A reader highlights a comment I made over the weekend:
I never, ever, ever thought I'd say this: but Hillary Clinton's composure and competence and humility over the past four years as secretary of state make me want to see her president one day.
As a long-time reader, I was surprised to read that. It made me think a bit. When Hillary ran for president, I initially assumed I would support her, but I ended up volunteering and voting for Obama. Part of the reason stemmed from my opinion that Hillary's campaign was poorly run. For me, her campaign raised questions of competence now clearly overshadowed by her performance at State.
Is there something about the process of choosing the US president that disadvantages some individuals who have the potential for greatness – or at least for great competence and great effectiveness? Is this something that has changed over time? The skill sets of good campaigners and good presidents bear some striking differences, but have the implications of these differences become more significant? I wonder if the evolution of campaigning largely conditioned by the development of the media environment has altered the system in more ways than we fully comprehend.
The turning point for me on Hillary Clinton was her performance at the Democratic National Convention four years ago.
In it, she demonstrated the kind of leadership and team loyalty that I had not really seen in her before that point. Many folks have remarked that the conventions are anachronistic and boring, but I will never forget the way the Democrats unified during that 2008 convention, and Clinton was absolutely instrumental to making that happen.
By contrast, look at this year's Republican convention. It was every man and woman for herself. This is one reason the conventions still matter, for me. It's theater, but theater is a necessary part of the game.
Of course since then, Clinton has shown herself to be all of those things you said. Her gravitas has grown tremendously in her role as Secretary of State, and I fail to see how anyone on the right or the left can have any doubt that she could step into the Oval Office and do the job. Bill Clinton has always claimed Hillary is the most capable politician he has ever met, and it turns out that maybe Bill wasn't just blowing smoke here. It seems to me that Hillary Clinton has completely stepped out of Bill's considerable shadow, and become a true political force in her own right. If she runs for president again, she has my vote all but locked up.
Wow, to read that you would support Hillary Clinton for President. I was a big Obama supporter in 2008, believing so strongly that the US needed a clean break from the Clinton years. It shames me to say I did demonize Hillary a bit during that divisive primary. In the past few months, I have come to the same conclusion you have – Hillary has proven her competence, grace, and humility over the past four years in ways I would never have imagined in 2008. Plus the people who work for her genuinely like her, which says something about true character. Isn't it invigorating to realize in middle age that people can still surprise us, and we can even surprise ourselves by changing our minds?
(Photo: US President Barack Obama and State Secretary Hillary Clinton return to their seats after speaking during the ceremony marking the return of the remains of the four Americans killed in an attack this week in Benghazi, Libya, at the Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on September 14, 2012. By Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)