Clinton Sworn in as Secretary of State
Updated 6:44 p.m.
By Glenn Kessler
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been on the job for nearly two weeks, but there's always an excuse for a lavish celebration. This afternoon, in the gilded Benjamin Franklin room on State's top floor, close friends and lawmakers watched her get publicly sworn in by Vice President Biden.
The guests who nibbled on treats and drank wine and beer to the strains of violin music included Chevy Chase, the actor; former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, James A. Baker III, Lawrence Eagleburger and Madeleine Albright; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.); and Governors John Corzine of new Jersey and Martin O'Malley of Maryland. Washington power player Vernon Jordan and Obama foreign policy aide Samantha Power -- who had a very public spat with Clinton during the presidential campaign -- also mingled among the several hundred guests.
A cheer went up when Clinton walked into the room with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, her daughter Chelsea and her mother Dorothy Rodham. Before Biden began to administer the oath, some members of the crowd started chanting, "Get it right, get it right," in reference to the botched oath originally administered to President Obama.
"Never did I think, Madame Secretary, that I'd swear you in as secretary of state," Biden said to laughter. "Never did I think I'd be sworn in as vice president."
Both Biden and Clinton had challenged Obama for the Democratic nomination, and Clinton also noted the irony. "As Joe laughingly referenced, neither one of us thought we'd be here," she said. "Life has a funny way of unfolding, and politics is even stranger."
Clinton earned the biggest laugh and applause when she thanked her husband, resplendent in a red tie, after acknowledging her mother and daughter.
"I am so grateful to him," the former first lady said of the former president, "for a lifetime of [pause] all kinds of experiences -- which have given me an extraordinary richness that I am absolutely beholden to and grateful for."
Clinton will begin her first day of public diplomacy Tuesday when she meets separately with the foreign ministers of Great Britain and Germany. The administration's evolving policy on Iran will be high on the agenda because political directors of the six countries seeking to negotiate with Tehran will meet on Wednesday to consider their next steps.
Clinton also must decide when and where she will make her first trip, a symbolically important mission. Diplomats in Asia say she is considering traveling to Japan, South Korea and China, and possibly Southeast Asia -- an unusual itinerary for the top diplomat's maiden voyage. The planning is still in the early stages, however, and the State Department has declined to comment on her plans.
Posted at 5:02 PM ET on Feb 2, 2009
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