Hillary Clinton has been accused in recent years of riding coattails and following big men through the doors of power. For her historic candidacy for the Democratic Nomination, she was eschewed and derided, told to “iron shirts” and mocked for choking up. On these very pages, she was told to step aside once the nomination was secured, rather than hold her personal ambition up over the good of the Party and the Nation. And while the path she trods now is not the one she’d have chosen had she been able to write the script, it seems that she, like President Obama, can look to the past perhaps to see her future.
Thomas Jefferson was a young man when he was tasked with writing the Declaration of Independence. Thirteen years later, when George Washington was elected unanimously to lead our infant nation, Jefferson was tapped to serve as the first Ambassador of the United States to the world. Much like Secretary Clinton is at this very moment traversing Asia, signing accords to draw down US military presence in Japan while “extending the hand” to North Korea, visiting the President’s childhood home in Indonesia and navigating the United States’ role in South Korea, Jefferson was sent abroad soon after his swearing in to make plain the intentions of the United States to those corners of the world concerned with our intent and prescient enough to understand that we had achieved “that separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of Nature’s God entitle[d]” us. Jefferson’s service then moved closer to home, as he served the second president, John Adams as Vice President, and being elected as the nation’s third president.
Watching Secretary Clinton step off the plane on her first sojourn as the nation’s ambassador gave me a sense of quiet relief. The ridiculous nattering about whether she’d be able to subsume her ego to the task, whether she’d chafe working for President Obama, whether there were too many egos on the national security team all fell into white noise. I do notice, by the way, that none of the skepticism or criticism had to do with her capabilities or dedication to service, which should be the criteria.
Secretary Clinton is, as did Jefferson, representing the United States abroad and assisting the President with foreign policy by applying her acumen to the tasks at hand: Japan, China, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Cuba, Israel and Gaza. In the next eight years, she will prove as she did in the Senate that she is capable, courageous, personable, intelligent, and successful.
Jefferson moved from State to the White House over the course of twelve years. I don’t think it will take her that long. Clinton 2016. You heard it here first.