v7n2_06 - First Lady Diplomacy: The Foreign Policy Activism...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations First Lady Diplomacy: The Foreign Policy Activism of First Lady Clinton by Glenn P. Hastedt and Anthony J. Eksterowicz F irst lady activism is conditioned by many factors on various levels. There are personal, institutional, societal, and public policy levels, and many variables within each level contribute to first lady activism or performance. Former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was one of the most active first ladies in modern memory. This article explores the genesis of her activism in the foreign policy realm. We first discuss the general factors that affect first lady performance. These factors are arranged in various variable sets. We then apply these sets to First Lady Clinton in order to gain some systematic understanding of her activism. With such insight we next discuss the most important of these variables which have affected First Lady Clinton’s activism in foreign policy. F ACTORS A FFECTING F IRST L ADY P ERFORMANCE Historian Carl Sferrazza Anthony once noted concerning first ladies, “Only the First Lady and the president determine the extent of her power, though frequently she has operated without his knowledge or permission.” 1 Modern-day first ladies operate within a textured and complicated political environment composed of many variables that affect their power, influence, and ultimately, their activism. These variables are not only personal in nature but also involve the administrative environment within the White House and the Office of the First Lady. The public and the political climate during a first lady’s tenure can also affect her performance. A list of factors affecting first lady performance or activism can be gleaned from the literature on first ladies. 2 There are a series of personal attributes that can affect performance, such as the first lady’s background, her ambition, vision, and ideology. The first lady’s background consists of her personal, professional, and educational background, and general biographical information, such as employment history, schools attended, etc. A first lady’s ideology is developed from her background and consists of things like religious, moral, and political views. Ambition and vision develop from a first lady’s background. There seems to be a correlation between ambition and vision and the first lady’s attitude toward her office, which is in turn Glenn P. Hastedt and Anthony Eksterowicz are professors in the Political Science Department at James Madison University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. 57
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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations linked to performance and activism. Performance can be defined in terms of how active a first lady will be in using her office to affect public policy and is determined not only by the first lady’s attributes, but also by those who have had an impact upon her in her formative years. Certain administrative variables also affect performance. Resources, such as staff
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v7n2_06 - First Lady Diplomacy: The Foreign Policy Activism...

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