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Barack Obama vs Hillary Clinton

March 19, 2010

obama and hillary

The New York Times has a good update on a soap opera-turned-buddy-flick. Check out the climax:

For all the concerted efforts to make nice, though, it took the near collapse of the climate-change summit meeting in Copenhagen in December to get Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton working together without a script.

China and other big developing countries were balking at any deal that mandated reducing emissions. Europeans were declaring failure. On a rainy morning, Mr. Obama, fresh off Air Force One, arrived at the Bella Center, an emptied-out mega-mall, the shoe and clothing stores populated only by mannequins. His secretary of state greeted him with a warning.

“Mr. President, this is the worst meeting I’ve been to since the eighth-grade student council,” Mrs. Clinton said, according to officials who were there. Negotiations had stalled; no one knew what to do next. There was not even a scheduled meeting for Mr. Obama to attend.

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton concluded that the United States needed to confront China and the other countries. But for hours that day, leaders of those nations seemed to be avoiding the two Americans. Indeed, as they finally were making their way to meet with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China, two Chinese officials rushed up. “Not ready yet!” they said, motioning them away.

Mr. Obama shot Mrs. Clinton a glance. “Come on, let’s just do this,” he said, according to his aides. Mrs. Clinton plowed ahead, around the Chinese officials and into the room, where Mr. Wen and the leaders of Brazil, India and South Africa were seated. There was a collective gasp when Mrs. Clinton barged in, smiling. And then, right behind her, Mr. Obama. “Hi everybody!” he said. “Mr. Premier, are you ready to see me?”

Sitting side by side, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton negotiated for more than an hour, drafting language like the lawyers they are. In the end, the countries agreed to monitor progress toward pollution-reduction standards and set a goal to limit the rise in global temperatures. It was, by American and European standards, a spectacularly weak outcome.

But for the president and his secretary of state, it was a conspicuous personal achievement: they had passed their first major test of working together on the world stage. “This was an opportunity for us to basically make a decision that was not on anybody’s itinerary,” Mrs. Clinton said in the interview. “You went with your gut on this.”

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