clinton leaves her post and is withdrawing from the spotlight, there is speculation that she is planning another run for president in 2016. Clinton neither confirms nor denies this.
While Clinton gave her Benghazi testimony at Congress last week, there was speculation and hints that Vice President Joe Biden may also be a challenger for the 2016 presidential election. When questioned whether or not President Obama may prefer Hillary Clinton to succeed him in 2016, Obama said:
“You guys in the press are incorrigible,” Obama scolded. “I was literally inaugurated four days ago. And you’re talking about elections four years from now.”
Hillary Clinton would not comment, stating that she is still Secretary of State and as such was not permitted to answer these questions, adding that, in fact, she is not permitted to hear those questions.
The purpose of the interview
Politics has strange bedfellows. We all remember the bitter democratic primaries leading up to the 2008 election, characterized by then Candidate Obama as "This shit would be really interesting if we weren't in the middle of it" Kroft raised the question for the reason of the joint interview. President Obama said that he wanted to recognize Clinton's service publicly:
“I just wanted to have a chance to publicly say thank you, because I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest secretaries of state we’ve had. It has been a great collaboration over the last four years. I’m going to miss her — wish she was sticking around, but she has logged so many miles I can’t begrudge her wanting to take it easy for a little bit.
“But I want the country to appreciate just what an extraordinary role she’s played during the course of my administration. A lot of the successes we’ve had internationally have been because of her hard work.”
The reason for the joint interview was likely more of a public demonstration of mended fences between President Obama and Hillary Clinton. While Hillary was the Secretary of State, even her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was restrained from raising criticism on the president. This interview erased any doubt of an ongoing feud between the two democratic political giants.
On the reason for choosing Hillary Clinton
Kroft asked Obama why he chose Clinton as the Secretary of State. Apparently Clinton struggled with accepting the presidents offer for some time and said only after realizing that if she had won, she would have wanted Obama in her cabinet, she accepted.
President Obama said one of the main reasons he chose Clinton was because she already had international recognition, and he knew he would have to spend significant time at home dealing with the crisis he “inherited.” Clinton related:
“The one thing he did mention was he basically said: `You know, we’ve got this major economic crisis that may push us into a depression. I’m not going to be able to do a lot to satisfy the built-up expectations for our role around the world. So you’re going to have to get out there and, you know, really represent us while I deal with, you know, the economic catastrophe I inherited.” The BlazeForeign Policy
During Hillary Clinton's term as Secretary of State the war in Iraq was ended, although she and he negotiators failed to obtain a Status of Forces Agreement, which would have exempted US troops from Iraqi prosecution. As a result all US troops were withdrawn, leaving Malaki to his own vices. The success of the US mission is still to be determined. The war in Afghanistan is winding down, with US troops scheduled to be withdrawn by the end of this year.
The Arab Spring is still being played out in Egypt, where President Morsi declared a state of emergency yesterday. Syria is in an upheaval, with over 60,000 killed at this point and hundreds of thousands having left the country. The much hailed reset button with Russia is questionable, the Iran nuclear crisis remains unresolved, North Korea is raising its ugly head again, Libya is in turmoil, Northern Africa has become a hotbed for terrorist insurgents and there is the Benghazi consulate attack, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Final Comments on the Interview
Clinton will withdraw from the national headlines and give her some space to breathe and reconsider her political future. Benghazi, as far as Republicans are concerned, will be a thorn in her side. As the effectiveness of the Obama administration's policy is evaluated over the next four years, much of the results will be linked to Hillary Clinton.
Clinton, undoubtedly, had a full plate over the past four years, but her political career is not over. The final chapter on Clinton's legacy is yet to be written.
View Part 1 and 2 of the CBS interview here
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com