Eric Arthur Blair was born on 25 June 1903, in Motihari, Bengal Presidency (present-day Bihar), in British India. His great-grandfather Charles Blair was a wealthy country gentleman in Dorset who married Lady Mary Fane, daughter of the Earl of Westmorland, and had income as an absentee landlord of plantations in Jamaica. His grandfather, Thomas Richard Arthur Blair, was a clergyman. Although the gentility passed down the generations, the prosperity did not; Eric Blair described his family as “lower-upper-middle class“. His father, Richard Walmesley Blair, worked in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service. His mother, Ida Mabel Blair (née Limouzin), grew up in Moulmein, Burma, where her French father was involved in speculative ventures. Eric had two sisters: Marjorie, five years older, and Avril, five years younger. When Eric was one year old, his mother took him and his sister to England.[n 1] His birthplace and ancestral house in Motihari has been declared a protected monument of historical importance.
In 1904, Ida Blair settled with her children at Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. Eric was brought up in the company of his mother and sisters, and apart from a brief visit in mid-1907, they did not see the husband and father Richard Blair until 1912. His mother’s diary from 1905 describes a lively round of social activity and artistic interests.
Before the First World War, the family moved to Shiplake, Oxfordshire where Eric became friendly with the Buddicom family, especially their daughter Jacintha. When they first met, he was standing on his head in a field. On being asked why, he said, “You are noticed more if you stand on your head than if you are right way up.” Jacintha and Eric read and wrote poetry, and dreamed of becoming famous writers. He said that he might write a book in the style of H. G. Wells‘s A Modern Utopia. During this period, he also enjoyed shooting, fishing and birdwatching with Jacintha’s brother and sister.
At the age of five, Eric was sent as a day-boy to a convent school in Henley-on-Thames, which Marjorie also attended. It was a Roman Catholic convent run by French Ursuline nuns, who had been exiled from France after religious education was banned in 1903. His mother wanted him to have a public school education, but his family could not afford the fees, and he needed to earn a scholarship. Ida Blair’s brother Charles Limouzin recommended St Cyprian’s School, Eastbourne, East Sussex. Limouzin, who was a proficient golfer, knew of the school and its headmaster through the Royal Eastbourne Golf Club, where he won several competitions in 1903 and 1904. The headmaster undertook to help Blair to win a scholarship, and made a private financial arrangement that allowed Blair’s parents to pay only half the normal fees. In September 1911 Eric arrived at St Cyprian’s. He boarded at the school for the next five years, returning home only for school holidays. He knew nothing of the reduced fees, although he “soon recognised that he was from a poorer home”. Blair hated the school and many years later wrote an essay “Such, Such Were the Joys“, published posthumously, based on his time there. At St. Cyprian’s, Blair first met Cyril Connolly, who became a writer. Many years later, as the editor of Horizon, Connolly published several of Orwell’s essays.
While at St Cyprian’s, Blair wrote two poems that were published in the Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard. He came second to Connolly in the Harrow History Prize, had his work praised by the school’s external examiner, and earned scholarships to Wellington and Eton. But inclusion on the Eton scholarship roll did not guarantee a place, and none was immediately available for Blair. He chose to stay at St Cyprian’s until December 1916, in case a place at Eton became available.
In January, Blair took up the place at Wellington, where he spent the Spring term. In May 1917 a place became available as a King’s Scholar at Eton. He remained at Eton until December 1921, when he left midway between his 18th and 19th birthday. Wellington was “beastly”, Orwell told his childhood friend Jacintha Buddicom, but he said he was “interested and happy” at Eton. His principal tutor was A. S. F. Gow, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, who also gave him advice later in his career. Blair was briefly taught French by Aldous Huxley. Stephen Runciman, who was at Eton with Blair, noted that he and his contemporaries appreciated Huxley’s linguistic flair. Cyril Connolly followed Blair to Eton, but because they were in separate years, they did not associate with each other.
Blair’s academic performance reports suggest that he neglected his academic studies, but during his time at Eton he worked with Roger Mynors to produce a College magazine, The Election Times, joined in the production of other publications – College Days and Bubble and Squeak – and participated in the Eton Wall Game. His parents could not afford to send him to a university without another scholarship, and they concluded from his poor results that he would not be able to win one. Runciman noted that he had a romantic idea about the East, and the family decided that Blair should join the Imperial Police, the precursor of the Indian Police Service. For this he had to pass an entrance examination. His father had retired to Southwold, Suffolk, by this time; Blair was enrolled at a crammer there called Craighurst, and brushed up on his Classics, English, and History. He passed the entrance exam, coming seventh out of the 26 candidates who exceeded the pass mark.
Policing in Burma
Blair pictured in a passport photo during his Burma years
Working as an imperial policeman gave him considerable responsibility while most of his contemporaries were still at university in England. When he was posted farther east in the Delta to Twante as a sub-divisional officer, he was responsible for the security of some 200,000 people. At the end of 1924, he was promoted to Assistant District Superintendent and posted to Syriam, closer to Rangoon. Syriam had the refinery of the Burmah Oil Company, “the surrounding land a barren waste, all vegetation killed off by the fumes of sulphur dioxide pouring out day and night from the stacks of the refinery.” But the town was near Rangoon, a cosmopolitan seaport, and Blair went into the city as often as he could, “to browse in a bookshop; to eat well-cooked food; to get away from the boring routine of police life”. In September 1925 he went to Insein, the home of Insein Prison, the second largest jail in Burma. In Insein, he had “long talks on every conceivable subject” with Elisa Maria Langford-Rae (who later married Kazi Lhendup Dorjee). She noted his “sense of utter fairness in minutest details”.
British Club in Katha (in Orwell’s time, it occupied only the ground floor)
In April 1926 he moved to Moulmein, where his maternal grandmother lived. At the end of that year, he was assigned to Katha in Upper Burma, where he contracted dengue fever in 1927. Entitled to a leave in England that year, he was allowed to return in July due to his illness. While on leave in England and on holiday with his family in Cornwall in September 1927, he reappraised his life. Deciding against returning to Burma, he resigned from the Indian Imperial Police to become a writer. He drew on his experiences in the Burma police for the novel Burmese Days (1934) and the essays “A Hanging” (1931) and “Shooting an Elephant” (1936).
In Burma, Blair acquired a reputation as an outsider. He spent much of his time alone, reading or pursuing non-pukka activities, such as attending the churches of the Karen ethnic group. A colleague, Roger Beadon, recalled (in a 1969 recording for the BBC) that Blair was fast to learn the language and that before he left Burma, “was able to speak fluently with Burmese priests in ‘very high-flown Burmese.'” Blair made changes to his appearance in Burma that remained for the rest of his life. “While in Burma, he acquired a moustache similar to those worn by officers of the British regiments stationed there. [He] also acquired some tattoos; on each knuckle he had a small untidy blue circle. Many Burmese living in rural areas still sport tattoos like this – they are believed to protect against bullets and snake bites.” Later, he wrote that he felt guilty about his role in the work of empire and he “began to look more closely at his own country and saw that England also had its oppressed …”
In England, he settled back in the family home at Southwold, renewing acquaintance with local friends and attending an Old Etonian dinner. He visited his old tutor Gow at Cambridge for advice on becoming a writer. In 1927 he moved to London.Ruth Pitter, a family acquaintance, helped him find lodgings, and by the end of 1927 he had moved into rooms in Portobello Road; a blue plaque commemorates his residence there. Pitter’s involvement in the move “would have lent it a reassuring respectability in Mrs Blair’s eyes.” Pitter had a sympathetic interest in Blair’s writing, pointed out weaknesses in his poetry, and advised him to write about what he knew. In fact he decided to write of “certain aspects of the present that he set out to know” and “ventured into the East End of London – the first of the occasional sorties he would make to discover for himself the world of poverty and the down-and-outers who inhabit it. He had found a subject. These sorties, explorations, expeditions, tours or immersions were made intermittently over a period of five years.”
In imitation of Jack London, whose writing he admired (particularly The People of the Abyss), Blair started to explore the poorer parts of London. On his first outing he set out to Limehouse Causeway, spending his first night in a common lodging house, possibly George Levy’s ‘kip’. For a while he “went native” in his own country, dressing like a tramp, adopting the name P. S. Burton and making no concessions to middle-class mores and expectations; he recorded his experiences of the low life for use in “The Spike“, his first published essay in English, and in the second half of his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933).
In early 1928 he moved to Paris. He lived in the rue du Pot de Fer, a working class district in the 5th Arrondissement. His aunt Nellie Limouzin also lived in Paris and gave him social and, when necessary, financial support. He began to write novels, including an early version of Burmese Days, but nothing else survives from that period. He was more successful as a journalist and published articles in Monde, a political/literary journal edited by Henri Barbusse (his first article as a professional writer, “La Censure en Angleterre”, appeared in that journal on 6 October 1928); G. K.’s Weekly, where his first article to appear in England, “A Farthing Newspaper”, was printed on 29 December 1928; and Le Progrès Civique (founded by the left-wing coalition Le Cartel des Gauches). Three pieces appeared in successive weeks in Le Progrès Civique: discussing unemployment, a day in the life of a tramp, and the beggars of London, respectively. “In one or another of its destructive forms, poverty was to become his obsessive subject – at the heart of almost everything he wrote until Homage to Catalonia.”
He fell seriously ill in February 1929 and was taken to the Hôpital Cochin in the 14th arrondissement, a free hospital where medical students were trained. His experiences there were the basis of his essay “How the Poor Die“, published in 1946. He chose not to identify the hospital, and indeed was deliberately misleading about its location. Shortly afterwards, he had all his money stolen from his lodging house. Whether through necessity or to collect material, he undertook menial jobs like dishwashing in a fashionable hotel on the rue de Rivoli, which he later described in Down and Out in Paris and London. In August 1929, he sent a copy of “The Spike” to John Middleton Murry‘s New Adelphi magazine in London. The magazine was edited by Max Plowman and Sir Richard Rees, and Plowman accepted the work for publication.
In December 1929, after nearly two years in Paris, Blair returned to England and went directly to his parents’ house in Southwold, which remained his base for the next five years. The family was well established in the town and his sister Avril was running a tea-house there. He became acquainted with many local people, including Brenda Salkeld, the clergyman’s daughter who worked as a gym-teacher at St Felix Girls’ School, Southwold. Although Salkeld rejected his offer of marriage, she remained a friend and regular correspondent for many years. He also renewed friendships with older friends, such as Dennis Collings, whose girlfriend Eleanor Jacques was also to play a part in his life.
In early 1930 he stayed briefly in Bramley, Leeds, with his sister Marjorie and her husband Humphrey Dakin, who was as unappreciative of Blair as when they knew each other as children. Blair was writing reviews for Adelphi and acting as a private tutor to a disabled child at Southwold. He then became tutor to three young brothers, one of whom, Richard Peters, later became a distinguished academic. “His history in these years is marked by dualities and contrasts. There is Blair leading a respectable, outwardly eventless life at his parents’ house in Southwold, writing; then in contrast, there is Blair as Burton (the name he used in his down-and-out episodes) in search of experience in the kips and spikes, in the East End, on the road, and in the hop fields of Kent.” He went painting and bathing on the beach, and there he met Mabel and Francis Fierz, who later influenced his career. Over the next year he visited them in London, often meeting their friend Max Plowman. He also often stayed at the homes of Ruth Pitter and Richard Rees, where he could “change” for his sporadic tramping expeditions. One of his jobs was domestic work at a lodgings for half a crown (two shillings and sixpence, or one-eighth of a pound) a day.
Blair now contributed regularly to Adelphi, with “A Hanging” appearing in August 1931. From August to September 1931 his explorations of poverty continued, and, like the protagonist of A Clergyman’s Daughter, he followed the East End tradition of working in the Kent hop fields. He kept a diary about his experiences there. Afterwards, he lodged in the Tooley Street kip, but could not stand it for long, and with financial help from his parents moved to Windsor Street, where he stayed until Christmas. “Hop Picking”, by Eric Blair, appeared in the October 1931 issue of New Statesman, whose editorial staff included his old friend Cyril Connolly. Mabel Fierz put him in contact with Leonard Moore, who became his literary agent.
At this time Jonathan Cape rejected A Scullion’s Diary, the first version of Down and Out. On the advice of Richard Rees, he offered it to Faber and Faber, but their editorial director, T. S. Eliot, also rejected it. Blair ended the year by deliberately getting himself arrested, so that he could experience Christmas in prison, but the authorities did not regard his “drunk and disorderly” behaviour as imprisonable, and he returned home to Southwold after two days in a police cell.
