In a wide-ranging conversation between current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Former Secretary of State James Baker focused on American foreign policy held at the State Department today, some of the liveliest comments centered on what’s happening here at home.
Baker made it clear that in his view the biggest threat to America right now isn’t Iran or China or the Middle East uprisings, but our own economy. “We better damn well get our economic house in order because the strength of our nation has always depended upon our economy. You can’t be strong politically, militarily, or diplomatically if you’re not strong economically,” he said to the crowd, to which Clinton responded with “Amen to that!”
She told the audience that she’s spent much of her tenure as Secretary of State “reassuring” the world’s leaders in government and in business that the U.S. economy is moving forward, and that the American government recognizes “We have to put our economic house in order.”
Clinton told a funny story about one Hong Kong visit where she encountered nervous billionaires.
“I was in Hong Kong during the debt ceiling debate and all these billionaire moguls were at this event, lining up with anxiety asking if the United States of America was going to default on its debt,” said Clinton, who then joked ” I said ‘oh nooo.’” Clinton then had an anxious look on her face which made the audience laugh. But today’s hyper-partisanship and its effects on American foreign policy were no laughing matter.
Clinton talked about how during the last three administrations, despite often heated rhetoric, when it came to issues of foreign policy and the economy ultimately the two parties would find a compromise with the President. Not so with this administration Clinton observed.
“We have to get back into the political work of rolling up our sleeves and solving these problems,” she said. Though a staunch Republican, Baker backed her up.
“I don’t disagree with that at all,” the former secretary said dead-panned to an amused audience. “I hate to tell you this but based on my political and civil service experience, it ain’t happening before November.”