Sunday, September 13, 2015

Bridge: The Hillary Clinton Metaphor

In the wake of the first Republican double-header in August, having heard a great deal about walls and fences, this page celebrated Hillary Clinton as a builder of bridges.  As we look forward to the next round of Republican face-offs, we can predict that the humanitarian crisis that has erupted in Europe will probably arise in some form.  Preparing for such a field, however, may have a lot more to do with the game plan itself rather than the particular issues.  How can you know what the game is?

Some games are obvious.  Donald Trump's one-man show of coming out swinging is clearly a boxing match.  You might think the same of Christie, but I have a hunch his game is Five-Card Stud.  Ben Carson keeps a poker-face and plays close to the chest.  Jake Tapper, the dealer, might be preparing for several of the candidates to be Blackjack players, but Carly Fiorina likely is basing her game on Serena Williams and improving on that last match.  Jeb Bush, with the family castle to defend and the armies against him, had best be good at chess.  Only a fool would go to the roulette table, so we will probably see a few of them do that.  Other than that, it's a crap shoot.

To be ready to face Hillary Clinton, whichever candidate comes out of these debates and primaries as the nominee ought to be brushing up on bridge. Not only is Hillary a bridge builder,  she plays the game according to Hoyle. She excels at it.

Bridge is a game of partners.  No one develops partners like Hillary Clinton does  - unless it is Bill Clinton -  and no one values them more.  Her formidable record as a senator is rooted in partnerships within her own party as well as with Republicans.  Even before her first moments at the podium behind the seal of the secretary of state,  Hillary Clinton stressed partnership as key to progress.  This is from her confirmation hearing.

President-Elect Obama and I seek a future of cooperative engagement with the Russian government on matters of strategic importance, while standing up strongly for American values and international norms.
China is a critically important actor in a changing global landscape. We want a positive and cooperative relationship with China, one where we deepen and strengthen our ties on a number of issues, and candidly address differences where they persist.
But this not a one-way effort – much of what we will do depends on the choices China makes about its future at home and abroad.
With both Russia and China, we should work together on vital security and economic issues like terrorism, proliferation, climate change, and reforming financial markets.
As secretary of state, she did have a lot of salvage work to do among our offended friends and allies.  But the big project in front of her was the partnerships.  If you do a search for the word "partner" here, these are the pages that come up.

There were strategic dialogues and understandings with major world powers and memoranda of understanding with emerging democracies.  Not only did she develop important partnerships at the State Department, her work afterwards with the Clinton Foundation, like Too Small to Fail, and No Ceilings  which has spawned #NotThere Yet, was driven by partnerships.

In short, Hillary Clinton is a skilled contract player.  Partnering with France's President Sarkozy on Libya, she masterfully bid our way to the dummy hand allowing France to play out the hand as declarer.  Her skill was so stunning that commentators called her the "acting president."

In her speech on the Iran agreement on Wednesday, the word "partner" or "partnership" appeared seven times.  Also in that speech, she had this to say about the plight of the Syrian refugees, a situation she has been warning the world about for years.

With respect to the refugees, I have said I think that, you know, we’re
coming up on the U.N. General Assembly, I think there should be an emergency global
gathering where the U.N. literally tries to get commitments. You know, we did that with
Haiti. After the Haiti earthquake we had a huge gathering at the U.N., where literally it
was like a pledging conference, where we said what are you going to do? You know,
what can you contribute?
And little countries to big countries all stepped up, and it was a
great show of support in the face of a terrible natural disaster.
We need to do something similar. And I’ve publicly called on the U.N. to
convene such a gathering. I do it again today in front of all of you. The United States
has to be at the table, has to be leading it. We were in a strong position to do that on
Haiti. I think even though it’s not on our doorstep, we have a real interest in working not
just with our European friends, I think this is a global responsibility. And if you’re too far
away or for whatever reason you don’t think you can take refugees, then you have to
contribute money. You should be supporting not only those refugees fleeing, but the
incredible work that Jordan and Lebanon and Turkey have been doing, and they have not
gotten the financial support they need. In fact, the last I checked the U.N. appeal had
only reached 37 percent

Bridge is Hillary Clinton's signature game.  The Republicans can practice any games they want to play with each other, but when it comes to facing Hillary Clinton, if they do not hone their bidding and partnering skills, Hillary Clinton will take every trick.  The GOP will be left standing there like Rick Perry, who withdrew this week.  Oops!

Hint to GOP candidates:  You cannot master this game without reaching out to others and nurturing trust.