A day after President Obama’s West Point speech committing 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on Capitol Hill explaining the policy, deflecting criticism and - side-by-side with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chair Admiral Mike Mullen - adding a considerable dose of gravitas to Obama’s war strategy.
Then it was off to Brussels where Clinton met with European allies and, along the way, did some spunky interviews with, among others, NPR and PBS.
Hillary is emerging as a star player in the administration and someone who is essential to its - and the president’s - success.
With disapproval of the Obama “surge” arousing rowdy and near-hysterical disapproval within important factions of the Democratic Party, the Secretary of State could be pivotal in keeping these constituencies in the fold.
While Colin Powell gave - and ultimately forfeited - his credibility in service to George W. Bush, no Secretary of State in my memory has been so central to a presidency as Clinton since Henry Kissinger fashioned and carried out foreign policy for Presidents Nixon and Ford.
This must be an awful comparison for Kissinger-haters. Dr. Kissinger, the evil genius, never ran for office and in addition to his breakthrough diplomacy with the Chinese Communists, was involved in some of the most pernicious acts ever committed by this nation (the overthrow and murder of Salvador Allende in Chile is just one example).
Nevertheless, Kissinger’s influence was historical and enormous. And now, Ms. Clinton is taking center stage in the post-cold war era.
The move, a year ago, to offer her this key cabinet position may turn out to be President Obama’s most politically astute act and the one that could ultimately save his presidency.