- By Annie LowreyAnnie Lowrey is assistant editor at FP.
Michael Crowley has an excellent article in this week’s New Republic, “Reset Button,” assessing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s public breaks from official U.S. policy. He runs through her out-of-line statements on Kim Jong-il’s successor in North Korea, human rights in China, and Israeli settlement-building, as well as her snapping at an audience member during her trip through Africa and calling North Korea an “unruly teenager.” He questions whether these incidents were the gaffes of an independent-thinking, fallible, and very tired diplomat, or cannily constructed political statements designed in concert with the White House to express something otherwise taboo.
The article is cast in black and white, told through the dialectics of candidate and victor, ally and enemy, on message and off, either and or. Crowley opens the article describing the schizophrenic reaction to Clinton’s naming as secretary; some, he argues, thought it “nuts” and some a “stroke of genius.” A Democratic operative says of Clinton’s out-of-bounds statements, “Sometimes that’s helpful, sometimes it’s not.” Crowley also discusses an “old Hillary duality” — her “disdain for the media” (making herself available for questions just once on a weeklong trip) and “occasional efforts at outreach” (bringing the hungry traveling press bagels).
Throughout, he flip-flops between calling the secretary “Hillary” and “Clinton,” to heighten the point — Hillary being the strident and frank candidate and Clinton the hyper-controlled political tact-machine.
Eventually, Crowley blows over his own either-or straw-woman, noting that the idea of Clinton as some sort of infallible policy robot is absurd. She, like all politicians, has mucked up dozens of times in the past. But he sadly doesn’t plumb the idea much further.
It follows from the conception of her as a complex person that her perceived missteps are similarly complex. She speaks publicly on literally a world’s worth of issues every day. She makes mistakes, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not, sometimes with effect, sometimes without. To paint with black and white is to miss a very colorful picture. And ultimately, it is the press that paints her in such egregiously schizophrenic, love-her-or-hate-her terms.
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Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |