End of an era
While everyone's been watching the battle in the Republican Party, key members of President Obama's administration will also be thinking about their futures in the next few months. UTTM contributor Lance Price takes a look at one of its most prominent personalities.
At the end of last year I had the good fortune to be invited to Geneva to meet Hillary Clinton, no less. I help run an international gay rights organization based here in London called the Kaleidoscope Trust and she was making a big speech on gay equality around the world. It was a terrific speech, although I couldn't help noticing how exhausted she looked as she delivered it. It's hardly surprising.
She had just flown in from Burma and before meeting us she had a secret rendezvous with leaders of the Syrian opposition. From Geneva she was heading to Brussels and then back to the States. It's little wonder perhaps that she has let it be known, so we're told, that she doesn't want to remain Secretary of State whatever the outcome of November's election. Her staff were even referring to this as a 'legacy' speech. It was as if she wanted to make some bold commitments - and they were bold - while she and perhaps even President Obama were still around. There was an 'end of an era' feel to it which made me feel uncomfortable.
It also made me think about those Democrat activists who love to express their disappointment about what the President has done since being in office. Here in Britain, Labour Party people do the same, giving the impression that my old boss, Tony Blair, achieved too little in ten years of power. They don't seem to realize that the alternative was never going to be a more radical government but a much more conservative one led by the other side.
And on the subject Mrs Clinton was speaking about, no Republican, not even a so-called moderate like Mitt Romney, would dare endorse what should surely be an uncontroversial proposition - that basic human rights must be afforded equally to all of us. Britain's Conservative Party Prime Minister, David Cameron, isn't forced to appease his right-wing in the same way and his stance on gay rights is uncompromising. But his party has a long way to go before it fully embraces the principle of equality.
So elections do make a difference. And while the euphoria that greets a charismatic new leader like Obama or Blair will always fade, it doesn't mean their supporters were duped or let down. When they stand for re-election they can be fairly judged on their actions and not just their words. But let's not compare what our leaders do with our dreams of a perfect government -- but rather with the reality of what would have happened if they hadn't been elected at all.
This is Lance Price for CBS News in London.
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