The world is a better place because of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. That’s not the question. The question is whether it is a better place because of those last 20 hours of her 80-hour work week. Or because of the extra miles she flew to distant capitals?
On one trip in 2009, according to the New York Times, “she traveled from talks with Palestinian leaders in Abu Dhabi to a midnight meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, then boarded a plane for Morocco, staying up all night to work on other issues, before going straight to a meeting of Arab leaders the next morning.”
Very impressive, but did it bring us any closer to peace in the Middle East? That may be a lot to ask. Still, as they say, if you can’t measure output, measure input. Every secretary of state since 1947 has taken a crack at solving the puzzle of the Israeli-Arab dispute. None has succeeded, but they’ve all run up impressive mileage trying.
Clinton often flew overnight and, the Times says, “after landing, went straight into a 12- or 16-hour day.” She once “spent three consecutive nights on her plane.” She has visited 112 countries as secretary of state, which is the record, but in terms of air miles (956,733) she trails her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice (1.06 million). (Rice, the Times notes meanly, is seven years younger and “an exercise enthusiast.”)