American Morning

Tune in at 6am Eastern for all the news you need to start your day.
July 14th, 2009
09:50 AM ET

Tina Brown: Take off 'Clinton's burqa'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of calls Hillary Clinton 'Obama's other wife.'"]

When President Obama picked Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state, many called it a bold move that had star power written all over it. There are some who are now questioning if that star power is being kept under wraps.

Tina Brown is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of She writes, “It's time for Barack Obama to let Hillary Clinton take off her burqa.” Brown joined Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.

Kiran Chetry: "Take off her burqa"? What do you mean by that?

Tina Brown: I mean I'd like to see a little more of Hillary being allowed to be her own person in the State Department. Clearly she's obviously having to represent the administration and she's doing it. She's showing, though, immense discipline, I have to say, about knocking herself back from the spotlight.

She didn't even appear on a talk show until June because the president's message team control very, very carefully who gets the limelight. And it's all really about Obama getting the limelight. So Hillary didn’t. Tomorrow she has her first big foreign policy address, which is actually welcome. Because I think it's time we saw more of her.

Chetry: You call it the ultimate checkmate in terms of the president putting her in that position and the effect it had on former President Bill Clinton. Explain that.

Brown: It turns out the disappointment, which people didn't quite get when it first happened, was a brilliant checkmate of the Clintons. Because in this position it's really important that the secretary of state does not let any daylight between herself and the president as we saw when Colin Powell really wasn't seen to be part of the Bush team. It really hurt him as secretary of state.

Chetry: The inner circle?

Brown: The inner circle, yes. So in Hillary's case, she can not let that happen. If she differs from Obama, she really hurts herself. At the same time, Bill Clinton, of course, wants to support his wife. And he's really aware that in the campaign at times he made gaffes. So he's become such a good boy, Bill Clinton. He’s just kept himself in a box. He's not really able to do as much now for the Clinton Initiative because of anything that might conflict. And he's just been made a special envoy to Haiti, which is hardly one of the world's most thrumming, top spots. So he’s really, in a sense, also being very skillfully kind of curtailed.

Chetry: So the question is, do you think this is part of a conspiracy – almost thinking as a chess match on the part of Obama? Meaning that he was possibly so threatened by the Clintons he wanted to find a way to get them in a box?

Brown: I think it played into his calculations. I think that Obama obviously wants smart people around him. What he sees with Hillary is she's an incredibly smart executive. She was a great choice for secretary of state. So on one hand he gets her terrific sort of brain power and her star power when he needs it. And on the other hand, he just makes sure the Clintons can’t at any point be troublesome for him. It's a kind of double win for Obama.

Chetry: Yesterday she made some interesting comments that maybe show a little bit of frustration.

“The process – the clearance and vetting process – is a nightmare. And it takes far longer than any of us would want to see. It is frustrating beyond words.”

Chetry: She was explaining why there are some posts that have not been filled yet. She said the vetting process of the Obama administration is ridiculous at times.

Brown: I think it's really frustrating for her. But actually, in fairness to them, I think it's frustrating for all of them. I mean there are key positions still in the Treasury, which are not filled. Because it’s really hard to find someone, you know, whose nanny wasn't illegal or whose issue with their taxes is not going to thwart things. But she has the double frustration of that her appointees are viewed with that much more rigor because there’s a sense, again, they do not want the Clinton team to kind of reassemble as the Clinton team.

For instance, she really wanted as deputy secretary of state Richard Holbrooke. But she was overruled by the Obama administration and he insisted that she had James Steinberg who was their guy. And she’s also lost the ability to appoint ambassadorships, which is usually a secretary of state prerequisite. She wanted, for instance, someone else in the Japanese post and she was made to accept, again, an Obama fundraiser. So I think between all these curtailments she is feeling a little bit as if she's been boxed out.

Chetry: Do you think she’s happy she took the job?

Brown: I think she’s – it's hard to say. I would say another six months will answer that question. I think she's finding the job immensely interesting. Hillary’s all about the substance. And I think she loves to chew on all that foreign policy. She adores it. But I think she's also a big leader herself and she has really taken a position where I call her Obama's other wife. She's playing back up to him. I think at a certain time she might find that frustrating.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (214 Responses)
  1. john

    anyone who speaks is racist,please.This ultra left guided administration will get us killed .we are not a mislim nation.opressive,regressive,backwards .and have contributed what to the world ? Oh yeah sharia law.the burqua which should be banned in the U.S. While we are at it all the queers in this country whom do not think they have it pretty good need to move to the middle east and claim equal rights what a ship of fools that support this administration.Pick up a bible and find out for yourself what God did for once great nation.

    July 22, 2009 at 10:09 am |
  2. qaz

    clinton understands the job and does it extremely well. She knows how to get results and that this is not a prima donna position. She is perfect so far and who (else) can complain about that kind of performance?

    July 16, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  3. toohip

    Although I fully support Obama's presidency, legislation, etc--I wish Hillary were President. She's smarter and knows how to get things done.

    July 15, 2009 at 11:27 am |
  4. Rachel

    Jennifer for Islam


    July 14, 2009 at 11:53 pm |
  5. Amatullah

    As a Muslim woman, I find the use of the term “burqa” in your article’s title disturbing. You seem to be suggesting that all women who wear face veils are oppressed. That is not the case, as stated by in this article written by a niqabi (woman who wears a face veil):

    I am a Muslim woman in the USA who chooses to wear a headscarf. I am an IT professional who enjoys the freedom to cover myself while working at a US government agency. As President Obama stated in his speech in Cairo last month:

    “Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit - for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We can't disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.”

    I think that it would serve your audience better if you would ask Muslim women how we feel about our attire instead of making assumptions.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share me opinion


    July 14, 2009 at 9:18 pm |
  6. Daniel

    I think Hillary will probably hand in her resignation in the next 12-18months. Obama's approval rating is now lower then what Bush was after his first 100 days in office. Obama hasn't brought change to Washington as he promised. I think Hillary will leave to set her self up to battle Obama in 2012.

    July 14, 2009 at 8:58 pm |
  7. Azael


    Sixty years of age and you don’t recognize Obama for what he is? Of course he’s a narcissist. Not humble enough? Sure he is, when he’s pandering to other nations and hoping they’ll love him and America based on his “gift of TelePrompTer Gab”. That’s what’s wearing thin.

    No-one comes into this position without experience? State Governorship is very close to executing executive duties at the Federal level. Being a Senator is not, especially one that was in office for less than a year and voted “present” ninety percent of the time. That is why nether Obama, Hillary nor McCain were, in my opinion, right for the job.

    I don’t have to be a Black person is America to empathize. The notion that minorities still have to work harder than the supposed majority is a falsehood wrapped in an excuse. Maybe through your eyes the country is still mired in the nineteen-sixties. But from where I stand and what I’ve seen, equal opportunity is very prevalent.

    July 14, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  8. Patrick

    I can't believe I'm typing these words. I WISH HILLARY WAS PRESIDENT.

    July 14, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  9. Jennifer for Islam

    Freddy B.
    Sepate the relgion from the culture. Burqa is not forced on the female. Islam preaches modesty. It is easy for you as a man to hate it. I guess you like gross men looking at your mother, sister, grand mother and daughter like a peice of meat... I bet your daugheter has a stamp on her back... you know what I mean..... MODESTY people...

    July 14, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
1 2 3