In April 1932 Blair became a teacher at The Hawthorns High School, a school for boys in Hayes, West London. This was a small school offering private schooling for children of local tradesmen and shopkeepers, and had only 14 or 16 boys aged between ten and sixteen, and one other master. While at the school he became friendly with the curate of the local parish church and became involved with activities there. Mabel Fierz had pursued matters with Moore, and at the end of June 1932, Moore told Blair that Victor Gollancz was prepared to publish A Scullion’s Diary for a £40 advance, through his recently founded publishing house, Victor Gollancz Ltd, which was an outlet for radical and socialist works.
At the end of the summer term in 1932, Blair returned to Southwold, where his parents had used a legacy to buy their own home. Blair and his sister Avril spent the holidays making the house habitable while he also worked on Burmese Days. He was also spending time with Eleanor Jacques, but her attachment to Dennis Collings remained an obstacle to his hopes of a more serious relationship.
The pen name “George Orwell” was inspired by the River Orwell in the English county of Suffolk
“Clink”, an essay describing his failed attempt to get sent to prison, appeared in the August 1932 number of Adelphi. He returned to teaching at Hayes and prepared for the publication of his book, now known as Down and Out in Paris and London. He wished to publish under a different name to avoid any embarrassment to his family over his time as a “tramp”. In a letter to Moore (dated 15 November 1932), he left the choice of pseudonym to Moore and to Gollancz. Four days later, he wrote to Moore, suggesting the pseudonyms P. S. Burton (a name he used when tramping), Kenneth Miles, George Orwell, and H. Lewis Allways. He finally adopted the nom de plume George Orwell because, as he told Eleanor Jacques, “It is a good round English name.” Down and Out in Paris and London was published on 9 January 1933, as Orwell continued to work on Burmese Days. Down and Out was successful and was next published by Harper & Brothers in New York.
In mid-1933 Blair left Hawthorns to become a teacher at Frays College, in Uxbridge, Middlesex. This was a much larger establishment with 200 pupils and a full complement of staff. He acquired a motorcycle and took trips through the surrounding countryside. On one of these expeditions he became soaked and caught a chill that developed into pneumonia. He was taken to Uxbridge Cottage Hospital, where for a time his life was believed to be in danger. When he was discharged in January 1934, he returned to Southwold to convalesce and, supported by his parents, never returned to teaching.
He was disappointed when Gollancz turned down Burmese Days, mainly on the grounds of potential suits for libel, but Harper were prepared to publish it in the United States. Meanwhile, Blair started work on the novel A Clergyman’s Daughter, drawing upon his life as a teacher and on life in Southwold. Eleanor Jacques was now married and had gone to Singapore and Brenda Salkield had left for Ireland, so Blair was relatively isolated in Southwold – working on the allotments, walking alone and spending time with his father. Eventually in October, after sending A Clergyman’s Daughter to Moore, he left for London to take a job that had been found for him by his aunt Nellie Limouzin.
Orwell’s former home at 77 Parliament Hill, Hampstead, London
This job was as a part-time assistant in Booklovers’ Corner, a second-hand bookshop in Hampstead run by Francis and Myfanwy Westrope, who were friends of Nellie Limouzin in the Esperanto movement. The Westropes were friendly and provided him with comfortable accommodation at Warwick Mansions, Pond Street. He was sharing the job with Jon Kimche, who also lived with the Westropes. Blair worked at the shop in the afternoons and had his mornings free to write and his evenings free to socialise. These experiences provided background for the novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936). As well as the various guests of the Westropes, he was able to enjoy the company of Richard Rees and the Adelphi writers and Mabel Fierz. The Westropes and Kimche were members of the Independent Labour Party, although at this time Blair was not seriously politically active. He was writing for the Adelphi and preparing A Clergyman’s Daughter and Burmese Days for publication.
At the beginning of 1935 he had to move out of Warwick Mansions, and Mabel Fierz found him a flat in Parliament Hill. A Clergyman’s Daughter was published on 11 March 1935. In early 1935 Blair met his future wife Eileen O’Shaughnessy, when his landlady, Rosalind Obermeyer, who was studying for a master’s degree in psychology at University College London, invited some of her fellow students to a party. One of these students, Elizaveta Fen, a biographer and future translator of Chekhov, recalled Orwell and his friend Richard Rees “draped” at the fireplace, looking, she thought, “moth-eaten and prematurely aged.” Around this time, Blair had started to write reviews for the New English Weekly.
Orwell’s time as a bookseller is commemorated with this plaque in Hampstead
In June, Burmese Days was published and Cyril Connolly’s review in the New Statesman prompted Orwell (as he then became known) to re-establish contact with his old friend. In August, he moved into a flat in Kentish Town, which he shared with Michael Sayers and Rayner Heppenstall. The relationship was sometimes awkward and Orwell and Heppenstall even came to blows, though they remained friends and later worked together on BBC broadcasts. Orwell was now working on Keep the Aspidistra Flying, and also tried unsuccessfully to write a serial for the News Chronicle. By October 1935 his flatmates had moved out and he was struggling to pay the rent on his own. He remained until the end of January 1936, when he stopped working at Booklovers’ Corner.
At this time, Victor Gollancz suggested Orwell spend a short time investigating social conditions in economically depressed northern England.[n 2] Two years earlier J. B. Priestley had written about England north of the Trent, sparking an interest in reportage. The depression had also introduced a number of working-class writers from the North of England to the reading public.
On 31 January 1936, Orwell set out by public transport and on foot, reaching Manchester via Coventry, Stafford, the Potteries and Macclesfield. Arriving in Manchester after the banks had closed, he had to stay in a common lodging-house. The next day he picked up a list of contacts sent by Richard Rees. One of these, the trade union official Frank Meade, suggested Wigan, where Orwell spent February staying in dirty lodgings over a tripe shop. At Wigan, he visited many homes to see how people lived, took detailed notes of housing conditions and wages earned, went down Bryn Hall coal mine, and used the local public library to consult public health records and reports on working conditions in mines.
During this time, he was distracted by concerns about style and possible libel in Keep the Aspidistra Flying. He made a quick visit to Liverpool and during March, stayed in south Yorkshire, spending time in Sheffield and Barnsley. As well as visiting mines, including Grimethorpe, and observing social conditions, he attended meetings of the Communist Party and of Oswald Mosley – “his speech the usual claptrap – The blame for everything was put upon mysterious international gangs of Jews” – where he saw the tactics of the Blackshirts – “one is liable to get both a hammering and a fine for asking a question which Mosley finds it difficult to answer.” He also made visits to his sister at Headingley, during which he visited the Brontë Parsonage at Haworth, where he was “chiefly impressed by a pair of Charlotte Brontë‘s cloth-topped boots, very small, with square toes and lacing up at the sides.”
A former warehouse at Wigan Pier is named after Orwell
The result of his journeys through the north was The Road to Wigan Pier, published by Gollancz for the Left Book Club in 1937. The first half of the book documents his social investigations of Lancashire and Yorkshire, including an evocative description of working life in the coal mines. The second half is a long essay on his upbringing and the development of his political conscience, which includes an argument for Socialism (although he goes to lengths to balance the concerns and goals of Socialism with the barriers it faced from the movement’s own advocates at the time, such as ‘priggish’ and ‘dull’ Socialist intellectuals, and ‘proletarian’ Socialists with little grasp of the actual ideology). Gollancz feared the second half would offend readers and added a disculpatory preface to the book while Orwell was in Spain.
Orwell needed somewhere he could concentrate on writing his book, and once again help was provided by Aunt Nellie, who was living at Wallington, Hertfordshire in a very small 16th-century cottage called the “Stores”. Wallington was a tiny village 35 miles north of London, and the cottage had almost no modern facilities. Orwell took over the tenancy and moved in on 2 April 1936. He started work on The Road to Wigan Pier by the end of April, but also spent hours working on the garden and testing the possibility of reopening the Stores as a village shop. Keep the Aspidistra Flying was published by Gollancz on 20 April 1936. On 4 August Orwell gave a talk at the Adelphi Summer School held at Langham, entitled An Outsider Sees the Distressed Areas; others who spoke at the school included John Strachey, Max Plowman, Karl Polanyi and Reinhold Niebuhr.
Orwell’s research for The Road to Wigan Pier led to him being placed under surveillance by the Special Branch from 1936, for 12 years, until one year before the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Orwell married Eileen O’Shaughnessy on 9 June 1936. Shortly afterwards, the political crisis began in Spain and Orwell followed developments there closely. At the end of the year, concerned by Francisco Franco‘s military uprising, (supported by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and local groups such as Falange), Orwell decided to go to Spain to take part in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. Under the erroneous impression that he needed papers from some left-wing organisation to cross the frontier, on John Strachey‘s recommendation he applied unsuccessfully to Harry Pollitt, leader of the British Communist Party. Pollitt was suspicious of Orwell’s political reliability; he asked him whether he would undertake to join the International Brigade and advised him to get a safe-conduct from the Spanish Embassy in Paris. Not wishing to commit himself until he had seen the situation in situ, Orwell instead used his Independent Labour Party contacts to get a letter of introduction to John McNair in Barcelona.
The Spanish Civil War
The square in Barcelona renamed in Orwell’s honour
After a time at the Lenin Barracks in Barcelona he was sent to the relatively quiet Aragon Front under Georges Kopp. By January 1937 he was at Alcubierre 1,500 feet (460 m) above sea level, in the depth of winter. There was very little military action, and Orwell was shocked by the lack of munitions, food, and firewood, and other extreme deprivations. Orwell, with his Cadet Corps and police training, was quickly made a corporal. On the arrival of a British ILP Contingent about three weeks later, Orwell and the other English militiaman, Williams, were sent with them to Monte Oscuro. The newly arrived ILP contingent included Bob Smillie, Bob Edwards, Stafford Cottman and Jack Branthwaite. The unit was then sent on to Huesca.
Meanwhile, back in England, Eileen had been handling the issues relating to the publication of The Road to Wigan Pier before setting out for Spain herself, leaving Nellie Limouzin to look after The Stores. Eileen volunteered for a post in John McNair’s office and with the help of Georges Kopp paid visits to her husband, bringing him English tea, chocolate, and cigars. Orwell had to spend some days in hospital with a poisoned hand and had most of his possessions stolen by the staff. He returned to the front and saw some action in a night attack on the Nationalist trenches where he chased an enemy soldier with a bayonet and bombed an enemy rifle position.
In April, Orwell returned to Barcelona. Wanting to be sent to the Madrid front, which meant he “must join the International Column”, he approached a Communist friend attached to the Spanish Medical Aid and explained his case. “Although he did not think much of the Communists, Orwell was still ready to treat them as friends and allies. That would soon change.” This was the time of the Barcelona May Days and Orwell was caught up in the factional fighting. He spent much of the time on a roof, with a stack of novels, but encountered Jon Kimche from his Hampstead days during the stay. The subsequent campaign of lies and distortion carried out by the Communist press, in which the POUM was accused of collaborating with the fascists, had a dramatic effect on Orwell. Instead of joining the International Brigades as he had intended, he decided to return to the Aragon Front. Once the May fighting was over, he was approached by a Communist friend who asked if he still intended transferring to the International Brigades. Orwell expressed surprise that they should still want him, because according to the Communist press he was a fascist. “No one who was in Barcelona then, or for months later, will forget the horrible atmosphere produced by fear, suspicion, hatred, censored newspapers, crammed jails, enormous food queues and prowling gangs of armed men.”
After his return to the front, he was wounded in the throat by a sniper’s bullet. At 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) Orwell was considerably taller than the Spanish fighters and had been warned against standing against the trench parapet. Unable to speak, and with blood pouring from his mouth, Orwell was carried on a stretcher to Siétamo, loaded on an ambulance and after a bumpy journey via Barbastro arrived at the hospital at Lérida. He recovered sufficiently to get up and on 27 May 1937 was sent on to Tarragona and two days later to a POUM sanatorium in the suburbs of Barcelona. The bullet had missed his main artery by the barest margin and his voice was barely audible. It had been such a clean shot that the wound immediately went through the process of cauterisation. He received electrotherapy treatment and was declared medically unfit for service.
By the middle of June the political situation in Barcelona had deteriorated and the POUM – painted by the pro-Soviet Communists as a Trotskyist organisation – was outlawed and under attack. The Communist line was that the POUM were “objectively” Fascist, hindering the Republican cause. “A particularly nasty poster appeared, showing a head with a POUM mask being ripped off to reveal a Swastika-covered face beneath.” Members, including Kopp, were arrested and others were in hiding. Orwell and his wife were under threat and had to lie low,[n 3] although they broke cover to try to help Kopp.
