The secretary of state dials back comments she made earlier this week suggesting that Pakistani officials know where top al-Qaeda leaders are hiding but are doing little to target them. Mike Crowley sees a trend:

Hillary is beginning to compile a non-trivial list of off-message comments that cause trouble. On a trip to China she dismissed human rights as a factor in US-China relations--apparently not a scripted statement. She got ahead of the Obama White House on talk of a complete Israeli settlement freeze. And this summer she compared the North Koreans to "unruly teenagers" at a time when the administration was arranging a visit to Pyongyang by her husband to free American journalists held there. For a woman so famous for her message discipline, it's more than a little surprising.

But useful. She can say things that are true, and which Obama can then walk back a little. I'm sure this is deliberate. And I have to say that her performance as secretary-of-state seems to me to be a real highlight of the administration. Compared to what might have happened, she and Obama have forged a real partnership.

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