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Secretary Clinton: Dutiful diplomat? Or 2012 candidate?

So far, she's hewed so close to the Obama party line that she sounds like a clone of the president.

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"Whatever happened to Hillary Clinton?"

That question came from a senior diplomat of yesteryear in a conversation I had a few weeks ago. He raised the issue in light of all the talk months ago about what role Mrs. Clinton might play in the Obama Cabinet.

Pundits pondered whether President Obama risked being outshone and outmaneuvered by a superstar who nearly became president herself.

The pondering has proved irrelevant. In domestic and foreign media, Mr. Obama has become a superstar to trump all other superstars. (If he has anyone to fear in Washington on the publicity front, it is not Clinton but Mrs. Obama, who is getting multinewspaper and TV coverage.)

By contrast, Secretary of State Clinton has become a dutiful bureaucrat, hewing close to the Obama party line, with never a ripple to agitate the White House. No more campaign trail talk of obliterating Iran if it attacked Israel. No more questioning the president's competence to handle the 3 a.m. crisis call. And minus the mistranslated "reset" button she presented to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, not even a Joe Biden-like gaffe to bring a frown to the president's brow.

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