Finally with their passports in order, they escaped from Spain by train, diverting to Banyuls-sur-Mer for a short stay before returning to England. In the first week of July 1937 Orwell arrived back at Wallington; on 13 July 1937 a deposition was presented to the Tribunal for Espionage & High Treason, Valencia, charging the Orwells with “rabid Trotskyism“, and being agents of the POUM. The trial of the leaders of the POUM and of Orwell (in his absence) took place in Barcelona in October and November 1938. Observing events from French Morocco, Orwell wrote that they were ” – only a by-product of the Russian Trotskyist trials and from the start every kind of lie, including flagrant absurdities, has been circulated in the Communist press.” Orwell’s experiences in the Spanish Civil War gave rise to Homage to Catalonia (1938).
Rest and recuperation
Laurence O’Shaughnessy’s former home, the large house on the corner, 24 Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London
Orwell returned to England in June 1937, and stayed at the O’Shaughnessy home at Greenwich. He found his views on the Spanish Civil War out of favour. Kingsley Martin rejected two of his works and Gollancz was equally cautious. At the same time, the communist Daily Worker was running an attack on The Road to Wigan Pier, misquoting Orwell as saying “the working classes smell”; a letter to Gollancz from Orwell threatening libel action brought a stop to this. Orwell was also able to find a more sympathetic publisher for his views in Frederic Warburg of Secker & Warburg. Orwell returned to Wallington, which he found in disarray after his absence. He acquired goats, a rooster he called “Henry Ford”, and a poodle puppy he called “Marx” and settled down to animal husbandry and writing Homage to Catalonia.
There were thoughts of going to India to work on the Pioneer, a newspaper in Lucknow, but by March 1938 Orwell’s health had deteriorated. He was admitted to Preston Hall Sanatorium at Aylesford, Kent, a British Legion hospital for ex-servicemen to which his brother-in-law Laurence O’Shaughnessy was attached. He was thought initially to be suffering from tuberculosis and stayed in the sanatorium until September. A stream of visitors came to see him including Common, Heppenstall, Plowman and Cyril Connolly. Connolly brought with him Stephen Spender, a cause of some embarrassment as Orwell had referred to Spender as a “pansy friend” some time earlier. Homage to Catalonia was published by Secker & Warburg and was a commercial flop. In the latter part of his stay at the clinic Orwell was able to go for walks in the countryside and study nature.
The novelist L. H. Myers secretly funded a trip to French Morocco for half a year for Orwell to avoid the English winter and recover his health. The Orwells set out in September 1938 via Gibraltar and Tangier to avoid Spanish Morocco and arrived at Marrakech. They rented a villa on the road to Casablanca and during that time Orwell wrote Coming Up for Air. They arrived back in England on 30 March 1939 and Coming Up for Air was published in June. Orwell spent time in Wallington and Southwold working on a Dickens essay and it was in July 1939 that Orwell’s father, Richard Blair, died.
Second World War and Animal Farm
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Orwell’s wife Eileen started working in the Censorship Department of the Ministry of Information in central London, staying during the week with her family in Greenwich. Orwell also submitted his name to the Central Register for war work, but nothing transpired. “They won’t have me in the army, at any rate at present, because of my lungs”, Orwell told Geoffrey Gorer. He returned to Wallington, and in late 1939 he wrote material for his first collection of essays, Inside the Whale. For the next year he was occupied writing reviews for plays, films and books for The Listener, Time and Tide and New Adelphi. On 29 March 1940 his long association with Tribune began with a review of a sergeant’s account of Napoleon‘s retreat from Moscow. At the beginning of 1940, the first edition of Connolly’s Horizon appeared, and this provided a new outlet for Orwell’s work as well as new literary contacts. In May the Orwells took lease of a flat in London at Dorset Chambers, Chagford Street, Marylebone. It was the time of the Dunkirk evacuation and the death in France of Eileen’s brother Lawrence caused her considerable grief and long-term depression. Throughout this period Orwell kept a wartime diary.
Orwell was declared “unfit for any kind of military service” by the Medical Board in June, but soon afterwards found an opportunity to become involved in war activities by joining the Home Guard. He shared Tom Wintringham‘s socialist vision for the Home Guard as a revolutionary People’s Militia. His lecture notes for instructing platoon members include advice on street fighting, field fortifications, and the use of mortars of various kinds. Sergeant Orwell managed to recruit Frederic Warburg to his unit. During the Battle of Britain he used to spend weekends with Warburg and his new Zionist friend, Tosco Fyvel, at Warburg’s house at Twyford, Berkshire. At Wallington he worked on “England Your England” and in London wrote reviews for various periodicals. Visiting Eileen’s family in Greenwich brought him face-to-face with the effects of the blitz on East London. In mid-1940, Warburg, Fyvel and Orwell planned Searchlight Books. Eleven volumes eventually appeared, of which Orwell’s The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius, published on 19 February 1941, was the first.
Early in 1941 he started writing for the American Partisan Review which linked Orwell with The New York Intellectuals, like him anti-Stalinist, but committed to staying on the Left, and contributed to Gollancz anthology The Betrayal of the Left, written in the light of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (although Orwell referred to it as the Russo-German Pact and the Hitler-Stalin Pact). He also applied unsuccessfully for a job at the Air Ministry. Meanwhile, he was still writing reviews of books and plays and at this time met the novelist Anthony Powell. He also took part in a few radio broadcasts for the Eastern Service of the BBC. In March the Orwells moved to a seventh-floor flat at Langford Court, St John’s Wood, while at Wallington Orwell was “digging for victory” by planting potatoes.
One could not have a better example of the moral and emotional shallowness of our time, than the fact that we are now all more or less pro Stalin. This disgusting murderer is temporarily on our side, and so the purges, etc., are suddenly forgotten.
— George Orwell, in his war-time diary, 3 July 1941
In August 1941, Orwell finally obtained “war work” when he was taken on full-time by the BBC’s Eastern Service. He supervised cultural broadcasts to India to counter propaganda from Nazi Germany designed to undermine Imperial links. This was Orwell’s first experience of the rigid conformity of life in an office, and it gave him an opportunity to create cultural programmes with contributions from T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, E. M. Forster, Ahmed Ali, Mulk Raj Anand, and William Empson among others.
At the end of August he had a dinner with H. G. Wells which degenerated into a row because Wells had taken offence at observations Orwell made about him in a Horizon article. In October Orwell had a bout of bronchitis and the illness recurred frequently. David Astor was looking for a provocative contributor for The Observer and invited Orwell to write for him – the first article appearing in March 1942. In early 1942 Eileen changed jobs to work at the Ministry of Food and in mid-1942 the Orwells moved to a larger flat, a ground floor and basement, 10a Mortimer Crescent in Maida Vale/Kilburn – “the kind of lower-middle-class ambience that Orwell thought was London at its best.” Around the same time Orwell’s mother and sister Avril, who had found work in a sheet-metal factory behind Kings Cross Station, moved into a flat close to George and Eileen.
Orwell at the BBC in 1941. Despite having spoken on many broadcasts, no recordings of Orwell’s voice are known to survive.
At the BBC, Orwell introduced Voice, a literary programme for his Indian broadcasts, and by now was leading an active social life with literary friends, particularly on the political left. Late in 1942, he started writing regularly for the left-wing weekly Tribune:306:441 directed by Labour MPs Aneurin Bevan and George Strauss. In March 1943 Orwell’s mother died and around the same time he told Moore he was starting work on a new book, which turned out to be Animal Farm.
In September 1943, Orwell resigned from the BBC post that he had occupied for two years.:352 His resignation followed a report confirming his fears that few Indians listened to the broadcasts, but he was also keen to concentrate on writing Animal Farm. Just six days before his last day of service, on 24 November 1943, his adaptation of the fairy tale, Hans Christian Andersen‘s The Emperor’s New Clothes was broadcast. It was a genre in which he was greatly interested and which appeared on Animal Farm‘s title-page. At this time he also resigned from the Home Guard on medical grounds.
In November 1943, Orwell was appointed literary editor at Tribune, where his assistant was his old friend Jon Kimche. Orwell was on staff until early 1945, writing over 80 book reviews and on 3 December 1943 started his regular personal column, “As I Please“, usually addressing three or four subjects in each. He was still writing reviews for other magazines, including Partisan Review, Horizon, and the New York Nation and becoming a respected pundit among left-wing circles but also a close friend of people on the right such as Powell, Astor and Malcolm Muggeridge. By April 1944 Animal Farm was ready for publication. Gollancz refused to publish it, considering it an attack on the Soviet regime which was a crucial ally in the war. A similar fate was met from other publishers (including T. S. Eliot at Faber and Faber) until Jonathan Cape agreed to take it.
In May the Orwells had the opportunity to adopt a child, thanks to the contacts of Eileen’s sister Gwen O’Shaughnessy, then a doctor in Newcastle upon Tyne. In June a V-1 flying bomb struck Mortimer Crescent and the Orwells had to find somewhere else to live. Orwell had to scrabble around in the rubble for his collection of books, which he had finally managed to transfer from Wallington, carting them away in a wheelbarrow.
Another bombshell was Cape’s reversal of his plan to publish Animal Farm. The decision followed his personal visit to Peter Smollett, an official at the Ministry of Information. Smollett was later identified as a Soviet agent.
The Orwells spent some time in the North East, near Carlton, County Durham, dealing with matters in the adoption of a boy whom they named Richard Horatio Blair. By September 1944 they had set up home in Islington, at 27b Canonbury Square. Baby Richard joined them there, and Eileen gave up her work at the Ministry of Food to look after her family. Secker & Warburg had agreed to publish Animal Farm, planned for the following March, although it did not appear in print until August 1945. By February 1945 David Astor had invited Orwell to become a war correspondent for the Observer. Orwell had been looking for the opportunity throughout the war, but his failed medical reports prevented him from being allowed anywhere near action. He went to Paris after the liberation of France and to Cologne once it had been occupied by the Allies.
It was while he was there that Eileen went into hospital for a hysterectomy and died under anaesthetic on 29 March 1945. She had not given Orwell much notice about this operation because of worries about the cost and because she expected to make a speedy recovery. Orwell returned home for a while and then went back to Europe. He returned finally to London to cover the 1945 general election at the beginning of July. Animal Farm: A Fairy Story was published in Britain on 17 August 1945, and a year later in the US, on 26 August 1946.
Jura and Nineteen Eighty-Four
Animal Farm struck a particular resonance in the post-war climate and its worldwide success made Orwell a sought-after figure.
Barnhill on the Isle of Jura off the west coast of Scotland
In the year following Eileen’s death he published around 130 articles and a selection of his Critical Essays, while remaining active in various political lobbying campaigns. He employed a housekeeper, Susan Watson, to look after his adopted son at the Islington flat, which visitors now described as “bleak”. In September he spent a fortnight on the island of Jura in the Inner Hebrides and saw it as a place to escape from the hassle of London literary life. David Astor was instrumental in arranging a place for Orwell on Jura. Astor’s family owned Scottish estates in the area and a fellow Old Etonian Robin Fletcher had a property on the island. In late 1945 and early 1946 Orwell made several hopeless and unwelcome marriage proposals to younger women, including Celia Kirwan (who was later to become Arthur Koestler‘s sister-in-law), Ann Popham who happened to live in the same block of flats and Sonia Brownell, one of Connolly’s coterie at the Horizon office. Orwell suffered a tubercular haemorrhage in February 1946 but disguised his illness. In 1945 or early 1946, while still living at Canonbury Square, Orwell wrote an article on “British Cookery”, complete with recipes, commissioned by the British Council. Given the post-war shortages, both parties agreed not to publish it. His sister Marjorie died of kidney disease in May and shortly after, on 22 May 1946, Orwell set off to live on the Isle of Jura.
Barnhill was an abandoned farmhouse with outbuildings near the northern end of the island, situated at the end of a five-mile (8 km), heavily rutted track from Ardlussa, where the owners lived. Conditions at the farmhouse were primitive but the natural history and the challenge of improving the place appealed to Orwell. His sister Avril accompanied him there and young novelist Paul Potts made up the party. In July Susan Watson arrived with Orwell’s son Richard. Tensions developed and Potts departed after one of his manuscripts was used to light the fire. Orwell meanwhile set to work on Nineteen Eighty-Four. Later Susan Watson’s boyfriend David Holbrook arrived. A fan of Orwell since school days, he found the reality very different, with Orwell hostile and disagreeable probably because of Holbrook’s membership of the Communist Party. Susan Watson could no longer stand being with Avril and she and her boyfriend left.
