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24 Hours With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
October 25, 2009


"We're going to work you to death," Hillary Clinton promised me with a laugh. She was taking me—and PARADE's readers—along on a typical day in the life of the U.S. Secretary of State. Our 24 hours together would prove both grueling and inspirational, full of diplomatic pageantry, big meetings with policy brainiacs, small sessions with trusted aides, a stream of time-consuming formal duties, and, of course, phone calls and more phone calls. The Secretary allowed me to be a fly on the wall for almost every minute, under the constantly watchful eyes of the Diplomatic Security Service. Having known her since her husband began his first run for the White House in 1991, I couldn't stop myself from calling her Hillary. To everyone else, however, she was always Madame Secretary.

September 15
6:45 p.m. Iftar Dinner
Two hundred prominent Muslim-American leaders gather at the State Department for iftar, the evening meal when Muslims break their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan. All enter the glittering Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room for an evening of low-key politicking. Muslims have been seeking a position in American politics commensurate with their roughly 6 million in numbers. Clinton is looking for support in upcoming talks between deadlocked Palestinians and Israelis. The evening’s big surprise: After Clinton’s brief talk, a rabbi strolls about introducing the Arab kingdom of Bahrain’s ambassador to the U.S.—who is both a woman and a Jew.



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