One of the best arguments for voting for Hillary I have read.
Henri Barkey and Tara Sonenshine are right in observing in this space ("Global View of Democrats") that the next US president will have the critical task of raising America's credibility around the world from the depths to which it has sunk.
The authors argue that Senator Obama is the best candidate to restore America's standing and authority based on his "transformative personality, personal history and appeal."
Here's why they are wrong.
While personal appeal and oratorical skill are certainly helpful in building diplomatic ties and conveying goodwill, they aren't a substitute for strong relationships and demonstrated leadership on the international stage. And as valuable as Senator Obama's Kenyan roots and childhood in Indonesia are, these experiences are not, in fact, indicators of diplomatic skill or the knowledge of global affairs needed to navigate international relations in our treacherous world.
By contrast, Hillary Clinton has been practicing public diplomacy for years and is widely respected around the world for her longtime commitment to international development, human rights and America's global leadership.
During the years that Hillary Clinton served as first lady, she became a symbol of America's human face and the values we cherish as a people. In an unprecedented role, she traveled to more than eighty countries to highlight the importance of investing in people. She gave voice to those living on the margins of society, particularly women and children, but also the poor. She put a spotlight on US development programs that offered solutions to pressing problems like infectious diseases, illiteracy, and economic marginalization. She advanced important causes -- from microcredit to global health initiatives -- with an array of foreign leaders, international organizations, and grass roots activists. And she also talked to Americans about why these investments were critical to expanding our influence and enhancing our own security.
Hillary Clinton traveled to places no first lady had ever gone, and where presidents can't go. Visits to some of the most troubled places around the world certainly offered her a measure of exposure and acculturation that she would carry with her to the presidency.
While her oratory may not be as soaring as Senator Obama's, her words helped galvanize a global women's rights movement. Her now famous speech in Beijing at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 -- which declared that "human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights" -- became a call to action to millions of women who joined together in a common purpose - the struggle for women's rights and human rights on a global scale.
Given her status as one of the world's most visible champions of these causes, it's not surprising that thousands waited through the night to hear her speak in the Philippines; that men and women stood ten deep along the streets in Mongolia to salute her when she traveled there; that the residents of Soweto danced in the streets awaiting her visit to their township.
Indeed, Hillary is today a familiar and beloved presence in many parts of the world. A street in a housing project where she helped squatters in South Africa was named after her. So was a clinic in Eritrea, a village in Bangladesh, and a school in Romania. When she arrived in Nicaragua after a devastating hurricane had hit, women held up a banner in Spanish that said: "Welcome to Hillary, the ambassador to the poor."
Perhaps as relevant today is her stature in the Muslim world. Having traveled extensively in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia, she conducted vigorous outreach to diverse religious groups and convened leaders of different faiths to work together on religious tolerance and ways to combat extremism.
In 1999, a plaque was dedicated at the US Agency for International Development to recognize Hillary's leadership on global issues.
It said, "May all who pass through these portals recognize the invaluable contributions to worldwide development made by the First Lady of the US, Hillary Clinton." The Bush Administration had the plaque removed. Plaque or not, her legacy around the world endures in the hearts and minds of millions of people for whom she was an embodiment of America at its very best. That is what Hillary Clinton would bring to the presidency