Washington Political Battles Hurt U.S. Image and Obama Agenda, says Sec. Clinton

By Jonathan Blakely

Feb 24, 2010 4:01pm

ABC News’ Kirit Radia and Jonathan Blakely report: Domestic political disputes are hurting America’s image abroad, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lamented this morning during testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. The hearing addressed the State Department’s fiscal year 2011 budget.

Clinton’s remarks were in reference to a number of President Obama’s diplomatic appointments that were held up by senators for political reasons over the past year.

"We're now more than a year into a new administration and whether you agree or disagree with a particular policy, a president deserves to have the people that he nominates serving him," Clinton said.

"It became harder and harder to explain to countries, particularly countries of significance, why we had nobody in position for them to interact with," she added.

Clinton didn’t call any lawmakers out by name, but Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) held up the appointments of both the US Ambassador to Brazil and the State Department’s top Western Hemisphere official. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) held up a slew of nominees as he fought to get an Air Force refueling tanker for his home state of Alabama.

"People don't understand the way our system operates, they just don't get it," she said. "And their view does color whether the United States … is in a position going forward to demonstrate the kind of unity and strength and effectiveness that I think we have to in this very complex and dangerous world."

-Kirit Radia and Jonathan Blakely

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