[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/14/obama.putin.getty.art.jpg caption="President Barack Obama (L) and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (2R) converse while having traditional Russian tea on a terrace at Putin's residence outside Moscow on July 7, 2009."]
By Tina Brown
The Daily Beast
Left behind on major presidential trips, overruled in choosing her own staff—Hillary Clinton is the invisible woman at State. But Obama's brilliant foreign-policy spouse may not stay silent forever.
It’s time for Barack Obama to let Hillary Clinton take off her burqa.
Consider the president’s Moscow trip a week ago. In a cozy scene at Vladimir Putin’s dacha, the boys enjoyed traditional Russian tea and breakfast on a terrace. Sitting on Putin’s right was the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. Where was Lavrov’s counterpart? She was back home, left there with a broken elbow to receive a visit from the ousted Honduran president, José Manuel Zelaya.
It becomes clearer by the day how cleverly Obama checkmated both Clintons by putting Hillary in the topmost Cabinet job.
Same thing last month, when the president stopped off to see King Abdullah en route to his oratorical home run in Cairo: no Hillary. Nor was there any sign of Middle East envoy George Mitchell or anyone else from the State Department on the Saudi leg of the trip, even though its main mission was to recruit Abdullah into a peace-making partnership with Israel. The king told Obama no, by the way, so it’s fair to ask whether the president could have used a bit more Foggy Bottom prep work. Jim Hoagland noted in Sunday’s Washington Post that the White House’s leak of Obama’s decision to send an ambassador to Syria took Clinton’s State Department by surprise and trumped State’s efforts to squeeze another concession or two out of Damascus first.