Orwell returned to London in late 1946 and picked up his literary journalism again. Now a well-known writer, he was swamped with work. Apart from a visit to Jura in the new year he stayed in London for one of the coldest British winters on record and with such a national shortage of fuel that he burnt his furniture and his child’s toys. The heavy smog in the days before the Clean Air Act 1956 did little to help his health about which he was reticent, keeping clear of medical attention. Meanwhile, he had to cope with rival claims of publishers Gollancz and Warburg for publishing rights. About this time he co-edited a collection titled British Pamphleteers with Reginald Reynolds. As a result of the success of Animal Farm, Orwell was expecting a large bill from the Inland Revenue and he contacted a firm of accountants of which the senior partner was Jack Harrison. The firm advised Orwell to establish a company to own his copyright and to receive his royalties and set up a “service agreement” so that he could draw a salary. Such a company “George Orwell Productions Ltd” (GOP Ltd) was set up on 12 September 1947 although the service agreement was not then put into effect. Jack Harrison left the details at this stage to junior colleagues.
Orwell left London for Jura on 10 April 1947. In July he ended the lease on the Wallington cottage. Back on Jura he worked on Nineteen Eighty-Four and made good progress. During that time his sister’s family visited, and Orwell led a disastrous boating expedition, on 19 August, which nearly led to loss of life whilst trying to cross the notorious gulf of Corryvreckan and gave him a soaking which was not good for his health. In December a chest specialist was summoned from Glasgow who pronounced Orwell seriously ill and a week before Christmas 1947 he was in Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, then a small village in the countryside, on the outskirts of Glasgow. Tuberculosis was diagnosed and the request for permission to import streptomycin to treat Orwell went as far as Aneurin Bevan, then Minister of Health. David Astor helped with supply and payment and Orwell began his course of streptomycin on 19 or 20 February 1948. By the end of July 1948 Orwell was able to return to Jura and by December he had finished the manuscript of Nineteen Eighty-Four. In January 1949, in a very weak condition, he set off for a sanatorium at Cranham, Gloucestershire, escorted by Richard Rees.
The sanatorium at Cranham consisted of a series of small wooden chalets or huts in a remote part of the Cotswolds near Stroud. Visitors were shocked by Orwell’s appearance and concerned by the short-comings and ineffectiveness of the treatment. Friends were worried about his finances, but by now he was comparatively well-off. He was writing to many of his friends, including Jacintha Buddicom, who had “rediscovered” him, and in March 1949, was visited by Celia Kirwan. Kirwan had just started working for a Foreign Office unit, the Information Research Department, set up by the Labour government to publish anti-communist propaganda, and Orwell gave her a list of people he considered to be unsuitable as IRD authors because of their pro-communist leanings. Orwell’s list, not published until 2003, consisted mainly of writers but also included actors and Labour MPs. Orwell received more streptomycin treatment and improved slightly. In June 1949 Nineteen Eighty-Four was published to immediate critical and popular acclaim.
Orwell’s health had continued to decline since the diagnosis of tuberculosis in December 1947. In mid-1949, he courted Sonia Brownell, and they announced their engagement in September, shortly before he was removed to University College Hospital in London. Sonia took charge of Orwell’s affairs and attended him diligently in the hospital, causing concern to some old friends such as Muggeridge. In September 1949, Orwell invited his accountant Harrison to visit him in hospital, and Harrison claimed that Orwell then asked him to become director of GOP Ltd and to manage the company, but there was no independent witness. Orwell’s wedding took place in the hospital room on 13 October 1949, with David Astor as best man. Orwell was in decline and visited by an assortment of visitors including Muggeridge, Connolly, Lucian Freud, Stephen Spender, Evelyn Waugh, Paul Potts, Anthony Powell, and his Eton tutor Anthony Gow. Plans to go to the Swiss Alps were mooted. Further meetings were held with his accountant, at which Harrison and Mr and Mrs Blair were confirmed as directors of the company, and at which Harrison claimed that the “service agreement” was executed, giving copyright to the company. Orwell’s health was in decline again by Christmas. On the evening of 20 January 1950, Potts visited Orwell and slipped away on finding him asleep. Jack Harrison visited later and claimed that Orwell gave him 25% of the company. Early on the morning of 21 January, an artery burst in Orwell’s lungs, killing him at age 46.
Orwell had requested to be buried in accordance with the Anglican rite in the graveyard of the closest church to wherever he happened to die. The graveyards in central London had no space, and fearing that he might have to be cremated against his wishes, his widow appealed to his friends to see whether any of them knew of a church with space in its graveyard.
David Astor lived in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, and arranged for Orwell to be interred in All Saints’ Churchyard there. Orwell’s gravestone bears the simple epitaph: “Here lies Eric Arthur Blair, born June 25th 1903, died January 21st 1950”; no mention is made on the gravestone of his more famous pen name.
Orwell’s son, Richard Horatio Blair, was brought up by Orwell’s sister Avril. He maintains a public profile as patron of the Orwell Society. He gives interviews about the few memories he has of his father.
In 1979, Sonia Brownell brought a High Court action against Harrison, who had in the meantime transferred 75% of the company’s voting stock to himself and had dissipated much of the value of the company. She was considered to have a strong case, but was becoming increasingly ill and eventually was persuaded to settle out of court on 2 November 1980. She died on 11 December 1980, aged 62.
Coming Up for Air, his last novel before World War II is the most “English” of his novels; alarms of war mingle with images of idyllic Thames-side Edwardian childhood of protagonist George Bowling. The novel is pessimistic; industrialism and capitalism have killed the best of Old England, and there were great, new external threats. In homely terms, Bowling posits the totalitarian hypotheses of Borkenau, Orwell, Silone and Koestler: “Old Hitler’s something different. So’s Joe Stalin. They aren’t like these chaps in the old days who crucified people and chopped their heads off and so forth, just for the fun of it … They’re something quite new – something that’s never been heard of before”.
In an autobiographical piece that Orwell sent to the editors of Twentieth Century Authors in 1940, he wrote: “The writers I care about most and never grow tired of are: Shakespeare, Swift, Fielding, Dickens, Charles Reade, Flaubert and, among modern writers, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence. But I believe the modern writer who has influenced me most is W. Somerset Maugham, whom I admire immensely for his power of telling a story straightforwardly and without frills.” Elsewhere, Orwell strongly praised the works of Jack London, especially his book The Road. Orwell’s investigation of poverty in The Road to Wigan Pier strongly resembles that of Jack London’s The People of the Abyss, in which the American journalist disguises himself as an out-of-work sailor to investigate the lives of the poor in London. In his essay “Politics vs. Literature: An Examination of Gulliver’s Travels” (1946) Orwell wrote: “If I had to make a list of six books which were to be preserved when all others were destroyed, I would certainly put Gulliver’s Travels among them.”
Throughout his life Orwell continually supported himself as a book reviewer, writing works so long and sophisticated they have had an influence on literary criticism. He wrote in the conclusion to his 1940 essay on Charles Dickens,
When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page. It is not necessarily the actual face of the writer. I feel this very strongly with Swift, with Defoe, with Fielding, Stendhal, Thackeray, Flaubert, though in several cases I do not know what these people looked like and do not want to know. What one sees is the face that the writer ought to have. Well, in the case of Dickens I see a face that is not quite the face of Dickens’s photographs, though it resembles it. It is the face of a man of about forty, with a small beard and a high colour. He is laughing, with a touch of anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry – in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.
George Woodcock suggested that the last two sentences characterised Orwell as much as his subject.
Orwell wrote a critique of George Bernard Shaw‘s play Arms and the Man. He considered this Shaw’s best play and the most likely to remain socially relevant, because of its theme that war is not, generally speaking, a glorious romantic adventure. His 1945 essay In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse contains an amusing assessment of his writing and also argues that his broadcasts from Germany (during the war) did not really make him a traitor. He accused The Ministry of Information of exaggerating Wodehouse’s actions for propaganda purposes.
Reception and evaluations of Orwell’s works
Arthur Koestler mentioned Orwell’s “uncompromising intellectual honesty [which] made him appear almost inhuman at times.”Ben Wattenberg stated: “Orwell’s writing pierced intellectual hypocrisy wherever he found it.” According to historian Piers Brendon, “Orwell was the saint of common decency who would in earlier days, said his BBC boss Rushbrook Williams, ‘have been either canonised – or burnt at the stake'”.Raymond Williams in Politics and Letters: Interviews with New Left Review describes Orwell as a “successful impersonation of a plain man who bumps into experience in an unmediated way and tells the truth about it.”Christopher Norris declared that Orwell’s “homespun empiricist outlook – his assumption that the truth was just there to be told in a straightforward common-sense way – now seems not merely naïve but culpably self-deluding”. The American scholar Scott Lucas has described Orwell as an enemy of the Left. John Newsinger has argued that Lucas could only do this by portraying “all of Orwell’s attacks on Stalinism [-] as if they were attacks on socialism, despite Orwell’s continued insistence that they were not.”
Orwell’s work has taken a prominent place in the school literature curriculum in England, with Animal Farm a regular examination topic at the end of secondary education (GCSE), and Nineteen Eighty-Four a topic for subsequent examinations below university level (A Levels). Alan Brown noted that this brings to the forefront questions about the political content of teaching practices. Study aids, in particular with potted biographies, might be seen to help propagate the Orwell myth so that as an embodiment of human values he is presented as a “trustworthy guide”, while examination questions sometimes suggest a “right ways of answering” in line with the myth.[clarification needed]
Historian John Rodden stated: “John Podhoretz did claim that if Orwell were alive today, he’d be standing with the neo-conservatives and against the Left. And the question arises, to what extent can you even begin to predict the political positions of somebody who’s been dead three decades and more by that time?”
In Orwell’s Victory, Christopher Hitchens argues, “In answer to the accusation of inconsistency Orwell as a writer was forever taking his own temperature. In other words, here was someone who never stopped testing and adjusting his intelligence”.
John Rodden points out the “undeniable conservative features in the Orwell physiognomy” and remarks on how “to some extent Orwell facilitated the kinds of uses and abuses by the Right that his name has been put to. In other ways there has been the politics of selective quotation.” Rodden refers to the essay “Why I Write“, in which Orwell refers to the Spanish Civil War as being his “watershed political experience”, saying “The Spanish War and other events in 1936–37, turned the scale. Thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and for Democratic Socialism as I understand it.” (emphasis in original) Rodden goes on to explain how, during the McCarthy era, the introduction to the Signet edition of Animal Farm, which sold more than 20 million copies, makes use of “the politics of ellipsis”:
If the book itself, Animal Farm, had left any doubt of the matter, Orwell dispelled it in his essay Why I Write: ‘Every line of serious work that I’ve written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against Totalitarianism … dot, dot, dot, dot.’ “For Democratic Socialism” is vaporised, just like Winston Smith did it at the Ministry of Truth, and that’s very much what happened at the beginning of the McCarthy era and just continued, Orwell being selectively quoted.
Fyvel wrote about Orwell: “His crucial experience … was his struggle to turn himself into a writer, one which led through long periods of poverty, failure and humiliation, and about which he has written almost nothing directly. The sweat and agony was less in the slum-life than in the effort to turn the experience into literature.”
In October 2015 Finlay Publisher, for the Orwell Society, published George Orwell ‘The Complete Poetry’, compiled and presented by Dione Venables.
Influence on language and writing
In his essay “Politics and the English Language” (1946), Orwell wrote about the importance of precise and clear language, arguing that vague writing can be used as a powerful tool of political manipulation because it shapes the way we think. In that essay, Orwell provides six rules for writers:
Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Andrew N. Rubin argues, “Orwell claimed that we should be attentive to how the use of language has limited our capacity for critical thought just as we should be equally concerned with the ways in which dominant modes of thinking have reshaped the very language that we use.”
The adjective Orwellian connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past. In Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwell described a totalitarian government that controlled thought by controlling language, making certain ideas literally unthinkable. Several words and phrases from Nineteen Eighty-Four have entered popular language. Newspeak is a simplified and obfuscatory language designed to make independent thought impossible. Doublethink means holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously. The Thought Police are those who suppress all dissenting opinion. Prolefeed is homogenised, manufactured superficial literature, film and music, used to control and indoctrinate the populace through docility. Big Brother is a supreme dictator who watches everyone.
Orwell may have been the first to use the term cold war to refer to the state of tension between powers in the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc that followed the Second World War, in his essay, “You and the Atom Bomb”, published in Tribune, 19 October 1945. He wrote:
We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity. James Burnham‘s theory has been much discussed, but few people have yet considered its ideological implications – this is, the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a State which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of ‘cold war’ with its neighbours.
