"I admire and appreciate the way she has really drilled down on some of these crises that have come up, from the Pakistan floods to the earthquake in Haiti, even her handling of the Kyrgyzstan turmoil – she's working herself ragged on these things and you can see it in her face," says Steven Clemons, publisher of the widely read Washington Note blog and a foreign-policy specialist. "But what we need is an innovator – not an incrementalist, but someone who envisions the strategic leaps that can get us out of these holes we're in, and I just haven't seen it in Hillary Clinton."
What Mr. Obama got when he insisted his former rival for the Democratic presidential nomination take on the job of applying his foreign policy and running US diplomacy was an indefatigable advocate for America with a work ethic that astounds admirers and critics alike. She has proved her loyalty to Obama, some say to a fault, matching her pragmatic vision of 21st-century American leadership to his. She has put her unmatched star power to good use, commanding the stage whether with a room of colleagues, with young leaders like those Africans assembled in Washington, or with the many television audiences she has engaged with, Oprah-style, while abroad.
And she has demonstrated the value of having a tested politician as secretary of State – and not only because of her ability to relate to average people in a world where that kind of connection increasingly matters to US foreign-policy goals. She has built on her time on the Senate Armed Services Committee to deepen a relationship with Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The two cabinet members have forged a crucial State-Pentagon relationship at a time when Mr. Gates and other military leaders are calling on the civilian arm of American global reach to take on more of the duties – like nation-building – that the military assumed by default in places like Iraq.