The New Year holiday is providing an unfortunate coda to what Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton might otherwise judge a personally successful 2012.
On Sunday, she was hospitalized after doctors discovered a blood clot related to a concussion she had suffered earlier this month. Her spokesman said she would remain at New York-Presbyterian Hospital at least into Tuesday for observation.
And on Monday, a Senate report faulted the State Department for failing to take adequate steps to protect the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, where an attack killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11.
Yet the former first lady and senator from New York has earned mostly favorable reviews as America’s top diplomat. Secretary Clinton’s wonky detail-oriented style proved a good fit for the grinding top State Department job. When she steps down in January she will be the most traveled secretary of state in US history, according to the Associated Press, having visited 112 countries in the course of her diplomatic duties.
“Hillary Clinton’s first-place finish this year further solidifies her position as the most often named Most Admired Woman in Gallup’s history,” writes Gallup editor Frank Newport.
According to Pew Research, Clinton has enjoyed consistently high public ratings throughout her term at Foggy Bottom. On Dec. 12 she was very close to an all-time high Pew rating, with 65 percent of the survey respondents saying they held a favorable view of her.
But as Pew notes, Clinton’s reputation with voters has plummeted at times. Her ratings dropped in 1992, when she waspishly commented that she “could have stayed home and baked cookies” rather than work on policy issues. They fell again when she defended her husband during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
But each time her reputation rose again. She, rather than her ex-presidential spouse, might truly deserve the title “comeback kid.”
“On four separate occasions over the past 20 years, Clinton’s favorability ratings have fallen sharply – but each time they recovered. It is rare for a political figure to accomplish that feat once in a career, much less four times,” writes Pew.
Given her prominence, Clinton is now suffering a spate of wild conspiracy theories related to her illness, notes the right-leaning Weekly Standard. In one such out-there theory, the secretary of State in fact was injured and a top Navy SEAL commander killed when her transport aircraft crashed near the Iranian city of Ahvaz.