In 2014 it was announced that Orwell’s birthplace, a bungalow in Motihari, Bihar, in India would become the world’s first Orwell museum.
In 2014 a play written by playwright Joe Sutton titled Orwell in America was first performed. It is a fictitious account of Orwell doing a book tour in America (something he never did in his lifetime). It moved to Off-Broadway in 2016.
Jacintha Buddicom‘s account Eric & Us provides an insight into Blair’s childhood. She quoted his sister Avril that “he was essentially an aloof, undemonstrative person” and said herself of his friendship with the Buddicoms: “I do not think he needed any other friends beyond the schoolfriend he occasionally and appreciatively referred to as ‘CC'”. She could not recall his having schoolfriends to stay and exchange visits as her brother Prosper often did in holidays. Cyril Connolly provides an account of Blair as a child in Enemies of Promise. Years later, Blair mordantly recalled his prep school in the essay “Such, Such Were the Joys“, claiming among other things that he “was made to study like a dog” to earn a scholarship, which he alleged was solely to enhance the school’s prestige with parents. Jacintha Buddicom repudiated Orwell’s schoolboy misery described in the essay, stating that “he was a specially happy child”. She noted that he did not like his name, because it reminded him of a book he greatly disliked – Eric, or, Little by Little, a Victorian boys’ school story.
Connolly remarked of him as a schoolboy, “The remarkable thing about Orwell was that alone among the boys he was an intellectual and not a parrot for he thought for himself”. At Eton, John Vaughan Wilkes, his former headmaster’s son recalled, “… he was extremely argumentative – about anything – and criticising the masters and criticising the other boys … We enjoyed arguing with him. He would generally win the arguments – or think he had anyhow.”Roger Mynors concurs: “Endless arguments about all sorts of things, in which he was one of the great leaders. He was one of those boys who thought for himself …”
Blair liked to carry out practical jokes. Buddicom recalls him swinging from the luggage rack in a railway carriage like an orangutan to frighten a woman passenger out of the compartment. At Eton he played tricks on John Crace, his Master in College, among which was to enter a spoof advertisement in a College magazine implying pederasty. Gow, his tutor, said he “made himself as big a nuisance as he could” and “was a very unattractive boy”. Later Blair was expelled from the crammer at Southwold for sending a dead rat as a birthday present to the town surveyor. In one of his As I Please essays he refers to a protracted joke when he answered an advertisement for a woman who claimed a cure for obesity.
Blair had an interest in natural history which stemmed from his childhood. In letters from school he wrote about caterpillars and butterflies, and Buddicom recalls his keen interest in ornithology. He also enjoyed fishing and shooting rabbits, and conducting experiments as in cooking a hedgehog or shooting down a jackdaw from the Eton roof to dissect it. His zeal for scientific experiments extended to explosives – again Buddicom recalls a cook giving notice because of the noise. Later in Southwold his sister Avril recalled him blowing up the garden. When teaching he enthused his students with his nature-rambles both at Southwold and Hayes. His adult diaries are permeated with his observations on nature.
Relationships and marriage
Buddicom and Blair lost touch shortly after he went to Burma, and she became unsympathetic towards him. She wrote that it was because of the letters he wrote complaining about his life, but an addendum to Eric & Us by Venables reveals that he may have lost her sympathy through an incident which was, at best, a clumsy attempt at seduction.
Mabel Fierz, who later became Blair’s confidante, said: “He used to say the one thing he wished in this world was that he’d been attractive to women. He liked women and had many girlfriends I think in Burma. He had a girl in Southwold and another girl in London. He was rather a womaniser, yet he was afraid he wasn’t attractive.”
Brenda Salkield (Southwold) preferred friendship to any deeper relationship and maintained a correspondence with Blair for many years, particularly as a sounding board for his ideas. She wrote: “He was a great letter writer. Endless letters, and I mean when he wrote you a letter he wrote pages.” His correspondence with Eleanor Jacques (London) was more prosaic, dwelling on a closer relationship and referring to past rendezvous or planning future ones in London and Burnham Beeches.
When Orwell was in the sanatorium in Kent, his wife’s friend Lydia Jackson visited. He invited her for a walk and out of sight “an awkward situation arose.” Jackson was to be the most critical of Orwell’s marriage to Eileen O’Shaughnessy, but their later correspondence hints at a complicity. Eileen at the time was more concerned about Orwell’s closeness to Brenda Salkield. Orwell had an affair with his secretary at Tribune which caused Eileen much distress, and others have been mooted. In a letter to Ann Popham he wrote: “I was sometimes unfaithful to Eileen, and I also treated her badly, and I think she treated me badly, too, at times, but it was a real marriage, in the sense that we had been through awful struggles together and she understood all about my work, etc.”Similarly he suggested to Celia Kirwan that they had both been unfaithful. There are several testaments that it was a well-matched and happy marriage.
Blair was very lonely after Eileen’s death, and desperate for a wife, both as companion for himself and as mother for Richard. He proposed marriage to four women, including Celia Kirwan, and eventually Sonia Brownell accepted. Orwell had met her when she was assistant to Cyril Connolly, at Horizon literary magazine. They were married on 13 October 1949, only three months before Orwell’s death. Some maintain that Sonia was the model for Julia in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Orwell regularly participated in the social and civic life of the church, and yet was an atheist, both critical of religious doctrine and of religious organisations. He attended Holy Communion at the Church of England regularly, and makes allusions to Anglican rites in his book A Clergyman’s Daughter. He was extremely well-read in Biblical literature and could quote lengthy passages from the Book of Common Prayer from memory. However, his forensic knowledge of the Bible came coupled with unsparing criticism of its philosophy, and as an adult he could not bring himself to believe in its tenets. He said clearly in part V of his essay, “Such, Such Were the Joys“: “Till about the age of fourteen I believed in God, and believed that the accounts given of him were true. But I was well aware that I did not love him.” Of his regular Church attendance, he said: “It seems rather mean to go to HC [Holy Communion] when one doesn’t believe, but I have passed myself off for pious & there is nothing for it but to keep up with the deception.”Despite this, he had two Anglican marriages and left instructions for an Anglican funeral. Orwell directly contrasted Christianity with secular humanism in his essay “Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool“, finding the latter philosophy more palatable and less “self-interested.” Literary critic James Wood wrote that in the struggle, as he saw it, between Christianity and humanism, “Orwell was on the humanist side, of course—basically an unmetaphysical, English version of Camus’s philosophy of perpetual godless struggle.”
Orwell’s writing was often explicitly critical of religion, and Christianity in particular. He found the church to be a “selfish … church of the landed gentry” with its establishment “out of touch” with the majority of its communicants and altogether a pernicious influence on public life. In their 1972 study, The Unknown Orwell, the writers Peter Stansky and William Abrahams noted that at Eton Blair displayed a “sceptical attitude” to Christian belief. Crick observed that Orwell displayed “a pronounced anti-Catholicism”.Evelyn Waugh, writing in 1946, acknowledged Orwell’s high moral sense and respect for justice but believed “he seems never to have been touched at any point by a conception of religious thought and life.” His contradictory and sometimes ambiguous views about the social benefits of religious affiliation mirrored the dichotomies between his public and private lives: Stephen Ingle wrote that it was as if the writer George Orwell “vaunted” his unbelief while Eric Blair the individual retained “a deeply ingrained religiosity”. Ingle later noted that Orwell did not accept the existence of an afterlife, believing in the finality of death while living and advocating a moral code based on Judeo-Christian beliefs.
Orwell liked to provoke arguments by challenging the status quo, but he was also a traditionalist with a love of old English values. He criticised and satirised, from the inside, the various social milieux in which he found himself – provincial town life in A Clergyman’s Daughter; middle-class pretension in Keep the Aspidistra Flying; preparatory schools in “Such, Such Were the Joys”; colonialism in Burmese Days, and some socialist groups in The Road to Wigan Pier. In his Adelphi days he described himself as a “Tory–anarchist.”
In 1928, Orwell began his career as a professional writer in Paris at a journal owned by the French Communist Henri Barbusse. His first article, “La Censure en Angleterre“, was an attempt to account for the ‘extraordinary and illogical’ moral censorship of plays and novels then practised in Britain. His own explanation was that the rise of the “puritan middle class,” who had stricter morals than the aristocracy, tightened the rules of censorship in the 19th century. Orwell’s first published article in his home country, “A Farthing Newspaper”, was a critique of the new French daily the Ami de Peuple. This paper was sold much more cheaply than most others, and was intended for ordinary people to read. Orwell pointed out that its proprietor François Coty also owned the right-wing dailies Le Figaro and Le Gaulois, which the Ami de Peuple was supposedly competing against. Orwell suggested that cheap newspapers were no more than a vehicle for advertising and anti-leftist propaganda, and predicted the world might soon see free newspapers which would drive legitimate dailies out of business.
The Spanish Civil War played the most important part in defining Orwell’s socialism. He wrote to Cyril Connolly from Barcelona on 8 June 1937: “I have seen wonderful things and at last really believe in Socialism, which I never did before.” Having witnessed the success of the anarcho-syndicalist communities, for example in Anarchist Catalonia, and the subsequent brutal suppression of the anarcho-syndicalists, anti-Stalin communist parties and revolutionaries by the Soviet Union-backed Communists, Orwell returned from Catalonia a staunch anti-Stalinist and joined the Independent Labour Party, his card being issued on 13 June 1938. Although he was never a Trotskyist, he was strongly influenced by the Trotskyist and anarchist critiques of the Soviet regime, and by the anarchists’ emphasis on individual freedom. In Part 2 of The Road to Wigan Pier, published by the Left Book Club, Orwell stated: “a real Socialist is one who wishes – not merely conceives it as desirable, but actively wishes – to see tyranny overthrown.” Orwell stated in “Why I Write” (1946): “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.” Orwell was a proponent of a federal socialist Europe, a position outlined in his 1947 essay “Toward European Unity,” which first appeared in Partisan Review. According to biographer John Newsinger,
the other crucial dimension to Orwell’s socialism was his recognition that the Soviet Union was not socialist. Unlike many on the left, instead of abandoning socialism once he discovered the full horror of Stalinist rule in the Soviet Union, Orwell abandoned the Soviet Union and instead remained a socialist – indeed he became more committed to the socialist cause than ever.”
In his 1938 essay “Why I joined the Independent Labour Party,” published in the ILP-affiliated New Leader, Orwell wrote:
For some years past I have managed to make the capitalist class pay me several pounds a week for writing books against capitalism. But I do not delude myself that this state of affairs is going to last forever … the only régime which, in the long run, will dare to permit freedom of speech is a Socialist régime. If Fascism triumphs I am finished as a writer – that is to say, finished in my only effective capacity. That of itself would be a sufficient reason for joining a Socialist party.
Towards the end of the essay, he wrote: “I do not mean I have lost all faith in the Labour Party. My most earnest hope is that the Labour Party will win a clear majority in the next General Election.”
Orwell was opposed to rearmament against Nazi Germany – but he changed his view after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the outbreak of the war. He left the ILP because of its opposition to the war and adopted a political position of “revolutionary patriotism”. In December 1940 he wrote in Tribune (the Labour left’s weekly): “We are in a strange period of history in which a revolutionary has to be a patriot and a patriot has to be a revolutionary.” During the war, Orwell was highly critical of the popular idea that an Anglo-Soviet alliance would be the basis of a post-war world of peace and prosperity. In 1942, commenting on journalist E. H. Carr‘s pro-Soviet views, Orwell stated: “all the appeasers, e.g. Professor E. H. Carr, have switched their allegiance from Hitler to Stalin.”
On anarchism, Orwell wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier: “I worked out an anarchistic theory that all government is evil, that the punishment always does more harm than the crime and the people can be trusted to behave decently if you will only let them alone.” He continued and argued that “it is always necessary to protect peaceful people from violence. In any state of society where crime can be profitable you have got to have a harsh criminal law and administer it ruthlessly.”
In his reply (dated 15 November 1943) to an invitation from the Duchess of Atholl to speak for the British League for European Freedom, he stated that he did not agree with their objectives. He admitted that what they said was “more truthful than the lying propaganda found in most of the press” but added that he could not “associate himself with an essentially Conservative body” that claimed to “defend democracy in Europe” but had “nothing to say about British imperialism.” His closing paragraph stated: “I belong to the Left and must work inside it, much as I hate Russian totalitarianism and its poisonous influence in this country.”
