Secretary Clinton's political experience could be a plus for her as America's diplomat-in-chief during Middle East peace negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not only have to agree on smart policies, but they have to go with policies that are palatable to their people. These leaders aren't tackling negotiations purely from the perspective of what is good policy in itself, but what will be politically acceptable with their people.
As a former senator and presidential candidate, Clinton has plenty of experience with having to come up with good policy that's also good politics and approaching policy debates with an eye for what's politically sellable. In that sense, she has an asset that many of her predecessors -- Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Madeleine Albright -- don't. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now a representative of the Middle East "Quartet," told ABC News, as seen in the video below, that Clinton has the "best type of political mind" because it "knows where you meet the point of principle and knows where you need the subtlety and the compromise."
Of course, this is the first time Clinton has been a mediator in such a formidable challenge, so you never know how it'll go. "I think she has credibility. Now whether that translates into diplomatic skills, I don't know. Frankly, she's untested as a mediator," Shibley Telhami, a University of Maryland professor who recently wrote a piece for FP, told ABC News, as seen in the video below.
Still, Clinton's political experience counts for something. Plus, she has this relationship with this fellow who has engaged in Mideast peace talks -- maybe she has learned some lessons from his experience.
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Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.