Christopher Lee writes from Washington: We were eating very clean food. It was a Georgetown dinner party with designer dishes tasting of nothing and glistening balloon glasses full of sparkling water. Not a spare rib in sight. Not a slop of thousand island to be had. Our hostess who clearly knows more about inside the beltway politics than statin crushing food (clue: eat cool eat white eat well eat red) suddenly asked the medic on my left if she thought Hillary’s health could hold out until 2016.
No one chewed on. This was the question of the weekend. In spite of the magic of Barack Obama there is no Camelot. As for Mitt Romney, what sin has America committed to really deserve him.
If Obama does the business this coming November, then he goes next time round. If Romney beats Obama, there’s nothing on the domestic four-year horizon to rack up anything but trouble for a would-be two term President – and remember, Bill Clinton was right and is still right: it’s the economy stupid.
Which is why the medic next to me – an Egyptian-American, as it happened – was being asked to rate Hillary Clinton’s health.
Hillary was not there. She has been chasing down a newest non-NATO best ally deal with President Zarzai – considered in Washington, so very wrongly, to be a corrupt bastard but our bastard. Kabul, Tokyo, Cairo, Alexandria and a couple of other places were thrown in. Every stop has been hard-nose diplomacy, especially in Cairo.
Telling Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi that the US backs him would have been totally unlikely a couple of months back. But Clinton’s foreign policy brief is about Realpolitik and Morsi is the man in Cairo and his Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party the people’s choice.
But Clinton’s support needs between the line reading. She told Morsi that the US backs the occasion of his rise to the presidency. That means the US backs the people and can easily change its mind if the circumstances suggest it prudent to do so. After all, right up to the point that he was binned, the US backed Mubarak. But Clinton’s next Cairo meeting was with the real hardman of Egyptian politics, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. Clinton’s thoughts on these two meetings? Egypt needs “compromise and real politics”.
All good heavy stuff and nothing that will make the big news networks excited. But no Secretary of State does that unless they get scary as did Al Haig when he tried to take over the White House after Reagan was wounded in 1981.
However, Clinton walks like a candidate-in-waiting. Waiting for what exactly? Waiting for America to remember that she nearly made it last time around and that maybe, in Obama, American Democrats picked the wrong one. That curiously will be her default message in four years’ time if she chooses to run – or more accurately, if the grey Democrat suits let her.
Of course someone will mention her age. She’ll be hitting 70. That’s OK. For the right person, this may well be attractive. But what about the medical opinion?
My newest-best-medic-friend sipped long and softly at the sparkling water. Medical condition depends on work load. Too much boring (Clinton does do boring) and the patient goes downhill. Lots of hard brain-teasing (Clinton does brain-teasing) and you can go on as long as you understand the question.
So she said, if Romney wins, forget Hillary. She’ll age because she’ll have no strict regime that comes with office and strict regime keeps the inner system moving.
If Obama wins, then as long as he keeps Clinton and she wants to stay, then apart from a third year in office resignation to prepare for her finest hour moment, she’ll really be Okay.
There is of course, one problem with this (not that I was asked): if Obama gets a second term, then he’ll pick another Secretary of State. That’ll be his UN ambassador Susan Rice. Now there’s nothing wrong with her health. Get my drift?
(Image credit DonkeyHotey)