At Confirmation Hearing, Hillary Treads Lightly on Afghanistan Question

| Tue Jan. 13, 2009 5:07 PM EST

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It was a foregone conclusion that Secretary of State aspirant Hillary Clinton would sail through her confirmation hearing on Tuesday morning. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is a club, and whatever their disagreements, it's members love to see their own rise to the top. (President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden were also Committee members.)

The hearing was a classic game of political softball, in which Clinton's examiners gushed over her wonderful achievements and wished her well. Many used the occasion to win television time for their own pet projects: Indiana Republican Richard Lugar talked about nonproliferation; Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski urged action on the Law of the Sea Treaty; California Democrat Barbara Boxer discussed women's rights; and many others—including Massachusetts Democrat, former presidential nominee, and disappointed Secretary of State hopeful John Kerry—brought up the issue of Israel's ongoing war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Surprisingly, there was almost no mention during the morning's opening round of questioning about former President Bill Clinton's Global Initiative and the potential conflicts of interest inherent in his wife's ascendance to the country's top foreign policy post; the organization relies, in part, on funding from international donors. Florida Democrat Bill Nelson, among the relative few to even mention the Global Initiative, suggested that rather than complicating Clinton's nomination, it illustrates her and her husband's deep engagement in the world. (Yes, but as AP reports today, there is evidence of Senator Clinton intervening at least six times during her years on Capitol Hill on issues directly affecting firms that later donated to her husband's foundation.)

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