Orwell joined the staff of Tribune as literary editor, and from then until his death, was a left-wing (though hardly orthodox) Labour-supporting democratic socialist. On 1 September 1944, about the Warsaw uprising, Orwell expressed in Tribune his hostility against the influence of the alliance with the USSR over the allies: “Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for. Do not imagine that for years on end you can make yourself the boot-licking propagandist of the sovietic regime, or any other regime, and then suddenly return to honesty and reason. Once a whore, always a whore.” According to Newsinger, although Orwell “was always critical of the 1945–51 Labour government’s moderation, his support for it began to pull him to the right politically. This did not lead him to embrace conservatism, imperialism or reaction, but to defend, albeit critically, Labour reformism.” Between 1945 and 1947, with A. J. Ayer and Bertrand Russell, he contributed a series of articles and essays to Polemic, a short-lived British “Magazine of Philosophy, Psychology, and Aesthetics” edited by the ex-Communist Humphrey Slater.
Writing in early 1945 a long essay titled “Antisemitism in Britain,” for the Contemporary Jewish Record, Orwell stated that anti-Semitism was on the increase in Britain, and that it was “irrational and will not yield to arguments.” He argued that it would be useful to discover why anti-Semites could “swallow such absurdities on one particular subject while remaining sane on others.” He wrote: “For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. … Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own anti-Semitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness.” In Nineteen Eighty-Four, written shortly after the war, Orwell portrayed the Party as enlisting anti-Semitic passions against their enemy, Goldstein.
Orwell publicly defended P.G. Wodehouse against charges of being a Nazi sympathiser – occasioned by his agreement to do some broadcasts over the German radio in 1941 – a defence based on Wodehouse’s lack of interest in and ignorance of politics.
Special Branch, the intelligence division of the Metropolitan Police, maintained a file on Orwell for more than 20 years of his life. The dossier, published by The National Archives, states that, according to one investigator, Orwell had “advanced Communist views and several of his Indian friends say that they have often seen him at Communist meetings.” MI5, the intelligence department of the Home Office, noted: “It is evident from his recent writings – ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’ – and his contribution to Gollancz’s symposium The Betrayal of the Left that he does not hold with the Communist Party nor they with him.”
Orwell was noted for very close and enduring friendships with a few friends, but these were generally people with a similar background or with a similar level of literary ability. Ungregarious, he was out of place in a crowd and his discomfort was exacerbated when he was outside his own class. Though representing himself as a spokesman for the common man, he often appeared out of place with real working people. His brother-in-law Humphrey Dakin, a “Hail fellow, well met” type, who took him to a local pub in Leeds, said that he was told by the landlord: “Don’t bring that bugger in here again.” Adrian Fierz commented “He wasn’t interested in racing or greyhounds or pub crawling or shove ha’penny. He just did not have much in common with people who did not share his intellectual interests.” Awkwardness attended many of his encounters with working-class representatives, as with Pollitt and McNair, but his courtesy and good manners were often commented on. Jack Common observed on meeting him for the first time, “Right away manners, and more than manners – breeding – showed through.”
In his tramping days, he did domestic work for a time. His extreme politeness was recalled by a member of the family he worked for; she declared that the family referred to him as “Laurel” after the film comedian. With his gangling figure and awkwardness, Orwell’s friends often saw him as a figure of fun. Geoffrey Gorer commented “He was awfully likely to knock things off tables, trip over things. I mean, he was a gangling, physically badly co-ordinated young man. I think his feeling [was] that even the inanimate world was against him …” When he shared a flat with Heppenstall and Sayer, he was treated in a patronising manner by the younger men. At the BBC, in the 1940s, “everybody would pull his leg,” and Spender described him as having real entertainment value “like, as I say, watching a Charlie Chaplin movie.” A friend of Eileen’s reminisced about her tolerance and humour, often at Orwell’s expense. Psychiatrist Michael Fitzgerald has speculated that Orwell’s social and physical awkwardness, limited interests and monotone voice were the result of Asperger syndrome.
One biography of Orwell accused him of having had an authoritarian streak. In Burma, he struck out at a Burmese boy who, while “fooling around” with his friends, had “accidentally bumped into him” at a station, resulting in Orwell falling “heavily” down some stairs. One of his former pupils recalled being beaten so hard he could not sit down for a week. When sharing a flat with Orwell, Heppenstall came home late one night in an advanced stage of loud inebriation. The upshot was that Heppenstall ended up with a bloody nose and was locked in a room. When he complained, Orwell hit him across the legs with a shooting stick and Heppenstall then had to defend himself with a chair. Years later, after Orwell’s death, Heppenstall wrote a dramatic account of the incident called “The Shooting Stick” and Mabel Fierz confirmed that Heppenstall came to her in a sorry state the following day.
Orwell got on well with young people. The pupil he beat considered him the best of teachers, and the young recruits in Barcelona tried to drink him under the table – though without success. His nephew recalled Uncle Eric laughing louder than anyone in the cinema at a Charlie Chaplin film.
In the wake of his most famous works, he attracted many uncritical hangers-on, but many others who sought him found him aloof and even dull. With his soft voice, he was sometimes shouted down or excluded from discussions. At this time, he was severely ill; it was wartime or the austerity period after it; during the war his wife suffered from depression; and after her death he was lonely and unhappy. In addition to that, he always lived frugally and seemed unable to care for himself properly. As a result of all this, people found his circumstances bleak. Some, like Michael Ayrton, called him “Gloomy George,” but others developed the idea that he was a “secular saint.”
Although Orwell was frequently heard on the BBC for panel discussion and one-man broadcasts, no recorded copy of his voice is known to exist.
“By putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk, whereas one is likely to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round”
Orwell was a heavy smoker, who rolled his own cigarettes from strong shag tobacco, despite his bronchial condition. His penchant for the rugged life often took him to cold and damp situations, both in the long term, as in Catalonia and Jura, and short term, for example, motorcycling in the rain and suffering a shipwreck. Described by The Economist as “perhaps the 20th century’s best chronicler of English culture“, Orwell considered fish and chips, association football, the pub, strong tea, cut price chocolate, the movies, and radio among the chief comforts for the working class. Orwell enjoyed strong tea – he had Fortnum & Mason‘s tea brought to him in Catalonia. His 1946 essay, “A Nice Cup of Tea“, appeared in the London Evening Standard article on how to make tea, with Orwell writing, “tea is one of the mainstays of civilisation in this country and causes violent disputes over how it should be made”, with the main issue being whether to put tea in the cup first and add the milk afterward, or the other way round, on which he states, “in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject”. He appreciated English beer, taken regularly and moderately, despised drinkers of lager and wrote about an imagined, ideal British pub in his 1946 English Standard article, “The Moon Under Water“. Not as particular about food, he enjoyed the wartime “Victory Pie” and extolled canteen food at the BBC. He preferred traditional English dishes, such as roast beef and kippers. Reports of his Islington days refer to the cosy afternoon tea table.
His dress sense was unpredictable and usually casual. In Southwold, he had the best cloth from the local tailor but was equally happy in his tramping outfit. His attire in the Spanish Civil War, along with his size-12 boots, was a source of amusement.David Astor described him as looking like a prep school master, while according to the Special Branch dossier, Orwell’s tendency to dress “in Bohemian fashion” revealed that the author was “a Communist”.
Orwell’s confusing approach to matters of social decorum – on the one hand expecting a working-class guest to dress for dinner, and on the other, slurping tea out of a saucer at the BBC canteen – helped stoke his reputation as an English eccentric.
Views on homosexuality
Orwell was openly homophobic, at a time when such prejudice was not uncommon. Speaking at the 2003 George Orwell Centenary Conference, Daphne Patai said: “Of course he was homophobic. That has nothing to do with his relations with his homosexual friends. Certainly he had a negative attitude and a certain kind of anxiety, a denigrating attitude towards homosexuality. That is definitely the case. I think his writing reflects that quite fully.”
Orwell used the homophobic epithets “Nancy” and “pansy” as terms of abuse, notably in his expressions of contempt for what he called the “pansy Left”, and “nancy poets”, i.e. left-wing homosexual or bisexual writers and intellectuals such as Stephen Spender and W. H. Auden. The protagonist of Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Gordon Comstock, conducts an internal critique of his customers when working in a bookshop, and there is an extended passage of several pages in which he concentrates on a homosexual male customer, and sneers at him for his “Nancy” characteristics, including a lisp, which he identifies in detail, with some disgust. Dr Thomas S Veale, in The Banality of Virtue: A Multifaceted view of George Orwell as champion of the common man, refers to Orwell’s “homophobia most probably based on the perceived weakness of homosexuals and their preferences’ betrayal of the natural order”. Stephen Spender, however, “thought Orwell’s occasional homophobic outbursts were part of his rebellion against the public school”.
Biographies of Orwell
Orwell’s will requested that no biography of him be written, and his widow Sonia Brownell repelled every attempt by those who tried to persuade her to let them write about him. Various recollections and interpretations were published in the 1950s and ’60s, but Sonia saw the 1968 Collected Works as the record of his life. She did appoint Malcolm Muggeridge as official biographer, but later biographers have seen this as deliberate spoiling as Muggeridge eventually gave up the work. In 1972, two American authors, Peter Stansky and William Abrahams, produced The Unknown Orwell, an unauthorised account of his early years that lacked any support or contribution from Sonia Brownell.
Sonia Brownell then commissioned Bernard Crick, a left-wing professor of politics at the University of London, to complete a biography and asked Orwell’s friends to co-operate. Crick collated a considerable amount of material in his work, which was published in 1980, but his questioning of the factual accuracy of Orwell’s first-person writings led to conflict with Brownell, and she tried to suppress the book. Crick concentrated on the facts of Orwell’s life rather than his character, and presented primarily a political perspective on Orwell’s life and work.
After Sonia Brownell’s death, other works on Orwell were published in the 1980s, with 1984 being a particularly fruitful year for Orwelliana. These included collections of reminiscences by Coppard and Crick and Stephen Wadhams.
In 1991, Michael Shelden, an American professor of literature, published a biography. More concerned with the literary nature of Orwell’s work, he sought explanations for Orwell’s character and treated his first-person writings as autobiographical. Shelden introduced new information that sought to build on Crick’s work. Shelden speculated that Orwell possessed an obsessive belief in his failure and inadequacy.
Peter Davison‘s publication of the Complete Works of George Orwell, completed in 2000, made most of the Orwell Archive accessible to the public. Jeffrey Meyers, a prolific American biographer, was first to take advantage of this and published a book in 2001 that investigated the darker side of Orwell and questioned his saintly image.Why Orwell Matters (released in the UK as Orwell’s Victory) was published by Christopher Hitchens in 2002.
In 2003, the centenary of Orwell’s birth resulted in biographies by Gordon Bowker and D. J. Taylor, both academics and writers in the United Kingdom. Taylor notes the stage management which surrounds much of Orwell’s behaviour, and Bowker highlights the essential sense of decency which he considers to have been Orwell’s main motivation.
Now, THEREFORE, I, BARACK H. OBAMA, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Hillary Clinton for all offenses against the United States which she, Hillary Clinton, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 21, 2009 through February 1, 2013.
Would President Obama pardon Clinton?
President Obama doubled his presidential pardons
BREAKING: TRUMP QUIETLY ANNOUNCES HILLARY’S PROSECUTION IS MOVING FORWARD
Should the Trump administration prosecute Hillary Clinton?
Can Obama Pardon Hillary If She Hasn’t Been Indicted?” Is Trump Playing Obama?!
Napolitano: If Trump wins, Obama will pardon Clinton
BIG SURPRISE: MEDIA Betting OBAMA will PARDON Hillary before he Leaves the White House.
Donald Trump Warns President Obama Not to ‘Pardon Hillary Clinton and Her Co-Conspirators’
Jason Chaffetz Will President Obama Pardon Hillary Clinton
Would Obama pardon Clinton before he leaves office?
Should Obama pardon Hillary Clinton?
Obama Prepares Pardons For Hillary
Clinton Threat To “Destroy Everyone” Throws Washington Into Chaos
In dashing through his last few weeks in office, will one of Obama’s final acts be to pardon Hillary Clinton for any violations of federal law she might have committed while she was secretary of State?
It’s an interesting and complex question.
We should first note that the Obama administration’s decision not to prosecute Clinton would not bind the Trump administration. Until relevant statutes of limitations have expired, she could still be prosecuted by the new administration. It is possible, in my opinion, for Clinton to be prosecuted for either her improper handling of classified information on her “home brew” email server or allegations of “pay to play” arrangements between the secretary of State and donors to the Clinton Foundation, which could constitute bribery.
