Secretary Clinton:  Year One

Secretary Clinton When I reflect on Secretary Hillary Clinton’s first year as secretary of state, I can’t help but think about the controversy surrounding her selection to the post.  She was (and may still be) anathema to many of President Barack Obama’s staunchest supporters.  For them, her selection was a head-scratcher, at best, and a capitulation to the status quo, at worst.  There were concerns about the extent to which she would be a team player and some wondered, if not predicted, that she (along with her ever-present former husband) would try to undermine the President for her own political gain.  I think even some of her harshest critics would concede that those concerns, in retrospect, have proven unwarranted.  Weighing all the available evidence, it is clear that Secretary Clinton is a hard working advocate for President Obama’s foreign policy (It’s probably easier to be such as their probably aren’t that many substantive differences between the two on most international issues) and a credit to the administration. 

She deserves kudos for bringing women’s rights to the forefront in a way that never was previously done, despite the fact that two of the last three secretaries of state were women.  According to recent reporting by The Washington Post, “rarely does [Clinton] venture abroad without pushing the case for ‘women empowerment,’ a signature issue of her nearly one-year tenure as the top U.S. Diplomat.”  This is no small achievement and still badly needed.  After all, we live in a world in which a 16-year-old Bangladeshi girl was recently given 101 lashes on her back for becoming pregnant as a result of being raped.  Too many women around the world still live under gender-based oppression and her work on their behalf should be duly noted.

Clinton’s presence at Foggy Bottom also appears to shaken up diplomatic corps around the world.  The Washington Post also recently reported that there are 25 female ambassadors posted in Washington, D.C. “the highest number ever, according to the State Department.” Eleven of the 25 female ambassadors are from Africa and four from the Caribbean. The “Hillary effect” as it has been dubbed, is helping to create a new political order that will include more women in decision making positions that ever before.

It’s not all wine and roses, however.  Her timidity with regard to China is clear and a significant contrast to her tone when she was First Lady.  She traveled to China in 1995 and gave a stirring indictment of the nation’s human rights record.  As secretary of state, her talk of “principled pragmatism”, as she called her view toward human rights in China in a late 2009 speech at Georgetown University, reminds me of Reagan-era talk of “constructive engagement” with South Africa. 

Going forward, it is my hope that she will continue to push the envelope on women’s rights and continue to remake the international diplomatic corps.  And while problems in North Korea, Iran, Haiti, and other parts of the world will continue to loom, it’s clear that, at least so far, Secretary Clinton has proven up to the task, or at least not the disaster some predicted.
Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Thursday, January 28, 2010
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Harold Ford, Jr. is Heading Toward Parody

It can get tough on you when Stephen Colbert decides to give you some attention.  Here's his take on Harold Ford, Jr.

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Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Tuesday, January 26, 2010
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New Audio:  Mike Fauntroy and Ron Christie Discuss Politics on Up Front with Tony Cox

Here is a link to a conversation I had with Ron Christie, former aid to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that aired on Up Front with Tony Cox.  We discussed the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race (and its implications for health care reform legislation), the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on corporate campaign finance, and the politics of Haitian relief efforts.
Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Sunday, January 24, 2010
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Tavis Smiley Launches New PBS Series

Tavis Smiley is launching a new television series on PBS that promises to be informative and inspirational.

In the first edition of Tavis Smiley Reports, which airs this Wednesday, January 27 at 8:00 PM Eastern, Tavis uses exclusive access to Hillary Clinton to examine her first year as secretary of state and looks ahead to the challenges of the next three years.

Three other specials are planned.  The second, to air on March 31 at 8:00 PM Eastern, Tavis Smiley Reports examines one of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s greatest speeches, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” which he delivered on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City. The third episode, to air Summer 2010, looks at the reconstruction of New Orleans in the five years since the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The airdate and topic of the fourth Tavis Smiley Reports will be announced in 2010.

Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Sunday, January 24, 2010
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Harold Ford Has Some ‘Splainin’ to Do

As you know by now, Harold Ford, Jr. is considering challenging New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in this year's Democratic primary.  Originally from Tennessee and bringing to the Empire State a political philosophy that probably can't get him elected, he is going to have to explain how many of his past statements will win over New Yorkers.  This powerful video shows just how far he will have to go to win.

Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Saturday, January 16, 2010
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Michael Fauntroy on Sirius/XM’s “The New School with Charles Ellison”

Here is a link to a recent discussion I participated in on Sirius/XM's "The New School with Charles Ellison." The conversation focused on the usefulness of political ideology in contemporary politics and Tim Johnson of the North Carolina Republican Party and Krysta Jones of the Virginia Leadership Institute (VLI). Johnson is the state party vice-chair and the highest ranking Black Republican in the state.  The VLI trains African Americans to run for office in the state.
Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Wednesday, January 06, 2010
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Michael Fauntroy on Tavis Smiley on PRI

Here is a link to a "year in review" discussion in which I participated in on the Tavis Smiley radio show on Public Radio International. I, along with Deroy Murdock, Kathryn Lopez, and Connie Rice analyzed everything from the Inauguration of Barack Obama to Tiger Woods and a bunch of stuff in between.
Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Saturday, January 02, 2010
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