Newsweek Hails the Clintons as Perfect Pair to Repair America's Image

Newsweek’s latest issue celebrates the most influential people in the world, the "Global Elite," and Jonathan Alter was happy to oblige with another testimonial for the Clintons, and how "the most powerful couple in politics may find the times suited to their skills." Bill and Hillary are so globally popular, they can remake America’s image in the world while President Obama fixes the home front:

Preoccupied with economic woes at home, Obama simply won't have time to spend a big chunk of his first year in office on the road. In many ways the crucial restoration of America's prestige in the world will fall instead to the Clintons. The couple are already so popular abroad that when they land at a foreign airport, they can hit the tarmac running on all the bilateral and multilateral issues they know so well.

Alter has already predicted that Hillary will make no trouble in Team Obama turf battles (perhaps the media elite is signaling they fully expect her to play nice, since Obama didn’t have to offer this plum job):

Hillary Clinton will be an exceptionally knowledgeable and hardworking secretary of state. She didn't just visit more than 80 countries as First Lady and senator, she met all the key players and developed a complex understanding of global challenges. Her reputation as a tough-minded hawk will make it easier to bargain from a position of strength. Contrary to the theory of New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and others, foreign diplomats aren't likely to find daylight between Obama and Clinton to exploit. Their substantive differences have always been slight and will grow slighter as Obama's "team of rivals" becomes, as it did under Lincoln, just a team. And in turf disputes, she might have to dull her sharp elbows to fit the new "No-Drama Obama" ethic.

Alter suggested she’s a poor judge of others, as in picking the "arrogant losers" inside her campaign. (One guess: they didn’t take Alter’s advice.) But then he offered more praise for Bill:

If Obama decides to deploy him properly, Bill Clinton will be a terrific troubleshooter, perhaps in tandem once again with his old rival, George H.W. Bush. He could pick up in the Middle East where he left off in 2000, except this time the main obstacle to peace – Yasir Arafat – is dead. He still knows every street in Jerusalem, every pressure point in the peace process. And it might be worth seeing if there's anything he can do to bolster civilian leadership in Pakistan.

Alter wrote that Bill’s flaws are that he might forget at times that he’s no longer the president, and he still sounds bitter about Hillary’s loss (while Hillary seems to have moved on). Once again, Alter underlined that the Clintons should play nice with Obama, or Hillary’s career is kaput:

Even so, there's no reason to assume he'll embarrass Obama and, if he does, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel will be on the phone reading him (or her) their Miranda rights. Besides, Hillary knows that all the punditry saying she's too big to fire is wrong. If she manages to get pushed out, she's almost certainly finished in politics.

Get a load of Alter: causing trouble for Obama is almost criminal, and the Newsweek liberals want any troublemakers in handcuffs being read their Miranda rights. Alter ended with optimism, especially since the Clintons are far better than the Bush-Cheney gang:

The greater likelihood is success. The Clintons have the rare chance for a "do over" in foreign policy, or, in the case of triumphs like the Irish peace deal, a "do again." Because they won't be distracted this time by other obligations, Hill and Bill (the order now reversed) will be able to focus their legendary energies on diplomatic breakthroughs.

More important, the structure of today's global order may favor Clintonism even more than it did in the 1990s. The Pax Americana of 15 years ago, when the United States stood alone at the summit, was in some ways wasted on Bill, who responded in Bosnia in his first term with a caution befitting a third-string power, not a colossus. Now that unipolar world is gone, replaced by an array of rising powers. The strength of the Clintons always rested in their ability to grasp subtleties and integrate seemingly disparate issues like energy, counterterrorism and development. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld didn't "do nuance." Hillary and Bill do, and they make it pay.


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