Sunday, April 25, 2010


Newsweek has an in-depth profile of the Obama-Clinton dynamic, positing that Clinton has become Obama's "bad cop" and a pragmatic ally called in to set up plays where the president has less political flexibility to act.

Among the highlights of the text:

- Their successful tandem eleventh-hour negotiation at the 2009 Copenhagen Summit solidified a professional bond that had yet to find its rhythm and is now considered to have been a milestone in the warming of relations between the two camps.

- The "Clinton-Gates" axis bolsters Clinton's advisory chops in White House. And Clinton's hawkishness, decried by Obama during the campaign, has become a real asset and tool for the president as he often dispatches her out deliver the more delicate messages (to Iran, Russia, Israel) and to toughen the discourse where Obama is politically constrained. And Though some maintain that Clinton is more of an executor rather than a strategizer, the article cites concrete examples of her political impact on the administration's foreign policy - for example Haiti relief, and:

- More on Clinton's advisory impact: "[...]the Clinton-Gates axis was critical to persuading Obama to add another 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, a senior White House official concedes. Clinton has also set a policy of "strategic patience" with North Korea, refusing to offer any new incentives to Pyongyang in order to induce it to return to nuclear-disarmament talks. On Iran, Clinton and the defense secretary have long argued for sanctions sooner rather than later to replace Obama's all-carrots-and-no-sticks offer of engagement in the first year (though she supported the policy at the time). Now they seem to be getting what they want, with a renewed push for another U.N. sanctions resolution. Clinton has pressed for a still-more-aggressive stance on Iran, calling for a U.S. defense umbrella over the Mideast."

A light piece, this article ultimately presents an image of two professional pols wise enough to seize on their commonalities (including a profound appreciation for pragmatism, general world vision, commitment to updating the US's role in the world, and so on) instead of stoking suspicion. Though loyalists in both camps may find it harder to bury the hatchet, Clinton and Obama themselves - despite their own personal motives and maneuvers - are two former rivals smart enough to rise above it.

- Amy Greene