Foreign Policy: A Unified Imprint

"The point is to have a common imprint on foreign policy, not the president's imprint and the secretary's imprint..."  -a senior State Deptartment official, discussing Secretary Hillary Clinton's speech on a conference call with reporters this afternoon.

Hillary Clinton hasn't been all that visible since the start of the new administration. As the White House has rolled out its foreign policy in the early stages--a foreign policy that, during the campaign, took on President Obama's distinct personal stamp--it's been Obama who has publicly taken the lead.

But after Clinton stepped into the spotlight today with her speech at the Council on Foreign Relations on America's overarching international strategy, senior department officials spoke candidly about recognizing her role. She's been very engaged in the day-to-day workings of diplomacy, officials said on a background conference call with reporters this afternoon.

They acknowledged some of the complexity of the administration's foreign policy management structure when a reporter asked them about it: there are envoys George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke, as well as former campaign adviser Gen. Scott Gration, the special envoy to Sudan, they acknowledged. But it's Clinton who ties it all together, they said.

Of course, State Dept. officials wouldn't be ones to comment on Clinton's public profile. But the speech today and conference call afterwards seemed to acknowledge that it's important for Clinton, as secretary of State, to take the reigns of Obama's foreign policy ideals, now that the president has made the rounds with his Cairo speech and international appearances, as a public espouser of them and a leader of that unified imprint.