Hillary Clinton today showed why President-elect Obama tapped her to be the next secretary of state. She rhetorically walked around the world, pointing out problems, commenting on hot spots and making a commitment to restore the United States as a moral and focused force on the global stage. "Smart power," Clinton eloquently dubbed it.
And then came the persistent questions about the fundraising activities of former President Bill Clinton on behalf of his foundation. Understandably, senators pressed for more and more frequent disclosure of donors. The potential for conflicts, or the appearance of conflicts, is high, and there should be assurances that such conflicts can be avoided.
But the sanctimony of one David Vitter, the Louisiana senator who copped to enjoying the company of prostitutes after he was ensnared in the DC madam case in July 2007, was a bit much to take. He asked whether Clinton would commit to disclosing more details. She pointed out that what her husband already had done was unprecedented. Clinton went on to describe the good works of the Clinton Foundation, when Vitter peevishly turned to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) and said, "I have no objection listening to this but I don't want this to come out of my time."
If I could put a thought bubble over Clinton's head when the camera showed her surprised reaction, it would say: "Oh no he didn't!" Considering that Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) made the same demands but with grace, Vitter really shouldn't have.
UPDATE (Jan. 15, 10 a.m.): The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted almost unanimously for Hillary Clinton to be the next secretary of state. The lone vote against her was cast by Vitter.
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