Anatomy of an Outburst: Why Did Hillary Clinton Get Angry in Africa?

Her supporters are willing to acknowledge that the secretary got angry and "reacted sharply," but they caution reading too much about her psychology or her relationship with Bill Clinton into a one-off comment.

"I tend to think this is an episode that will quickly pass. It doesn't mean much," said Bob Shrum, an NYU professor and Democratic political consultant.

"She reacted rather sharply and it's usually best to save such sharp reactions for the holding room, out of public sight. To read more into it, to say she 'cracked' or was 'stressed' — those are loaded words and I think unfair," he said.

"I don't think she has a problem with her husband playing an active role in diplomacy," Shrum added.

Bill Clinton also has a reputation for playing it cool and came under fire when his ire rose during his wife's presidential campaign. He shocked an audience into silence when he railed against then-Senator Obama, calling the candidate's attacks on his wife "the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."

But Hillary Clinton kept her temper far more under control during the campaign. Candidate Clinton attributed the difference in temperament to the way the public believed a woman should act. She was routinely labeled "strident" during the campaign, an adjective many women thought was intentionally sexist.

It was during her husband's 1992 presidential campaign that, in an unguarded moment, Clinton allowed too much anger to surface, a mistake she had not made again until this week.

"I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life," she told reporters.

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