The Clintons are nothing if not the ultimate survivors. Nearly two decades after they burst onto the national stage, they are still dominating it, with Hillary mounting an extraordinary comeback to the extent that she now polls as America's most admired political figure, while Bill virtually runs a parallel United Nations from his Manhattan offices.
This year was perhaps the most eventful of Hillary's tenure as secretary of state. As 2010 came to a close, she had just presided over the release of the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, an agency-wide audit of the State Department's best practices. But her ambitious plans for internal reform were quickly overwhelmed by the leak of hundreds of thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence and the turmoil in the Arab world -- never mind that the WikiLeaked cables generally showed U.S. diplomats evincing a nuanced understanding of world events and a surprising unity of purpose. And though U.S. foreign policy initially seemed caught off guard by the collapse of U.S. allies in Tunisia and Egypt, it recovered its footing in Libya. The coming year will likely be Clinton's last in Foggy Bottom, and judging by her recent article for FP, her priority will be reorienting U.S. foreign policy toward East Asia, where, she has said, "much of the history of the 21st century will be written." As for Bill, the "president of the world" has continued traipsing the globe devoting his time and his foundation's substantial resources to issues that generally fall off the radar screen, whether it's reconciliation in Bosnia or rebuilding in Haiti. In November, he published Back to Work, a manifesto with his thoughts on everything from job creation to energy and financial responsibility.
Both Clintons offer something unusual in world politics: their trademark optimism. At this year's Clinton Global Initiative, Bill described as a "no-brainer" a plan to create 1 million new jobs by retrofitting buildings to make them more energy-efficient. "Usually when things sound too good to be true, they are," he said. "They aren't here." Hillary, meanwhile, cheered the rise of participatory democracy: "We really are in a new age."
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