Over three programs and two days, ABC devoted 15 minutes to a fawning profile of Hillary Clinton. On Wednesday's Nightline, Cynthia McFadden even compared the outgoing Secretary of State to Thomas Jefferson, hinting that Clinton could follow his footsteps to the White House.
McFadden lauded, "There was a time not so very long ago when Hillary Clinton was seen as one of the most divisive figures in American politics." Noting Clinton's high approval rating, she announced this view was "changing." In an interview that, just coincidentally occurred in front of a statue of Jefferson, the reporter embarrassingly hyped, "As Jefferson looks over our shoulder, who I would only point out, was Secretary of State who went on to become president." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
A smiling Clinton laughed and replied only, "I've heard that. Thank you." The interview aired on Tuesday's World News, Wednesday's Nightline (now airing after midnight) and Wednesday's Good Morning America.
(For more on this interview, including video of McFadden practically begging Clinton to run for president, go here.)
Other softball questions included noting John Kerry's confirmation as her successor. McFadden dished, "Do you start to feel [relieved to be able to relax]?"
Speaking of Kerry, she mused, "What do you wish you'd known four years ago that you could pass on to him?"
McFadden did at least ask a few somewhat relevant questions. On Syria, she wondered, "You repeatedly said that President Assad needs to go...What does it take for America to intervene?"
But most of queries were exactly the type that have contributed to Clinton's high polling. It's easy to be popular when no one challenges you (or when they compare you to the author of the Declaration of Independence.)
For instance, on January 30, 2008, McFadden cooed, "When you lie awake at night...what worries you?"
A transcript of the January 30, 2013 segment is below.
CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: There was a time not so very long ago when Hillary Clinton was seen as one of the most divisive figures in American politics. But after serving four years as secretary of state under her former rival Barack Obama, for some, that seems to be changing. We return now to my interview with her today in the Jefferson room at the State Department. As she exits the public stage, for now, anyway, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is basking in an approval rating of 66 percent, a lifetime high. But that's not to say she's without her critics. Among other things, the administration's handling of the ongoing blood bath in Syria remains highly controversial.
HILLARY CLINTON: And it's time for Assad to get out of the way. The United States believes that president Assad should step away. The world will not waiver. Assad must go.
MCFADDEN: You repeatedly said that President Assad needs to go.
MCFADDEN: Starting two years ago.
MCFADDEN: And yet, 60,000 Syrians are dead and he is still in office.
MCFADDEN: What does it take for America to intervene?
CLINTON: Well, I think we have been very actively involved. Until recently, there was no credible opposition coalition, and I cannot stress strongly enough how important that is. You cannot even attempt a political solution if you don't have a recognized force to counter the Assad regime.
MCFADDEN: Secretary Panetta recently told my colleague Martha Raddatz that President assad had chemical weapons ready to go, locked and loaded, ready to go. The red line used to be when he moved those chemical weapons, and now would the U.S. actually permit him to use them?
CLINTON: No, no. And President Obama has been very clear about that. We have laid down the red line on chemical weapons, because that could have far-reaching effects beyond even the street-to-street fighting that is so terrible to watch. And it could also affect other countries.
MCFADDEN: The administration has been criticized by some for having what has been referred to as an ad-hoc foreign policy, a sort of whack-a-mole. What is the Obama doctrine as you understand it?
CLINTON: Reassert American leadership. Politically and economically in the face of a very severe crisis that we inherited, which called into question American leadership. Look for every way you can to bring together coalitions so that yes, America will and must lead. It is the indispensable nation. But other countries have to step up and start taking responsibility and they are beginning to do that.
MCFADDEN: So there's no daylight between the Obama doctrine and the Hillary Clinton doctrine?
CLINTON: Well, I've been a major part of helping to shape it and to implement it. And I think it will stand the test of time.
MCFADDEN: As we sat down to talk this afternoon--
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: The nomination of John Forbes Kerry of Massachusetts to become our new secretary of state is confirmed.
MCFADDEN: Senator Kerry has just been confirmed.
CLINTON: Yes, I'm thrilled by that!
MCFADDEN: Does that feel– Do you start to feel– [Makes a relieved hand motion]
CLINTON: I do! I do.
MCFADDEN: What do you wish you'd known four years ago that you could pass on to him?
CLINTON: I don't see how you do this job without traveling a lot. Condi Rice traveled a million miles, and I traveled nearly that and went to more countries than anybody has gone to. And why do we do that? Is it because we're glutton for punishment? No, because the United States has to show up. Nothing substitutes for demonstrating that the United States of America cares enough to be there, to be at that meeting, to represent our values.
MCFADDEN: But as of Friday, that will be John Kerry's responsibility. Saturday morning--
MCFADDEN: What happens?
CLINTON: I hope I get to sleep in. I'm thinking about that. Because it will be the first time in many years when I've got no office to go to, no schedule to keep, no work to do. That will probably last a few days. And then I will be up and going with my new projects.
MCFADDEN: Thank you for much for talking to us.
CLINTON: Thank you, Cynthia. Good to talk to you.
MCFADDEN: As Jefferson looks over our shoulder, who I would only point out was Secretary of State who went on to become president.
CLINTON: I've heard that. Thank you.
MCFADDEN: Our thanks to the secretary.