By a two-to-one margin, Americans approve of the John Kerry-brokered deal on Iran, according to a poll released on Wednesday. But there's at least one American who may be less pleased with the breakthrough: Kerry's predecessor as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Clinton is in danger of being outshined from the left even as she's overshadowed from the right.
It's been less than a week since the interim Iran deal was finalized, so the poll from Reuters should be considered a snapshot more than a solidified response. It offers "rare good news" for President Obama, in Reuters' words, with 44 percent of respondents supporting the deal versus 22 percent opposing. But it's not only Obama who deserves credit. The agreement was the result of several weeks of direct negotiation, but its apparent genesis was a 2011 trip then-Sen. John Kerry took to Oman to establish secret negotiations with Iran. This deal and its immediate success, in other words, belong to John Kerry.
According to a story in Wednesday's The New York Times, that doesn't make Clinton loyalists very happy.
[S]ome people close to Mrs. Clinton worry that, because of the high profile given to her work for women’s rights, and the headlines now being generated by the hyperkinetic Mr. Kerry, her efforts on trickier diplomatic situations have been eclipsed.
What about her 13 trips to Libya in 2011 to build the coalition that led to the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, they ask. Why is no one talking about how she brokered a cease-fire in Gaza? Anyone remember that she furthered economic sanctions on North Korea?
There's a quick and easy answer to those questions, of course — news outlets tend to focus on those things that are new, versus those things that bolster possible future candidates' credentials.
A deeper question about Clinton's State Department legacy is, however, unavoidable. As the Times notes, Republicans have been deliberate about trying to set that legacy in stone with a one word epitaph: Benghazi. The on-going effort to suggest nefarious intent or negligence in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens hasn't borne much evidentiary fruit. Regardless, the word has become a shorthand used by the right to suggest scandal. Protests often have signs that say nothing more than "Benghazi." In two years time, with Obama still in the White House and Clinton likely looking to replace him, the word will become only more prominent.