She's rested, ready and running. You could feel it in the air and hear it in her throaty voice. The former secretary of state gave one of her first speeches in Washington since leaving office in January.
I heard Hillary Clinton speak yesterday at a small gathering at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a perfect venue for her presidential aspirations the second time around, with the words from Wilson's loftiest speeches etched on the memorial walls. He had a grand international vision, but the world wasn't quite ready for it a century ago.
Well, the nation wasn't quite ready for Clinton in 2008, except for the 18 million who cast votes for her in the Democratic primary race. Some of us are resisting the temptation to say we told you so. Others are more outspoken as they look at the lackluster state of affairs and morale under President Obama's leadership.
As a matter of fact, Clinton had lunch with Obama yesterday! It's not a scoop, totally off the record, so who knows what those two rivals talked about. His upcoming Vineyard vacation? Obamacare, maybe? John Kerry? In the Oval, you know things are bad when the best prospect you have before you is peace in the Middle East.
Clinton came not to give a campaign speech, but to honor and be honored by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The public policy fellowship will now be named for her and the late Senator J. William Fulbright, so the 23 fellows going abroad this summer are officially known as "Fulbright-Clinton Fellows."
Fulbright was a brilliant Arkansan with a global village sensibility, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and mostly ahead of his time. In her talk, Clinton mentioned her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had worked in Fulbright's office during the worst anguish over the Vietnam War.
She told the young gathering that in those days she and Bill and other students starting out in government with internships mainly clipped newspaper stories. Ain't that quaint?
This was a high-class event. Clinton took particular pleasure in noting Burma is added to the list of host countries, a political weather change her diplomacy helped to bring about. I spoke with Rebecca Bartlein, who just concluded her year-long public health fellowship in Cote d'Ivoire. And I chatted with Aaron Johnson, returning for a second year of working on prison reform in Bangkok, Thailand, trying to instill compliance with the minimum standards of the United Nations human rights guidelines.
Each of the new Fulbright-Clinton fellows will serve and work in a developing country, program officials said. No finer way to further her legacy. Clinton said she'd look forward to reading reports on their work, and sounded like she absolutely meant it.
And yes, she wore a pantsuit and pumps and a becoming new haircut that falls softly on the shoulders. She looked like a woman who would not be denied twice.
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