I’ve made no secret of my love for Hilary Clinton.
I have admired her since Bill came to attention for his Presidential campaign of 1992, fought to see her in person at a couple policy events while I lived in DC, voiced my support for her as the Democratic nominee for President in 2008 and will campaign for her Presidency in 2016.
As we know, she recently stepped down from a four year stint as Secretary of State. This move didn’t come as a surprise or a disappointment. Please. The woman is simply taking a break before she revs up for the BIG JOB.
Recently however, I have come to better understand just why Hilary thought she needed to catch her breath from work with international relations.
I have had my own foray over the last 6 months with negotiations for some work with a university in a European country. Let’s just say, it hasn’t been easy. No, let’s say that I’m about to start throwing things or do mean things to government employees. Just kidding.
The work is pretty straightforward. Meetings, some teaching, providing advice and consulting on some new initiatives. Stuff that I do for my university and that others pay me to do for them. Only this country like most in Europe, is pretty cash strapped. They’d love for me to do it for free but I can’t. So communications & negotiations have gone back and forth, between the people who want the work and the people who have the money. We’ve finally figured out what they can pay, what I will do, what other resources are available (like money to pay for travel) to make it happen.
And it’s only taken 6 months.
And then there’s a nasty detail called taxes.
Of course I knew that I’d pay taxes on whatever I made. It’s the American Way! But it’s not the simple “we pay you and you claim it on your taxes thing” I’ve had before with other consulting work. This situation meant a visit to my local IRS office for what I naively thought would be a signature on a form - that ended with my leaving with 8 more pages of forms and information, and learning that I needed to a) pay nearly $100, b) file a form to c) receive a different form that would allow me to d) file another form that e) another country and office would authorize.
You understand why I’m looking at heavy objects that will feel really good going through a plate glass window….
Hilary would have had people to handle all of this. But she still would have been frustrated by the delay and lack of up front information that would have prepared her for how to deal with it. And like me, she would have demanded that her people help her figure out the easiest way to manage the situation.
So I did. Which though, means that the process isn’t complete, which means that international relations to negotiate US interests in this singular case are now at 6 months PLUS.
No wonder Hilary bailed after 4 years. I know she had a big staff and the job was high profile. But after 4 years of trying to do your job by also figuring out individual cultures, practices, preferences, languages and bureaucracies of other countries, negotiating deals and trying to make people happy, being the brunt of people’s unhappiness with the way the US managed its presence with every other country in the world, and dealing with the mountains of paperwork that our US system of legal processes has in place, I am not at all surprised that she said, that’s it. John Kerry- you can take over. You ran for President, so you can run the clock out on this high profile job. I’m taking a break, reading a few good novels and getting my people together for 2016.
I knew she was tough. Now I know just how tough.