The statute of limitations for most federal crimes is five years from the commission of the offense; that would apply to the two categories relevant to Clinton. Her tenure as secretary of State ended Feb. 1, 2013, so it is possible that the statute of limitations will not run until Feb. 1, 2018, more than a year after Donald Trump takes office.
What looks like one question — will the president pardon Clinton? — turns out, on analysis, to be two. The first question is: Would Clinton wish to receive a pardon?
That question seems to be a proverbial no-brainer. Surely, any person who had been in federal government would be eager to receive a presidential pardon, because it eliminates even the possibility of federal prosecution. That looks like all upside and no downside.
But there is a downside, and it isn’t trivial. A pardon must be accepted by the person who is pardoned if it is to effectively stymie any prosecution.
Furthermore, there is solid legal precedent that acceptance of a pardon is equivalent to confession of guilt. A U.S. Supreme Court case from 1915 called Burdick v. U.S. establishes that principle; it has never been overturned.
If acceptance of a pardon by Clinton would amount to confession of guilt, would she nevertheless accept it? A multitude of factors would go into her decision.
She, together with her attorneys, would have to decide how likely it is that the Trump administration would prosecute her, and, if it did decide to prosecute, how likely the administration would be able to prove she had committed crimes.
Since being elected, Trump has been remarkably warm towards the person he used to call “Crooked Hillary.” But how confident could Clinton be that the Justice Department, under a Trump administration, would not prosecute?
Prosecutorial decisions are supposed to be independent of political considerations, so Trump’s recent friendliness should not be controlling once the new attorney general is in office.
If Clinton believes prosecutors might be able to make a strong case against her, the value to her of a pardon increases. If she is confident that any case against her would be weak or even futile, the pardon has less value.
If Clinton decides that, everything considered, she would prefer to receive a pardon, she would no doubt be able to convey that message to Obama, and then the ball would be in his court. Thus, the second question is: Would Obama grant Clinton’s request for a pardon?
From Obama’s perspective, the decision to grant or withhold a pardon is a political and a personal one. Legal considerations do not directly arise.
Like all presidents at the end of their terms, he is concerned about the legacy he leaves for history. Does he want his legacy to include a pardon of the secretary of State who served under him during the entirety of his first term in office?
Because acceptance of a pardon amounts to a confession of guilt, the acceptance by Clinton would, to a degree, besmirch both Clinton and also Obama. After all, Clinton was Obama’s secretary of State. If she was committing illegal acts as secretary, it happened literally on his watch.
On the other hand, if the new administration were to prosecute and convict Clinton of crimes committed while she was secretary, that might be an even greater embarrassment for Obama post-presidency.
In addition to calculations regarding his legacy, Obama and Clinton surely have developed over many years, both as opponents and as teammates, a personal relationship. If Clinton were to ask Obama for a pardon, how would that personal relationship play into his response? I cannot say.
Days after Trump won the election, the White House press secretary was asked by Jordan Fabian of The Hill whether Obama would consider pardoning Clinton. He carefully avoided a direct answer.
Instead, the press secretary said that, in cases where Obama had granted pardons, “[w]e didn’t talk in advance about those decisions.” He also expressed hope that the new administration would follow “a long tradition in this country of people in power not using the criminal justice system to exact political revenge.”
Of course, there is also a long tradition in this country that no one is above the law, no matter how high a position in government he or she might have formerly occupied.
So, those are the main considerations that would go into deciding a very complex question. It’s time for all of us to show our hands.
I’m saying yes, he will pardon her. Can you beat that?
David E. Weisberg is a semi-retired attorney and a member of the New York state bar. He currently resides in Cary, North Carolina, and has published pieces on the Social Science Research Network and in The Times of Israel.
Would Obama consider pardoning Clinton?
Trump has promised to put her in jail, but Obama could forestall that possibility with the stroke of a pen.
President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign was energized by calls to prosecute Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server containing classified information, but one man now has a unique power to frustrate the Trump partisans’ cries of “Lock her up!”: President Barack Obama.
Experts agree that Obama has the authority to foreclose that possibility by pardoning Clinton for any federal offenses she may have committed or could ever be prosecuted for. And he could do it whether she asks or not.
Story Continued Below
“The president here will, I’m sure, consider using what tools he has in his last couple of weeks, including a pardon, to do what he can before Trump takes over,” said Harold Krent, dean of the Chicago-Kent College of Law. “There’s a window and presidents have used those windows to accomplish a variety of goals.”
“What he’s going to do with this power in the next two months is really a good question,” said a close observer of the pardon process who asked not be named. “There are so many things on the table….This whole event is going to cause us to think even more about: what is this power?”
But such an act of clemency for Clinton is fraught with danger to Obama’s reputation and to hers, as any move to protect the failed Democratic presidential nominee would surely trigger charges of unfairness and political favoritism, while seeming to some to be an admission of guilt.
While Trump’s campaign-rhetoric about subjecting Clinton to a special prosecutor who would put her “in jail” was stark and fired up his crowds, he seems likely to softpedal that kind of talk in the coming weeks as he looks to bridge the stark divide in the country and build legitimacy.
Indeed, Wednesday morning, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway suggested the issue of prosecuting Clinton has moved to the back burner for now.
“We did not discuss that last night since his victory. And he certainly didn’t address it with Mrs. Clinton on the phone,” Conway said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“I think you heard his own words last night — to the extent that one man can as president, certainly Vice President Pence who’s phenomenal, they’re looking to unify the country. But we haven’t discussed that in recent days. And I think that it’s all in good time,” she added.
Still, a pardon would offer the only foolproof way to head off such a prosecution. And the window for Clinton’s best shot at clemency closes on Jan. 20.
Such a move by Obama could also be a boon of sorts for Trump. It would provide a convenient way for the incoming president not to follow through with a renewed investigation that could breed further resentment from Democrats.
When it comes to considering a pardon for Clinton, however, one of the biggest obstacles could be Obama’s own words.
At a press conference in August, Obama pledged to handle last-minute pardons by the book, distancing himself from the chaotic situation that played out in the final days of Bill Clinton’s presidency and tarnished his legacy.
“The process that I put in place is not going to vary depending on how close I get to the election. So it’s going to be reviewed by the pardon attorney, it will be reviewed by my White House counsel, and I’m going to, as best as I can, make these decisions based on the merits, as opposed to political considerations,” Obama said.
The White House on Wednesday refused to say whether Obama would consider pardoning Clinton , but appeared to issue a warning to Trump, saying powerful people should not exploit the criminal justice system for “political revenge.”
“As you know the president has offered clemency to a substantial number of Americans who were previously serving time in federal prisons,”, Earnest told reporters during the daily briefing. “And we didn’t talk in advance about the president’s plans to offer clemency to any of those individuals and that is because we don’t talk about the president’s thinking, particularly with respect to any specific cases that may apply to pardons or commutations.”
He added, “We have a long tradition in this country of people in power not using the criminal justice system to enact political revenge. In fact we go a long way to insulate the criminal justice system from partisan politics.”
Longtime Clinton lawyer David Kendall did not respond to a request for comment.
The legacy questions seem certain to be at the top of Obama’s mind. Ford’s pardon of Nixon was highly controversial and the time and helped cost Ford the 1976 election. Bill Clinton’s late-term pardons of financier Marc Rich and others unleashed a controversy that still mars Clinton’s image.
There are numerous precedents for a pre-trial pardon, including one in a high-profile case of mishandling classified information.
In one of his late term pardons in 2001, Clinton granted clemency to former CIA Director John Deutch, who had agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for storing classified information on his home computer. Deutch had actually signed a plea agreement, but the paperwork had never been filed in court.
Ford’s pardon of Nixon also came before any charges had been filed against him. The broadly-worded decree absolved Nixon of guilt “for all offenses against the United States which he…has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.”
Nixon never asked for or accepted the pardon, but that didn’t affect its validity. (A 1927 Supreme Court case says an unconditional pardon is valid whether or not it’s accepted by the recipient.)
Part of the fairness consideration in Clinton’s case would involve her own aides. How could Obama block a prosecution of Clinton but leave her aides and others caught up in the email fiasco without any protection?
It seems doubtful that a prosecutor would charge one or more Clinton aides or allies if she was off the hook, but it’s far from impossible. Oftentimes in such cases, aides wind up in prosecutors’ crosshairs even when higher-ranking officials escape charges.
A good example of that is Lewis (Scooter) Libby, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney, who was charged with lying and obstruction of justice in an investigation into who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
In 2007, Libby was convicted by a jury and sentenced to two and a half years in prison. President George W. Bush commuted the sentence, sparing Libby jail time. However, Bush turned down repeated pleas from Cheney to clear Libby with a full pardon.
Wording a Clinton pardon might not be easy, lawyers say.
If Obama is fully intent on closing the book on a Clinton prosecution, he could try to sweep in not only her conduct as secretary of state, but also her statements since and anything she might have done in connection with the Clinton Foundation. Moving in that direction would again raise questions of whether Obama would excuse others or just his former secretary of state.
While pre-trial, pre-charge pardons have been uncommon in recent years, there are many examples throughout American history.
In 1974, Ford issued an amnesty for Vietnam War draft dodgers and deserters, conditioned on two years of public service in U.S.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter issued a blanket, unconditional pardon to hundreds of thousands of men who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War era. Many had been charged, but most had not.
And in 1894, President Grover Cleveland pardoned an unnamed and uncounted number of Mormons in Utah, excusing them from prosecution for bigamy and related crimes.
The pardon power “is unlimited and unreviewable,” former House counsel Stan Brand said. “Constitutionally, certainly [Obama] could do that.”
Brand said he doubts Trump will follow through on his threats of a special prosecutor, but the former Congressional attorney acknowledged that’s a political judgment, so Clinton’s lawyers seem certain to consider the pardon option.
“If he wants to be president, he’s the president-elect now, he truly has to switch from campaign mode to governing mode,” Brand added. “I’d say good luck to them politically, if [Trump’s team] thinks that’s going to advance their agenda.”
A lot of us figured this was coming, but now the mainstream media is predicting the obvious in print.
In a piece by contributor David Weisberg over at The Hill, he declares that Obama will make sure to pardon Hillary Clinton “for any violations of federal law she might have committed while she was secretary of state.”
We should first note that the Obama administration’s decision not to prosecute Mrs. Clinton would not bind the Trump administration. Until relevant statutes of limitations have expired, she could still be prosecuted by the new administration. It is possible in my opinion for Clinton to be prosecuted for either her improper handling of classified information on “home brew,” or allegations of “pay to play” arrangements between the secretary of state and donors to the Clinton Foundation, which could constitute bribery.
The statute of limitations for most federal crimes is five years from the commission of the offense; that would apply to the two categories relevant to Mrs. Clinton. Her tenure as secretary of state ended Feb. 1, 2013, so it is possible that the statute of limitations will not run until Feb. 1, 2018, more than a year after Mr. Trump takes office.
Apparently, however, there is legal precedent for the acceptance of a pardon being equal to an admission of guilt. It was established by a 1915 U.S. Supreme Court case, Burdick v. U.S. which has never been overturned. In other words, if Hillary takes the pardon, she’s admitting she committed at least one crime she committed and needs to be pardoned for.
Then again, is it even likely Trump is actually going to prosecute Hillary anyway? Pretty much as soon as he won, he announced that he no longer planned to. Even Weisberg points out, “Since being elected, Mr. Trump has been remarkably warm towards the person he used to call ‘crooked Hillary’.” It’s been speculated Trump’s promise not to prosecute was part of the phone call ensuring Hillary would concede. Then again, they’d been pretty good friends for the two decades leading up to the election.
Weisberg goes on to say he thinks Obama’s pardon for Hillary is forthcoming. Why not. The White House won’t deny the option is being considered, even though, again, Trump has come out to say he does not plan to prosecute Hillary anyway.
Now, THEREFORE, I, GERALD R. FORD, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.
Hillary’s pardon will be just as ambiguously worded, to make sure and cover anything and everything (and there’s a lot to cover).
As projected, it’ll likely be dated for her entire tenure as Secretary of State, too.
Within a week after the November 4, 2008, presidential election, President-elect Obama and Clinton discussed over telephone the possibility of her serving as U.S. Secretary of State in his administration. Clinton later related, “He said I want you to be my secretary of state. And I said, ‘Oh, no, you don’t.’ I said, ‘Oh, please, there’s so many other people who could do this.'” Clinton initially turned Obama down, but he persisted. Some Democratic senators welcomed the idea of her leaving, having been allied with Obama during the campaign, and believing that Clinton had risked party disunity by keeping her candidacy going for so long.
