That was some confirmation hearing for madame secretary of State this week. One for the annals. Not so much for what Hillary Clinton said (boilerplate stuff) but for what the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did. The senators showed up to examine, at least, the many red flags popping up between Bill Clinton's ongoing global charitable foundation and Hillary Clinton's upcoming global diplomatic portfolio, but they stayed on to gawk and burble. On Thursday, the committee voted 16-to-1 to give the lady a big, fat stamp of approval.
But sometimes inexplicably: "The (William J.) Clinton Foundation exists as a temptation for any foreign entity or government that believes it could curry favor through a donation," cautioned Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana. "It also sets up potential perception problems with any action taken by the secretary of state in relation to foreign givers or their countries...." Therefore, he concluded, in a sharp reversal of his own logic, "I believe that every member of this committee will seek ways to support Senator Clinton's work as secretary of state." Huh?
And sometimes with hearts and flowers: "I truly appreciate all that you are poised to do and what you have done in the past," Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told Mrs. Clinton.
Or with an awkward turn of phrase: "Despite the news accounts that say that I'm the one that's going to ask you the hard questions about potential conflicts of interest, I have no questions about your integrity," said Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. And none about the Clinton foundation. Weirdly, DeMint then appealed to Mrs. Clinton "to do whatever is necessary to silence any critics before you take office."
Whatever is necessary? That'll give a turn to old Clinton hands who still can't shake the image of Webb Hubbell rolling "over one more time," or of Kathleen Willey's poor cat. "Enough said," said DeMint. Maybe too much.
"I'm just a junior senator from Tennessee, but it seems to me that everything has a season and this is your season," Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told Mrs. C., splashing the Senate hearing room with chicken soup for the soul. "It just seems to me there's no reason whatsoever to have continual press comments and other kinds of things that might take away from, I think, what might be extraordinary efforts on your part."
Such was the loyal Republican "opposition."
"I believe that the better your diplomacy, the better your ability to defend yourself," Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, another Republican, explained to Mrs. Clinton. "A strong military is a great foundation for good diplomacy. And then if you add the development, which I think is "soft power" or "smart power," you have a great trilogy. Do you agree with that?"