Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

Hillary Clinton Not Seeking Second Secretary of State Term: Is Private Life Next?

4 years ago
  0 Comments Say Something  »
Text Size
People don't often make headlines for things they aren't doing. Yet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made news Thursday after telling PBS's Tavis Smiley in an interview that she did not see herself serving as head of the State Department should Barack Obama be elected to a second term.

"No, I really can't," she said. "The whole eight (years), I mean that would be very challenging. But I... don't want to make any predictions sitting here."

Last October, Clinton found herself in the headlines when she ruled out the New York races for governor and senator. She has also dismissed another run for the presidency. As she reiterated in Wednesday's interview, she is "absolutely not interested" (scroll to 51:35 in the full interview below for Clinton's discussion of her future plans).


The admission in itself is not unusual - rarely do secretaries of state stay for a full eight years, and many have not served one full term. However, simply because of who she is, Hillary Clinton's every career move is watched with great interest (and perhaps some skepticism), particularly by those who believe she may still run for president. Her absence at the State of the Union speech Wednesday night generated buzz even though she was at an important security conference in London and had spoken directly with President Obama about her attendance beforehand.

Clinton's work abroad has received scattered attention as domestic issues like health care and the economy have dominated the news cycle. Her milestone speech on internet freedom (which I covered last week) didn't garner huge coverage despite its role in the high-profile spat between Google and China. Lacking any signature policy issues to promote -- the Israeli-Palestinian issue has taken a back seat thus far in the Obama administration, and Iraq and Afghanistan policy is being closely handled by the White House -- Clinton has had trouble "finding her place," as one Reuters report put it.

Though it's hard to judge the impact of her efforts at this point in the term, it's clear that Clinton has been hard at work within the walls of the State Department. According to analysts, Clinton and her team have launched a revolutionary drive to modernize the department's approach to communication and new media, which they refer to as "21st Century Statecraft." Words like "virtual", "online", and "every tool available" are commonly used by the Clinton State Department.

It's hard for many politicos to imagine Hillary Clinton being content with "going back to private life and spending time reading, and writing, and maybe teaching, doing some personal travel," as she told Smiley. Though she lost the 2008 campaign, Time Magazine annointed her the "symbol of a movement that has come to represent the hopes and frustrations of millions of working-class Democrats." Should Democrats' discontent with the policies of the Obama administration increase, so may the speculation about her chances in 2012.

Politically speaking, Clinton's acceptance of Obama's invitation to become Secretary of State was a brilliant move. Without stepping out of political life, Clinton has avoided a Congress where lawmakers have been forced to cast stigmatizing votes on health care, cap-and-trade, bailouts and stimulus bills. Whatever the results of the increasingly uncertain 2010 campaign season, she will likely walk away unscathed.

Did these factors play a part in her acceptance, and will her departure reveal further political ambitions? Might we see 'Clinton 2012: I Told You So' signs in the Democratic primary? No matter how many quotes there are to the contrary, the speculation may prove too tempting to resist. In the meantime, the Secretary of State seems focused on three more years of hard, important work.

Our New Approach to Comments

In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum Comment Moderation Enabled. Your comment will appear after it is cleared by an editor.

Follow Politics Daily


  • Woman UP Video
politics daily videos
Weekly Videos
Woman Up, Politics Daily's Online Sunday ShowMore»
politics daily videos
TV Appearances
Showcasing appearances by Politics Daily staff and contributors.More>>