Obama and Clinton held a meeting on the subject on November 11. When the possibility became public on November 14, it came as a surprising and dramatic move, especially given the long, sometimes bitter battle the two had waged during the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries. Obama had specifically criticized Clinton’s foreign policy credentials during the contests, and the initial idea of him appointing her had been so unexpected that she had told one of her own aides, “Not in a million years.” However, it has been reported that Obama had been thinking of the idea as far back as the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Despite the aggressiveness of the campaign and the still-lingering animosities between the two campaign staffs, as with many primary battles, the political differences between the candidates were never that great, the two rivals had reportedly developed a respect for one another, and she had campaigned for him in the general election.
Clinton was conflicted whether she wanted to take the position or remain in the Senate, and agonized over her decision. While the Senate leadership had discussed possible leadership positions or other promotions in rank with her even before the cabinet position became a possibility, nothing concrete had been offered. The prospect of her ever becoming Senate Majority Leader seemed dim. A different complication was Bill Clinton; she told Obama: “There’s one last thing that’s a problem, which is my husband. You’ve seen what this is like; it will be a circus if I take this job”, making reference to the volatile effect Bill Clinton had had during the primaries. In addition, there was a specific concern whether the financial and other involvements of Bill Clinton’s post-presidential activities would violate any conflict-of-interest rules for serving cabinet members. There was as well considerable media speculation about what effect taking the position would have on her political career and any possible future presidential aspirations. Clinton wavered over the offer, but as she later related, “But, you know, we kept talking. I finally began thinking, look, if I had won and I had called him, I would have wanted him to say yes. And, you know, I’m pretty old-fashioned, and it’s just who I am. So at the end of the day, when your president asks you to serve, you say yes, if you can.”Chief of Protocol of the United StatesCapricia Penavic Marshall, who had known Clinton since her First Lady days, later confirmed the same rationale: “When asked to serve, she does. And her president asked.”
On November 21, reports indicated that Clinton had accepted the position. On December 1, President-elect Obama formally announced that Clinton would be his nominee for Secretary of State. Clinton said she was reluctant to leave the Senate, but that the new position represented a “difficult and exciting adventure”. As part of the nomination, Bill Clinton agreed to accept a number of conditions and restrictions regarding his ongoing activities and fundraising efforts for the Clinton Presidential Center and Clinton Global Initiative.
The appointment required a Saxbe fix, which was passed and signed into law in December 2008 before confirmation hearings began. Confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee began on January 13, 2009, a week before the Obama inauguration. Clinton stated during her confirmation hearings that she believed that “the best way to advance America’s interests in reducing global threats and seizing global opportunities is to design and implement global solutions” and “We must use what has been called ‘smart power‘, the full range of tools at our disposal — diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural — picking the right tool or combination of tools for each situation. With smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of our foreign policy.”
On January 15, the Committee voted 16–1 to approve Clinton. Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana was the lone dissenting vote in the committee. By this time, Clinton’s public favorable/unfavorable rating had reached 65 percent, the highest point in her public career since the Lewinsky scandal during her time as First Lady, and 71 percent of the public approved of the nomination to the cabinet.
Even before taking office, Clinton was working together with Bush administration officials in assessing national security issues. The night before the inauguration of the new president, contingency plans against a purported plot by Somali extremists against Obama and the inauguration was being discussed. Clinton argued that typical security responses were not tenable: “Is the Secret Service going to whisk him off the podium so the American people see their incoming president disappear in the middle of the inaugural address? I don’t think so.” (The threat turned out to not exist.)
On January 21, 2009, Clinton was confirmed in the full Senate by a vote of 94–2. Vitter and Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina voted against the confirmation.
(On January 29, 2009, the constitutionality of her Saxbe fix was challenged in court by Judicial Watch; on October 30, 2009, the courts dismissed the case.)
During the Obama presidential transition, Clinton described her own transition as “difficult … in some respects, because [she] never even dreamed of it.” Then, and in the early days of her tenure, there was considerable jockeying for jobs within the department among those in “Hillaryland“, her longtime circle of advisors and staff aides, as well as others who had worked with her in the past, with not as many jobs as those desiring of them. Obama gave Clinton more freedom to choose her staff than he did to any other cabinet member.
Much like she did at the beginning of her Senate career, Clinton kept a low profile during her early months and worked hard to familiarize herself with the culture and institutional history of the department. She met or spoke with all of the living former secretaries, and especially relied upon her close friendship with Madeleine Albright.
At the start of her tenure, Obama and Clinton announced several high-profile special envoys to trouble spots in the world, including former Senate Majority LeaderGeorge Mitchell as Mideast envoy and Richard Holbrooke as envoy to South Asia and Afghanistan. On January 27, 2009, Secretary of State Clinton appointed Todd Stern as the department’s Special Envoy for Climate Change.
By May 2009, Clinton and the Obama administration intended to nominate Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners in Health, as Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), but by August 2009 his nomination was reportedly scotched by the White House for reasons unknown. This caused Clinton, while visiting USAID, to publicly criticize the long vetting process for administration appointments calling it a “nightmare” and “frustrating beyond words.” In November 2009, an unconventional choice was nominated instead, Rajiv Shah, a young Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics. Clinton said, “He has a record of delivering results in both the private and public sectors, forging partnerships around the world, especially in Africa and Asia, and developing innovative solutions in global health, agriculture, and financial services for the poor.”
During the transition period, Clinton sought to build a more powerful State Department. She began a push for a larger international affairs budget and an expanded role in global economic issues. She cited the need for an increased U.S. diplomatic presence, especially in Iraq where the U.S. Defense Department had conducted diplomatic missions.U.S. Secretary of DefenseRobert Gates agreed with her, and also advocated larger State Department budgets. Indeed, the two, and their respective departments, would have a productive relationship, unlike the often fraught relations between State and Defense and their secretaries seen in prior administrations.
Clinton also brought a message of departmental reform to the position, especially in regarding foreign aid programs as something that deserves the same status and level of scrutiny as diplomatic initiatives.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives at the State Department on her first day greeted by a standing room only crowd of Department employees.
Clinton spent her initial days as Secretary of State telephoning dozens of world leaders. She said the world was eager to see a new American foreign policy and that, “There is a great exhalation of breath going on around the world. We’ve got a lot of damage to repair.” She did indicate that not every past policy would be repudiated, and specifically said it was essential that the six-party talks over the North Korean nuclear weapons program continue. Clinton re-emphasized her views during her first speech to State Department employees when she said, “There are three legs to the stool of American foreign policy: defense, diplomacy, and development. And we are responsible for two of the three legs. And we will make clear, as we go forward, that diplomacy and development are essential tools in achieving the long-term objectives of the United States. And I will do all that I can, working with you, to make it abundantly clear that robust diplomacy and effective development are the best long-term tools for securing America’s future.” Clinton also soon visited the United States Agency for International Development, where she met employees and said they would be getting extra funds and attention during the new administration.
She kept a low profile when diplomatic necessity or Obama’s involvement required it, but maintained an influential relationship with the president and in foreign policy decisions. Her first 100 days found her travelling over 70,000 miles (110,000 km), having no trouble adapting to being a team player subordinate to Obama, and gaining skills as an executive. Nevertheless, she remained an international celebrity with a much higher profile than most Secretaries of State. Her background as an elected official gave her insight into the needs and fears of elected officials of other countries.
By the summer of 2009, there was considerable analysis and speculation in the media of what kind of role and level of influence Clinton had within the Obama administration, with a variety of assessments being produced. A prominent mid-July speech to the Council on Foreign Relations reasserted her role; she said, “We cannot be afraid or unwilling to engage. Our focus on diplomacy and development is not an alternative to our national security arsenal.”
In July 2009, Clinton announced a new State Department initiative, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, to establish specific objectives for the State Department’s diplomatic missions abroad. The most ambitious of Clinton’s departmental reforms, it is modeled after the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review, which Clinton was familiar with from her days on the Senate Armed Services Committee.The first such Review came out in December 2010. Entitled Leading Through Civilian Power, its 220 pages centered on the notion of elevating “civilian power” as a cost-effective way of responding to international challenges and defusing crises. It also sought the elevation of U.S. ambassadors in coordinating work of all abroad-tasked U.S. agencies. Clinton said of the underlying message, “Leading with civilians saves lives and money.” She also resolved to get Congress to approve the QDDR as a required part of the State Department planning process, saying, “I am determined that this report will not merely gather dust, like so many others.” Another theme of the report was the goal of empowering the female population in developing countries around the world; the QDDR mentioned women and girls some 133 times. In part this reflected incorporation into the QDDR of the Hillary Doctrine, which stipulates that women’s rights and violence against women around the world should be considered issues of national security to the United States. In addition, by attempting to institutionalize her goals in this area, Clinton – along with Anne-Marie Slaughter and Melanne Verveer, who also worked heavily in these efforts – were hoping that her initiatives and concerns towards the empowerment of women would persist past Clinton’s time in office as well as break a past pattern of chauvinism in the department.
In September, Clinton unveiled the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative at the annual meeting of her husband’s Clinton Global Initiative. The goal of the new initiative is to battle hunger worldwide on a strategic basis as a key part of U.S. foreign policy, rather than just react to food shortage emergencies as they occur. The secretary said that “Food security is not just about food. But it is all about security: economic security, environmental security, even national security. Massive hunger poses a threat to the stability of governments, societies and borders.” The initiative seeks to develop agricultural economies, counter malnourishment, increase productivity, expand trade, and spur innovation in developing nations. Clinton said that women would be placed at the center of the effort, as they constitute a majority of the world’s farmers. The next month, to mark World Food Day, Clinton said, “Fighting hunger and poverty through sustainable agricultural development, making sure that enough food is available and that people have the resources to purchase it, is a key foreign policy objective of the Obama administration.”
During October 2009, Clinton said, “this is a great job. It is a 24/7 job” and “this job is incredibly all-encompassing.” She said she never thought about if she were making the same foreign policy decisions as president, and had no intention of ever running for that office again. While some friends and former advisers thought she was primarily saying that to focus attention on her current role and that she might change her mind about running for president in the future, others felt that she was genuinely content with the direction her career and life had taken and no longer had presidential ambitions.
By the close of 2009 there were 25 female ambassadors posted by other nations to Washington; this was the highest number ever. This was dubbed the “Hillary effect” by some observers: “Hillary Clinton is so visible” as secretary of state, said Amelia Matos Sumbana, the Mozambique Ambassador to the United States, “she makes it easier for presidents to pick a woman for Washington.” An added fact, of course, was that two other recent U.S. Secretaries of State were women, but Clinton’s international fame from her days as First Lady of the United States made her impact in this respect the greatest of the group.
Clinton also included in the State Department budget for the first time a breakdown of programs that specifically concerned themselves with the well-being of women and girls around the world. By fiscal 2012, the department’s budget request for such work was $1.2 billion, of which $832 million was for global health programs. Additionally, she initiated the Women in Public Service Project, a joint venture between the State Department and the Seven Sisters colleges. The goal was to entice more women into entering public service, such that within four decades an equal number of men and women would be working in the field.
One specific cause Clinton advocated almost from the start of her tenure was the adoption of cookstoves in the developing world, to foster cleaner and more environmentally sound food preparation and reduce smoke dangers to women. In September 2010, she announced a partnership with the United Nations Foundation to provide some 100 million such stoves around the world within the next ten years, and in subsequent travels she urged foreign leaders to adopt policies encouraging their use.
In February 2010 testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Secretary Clinton complained about the slow pace of Senate confirmations of Obama’s nominations to diplomatic positions, a number of which were delayed for political reasons and had been subject to holds by individual Republican senators. Clinton said the problem damaged America’s image abroad: “It became harder and harder to explain to countries, particularly countries of significance, why we had nobody in position for them to interact with.”
In 2009, and again in 2010 and 2011, Clinton stated that she was committed to serving out her full term as secretary, but would not commit to serving a second term should Obama be re-elected.
She later used U.S. allies and what she called “convening power” to help keep the Libyan rebels unified as they eventually overthrew the Gaddafi regime.
Throughout her tenure, Clinton has looked towards “smart power” as the strategy for asserting U.S. leadership and values, combining military strength with U.S. capacities in global economics, development aid, and technology. In late 2011 she said, “All power has limits. In a much more networked and multipolar world we can’t wave a magic wand and say to China or Brazil or India, ‘Quit growing. Quit using your economies to assert power’ … It’s up to us to figure out how we position ourselves to be as effective as possible at different times in the face of different threats and opportunities.”
Clinton has also greatly expanded the State Department’s use of social media, including Facebook and Twitter, both to get its message out and to help empower people vis à via their rulers. Clinton said, “We are in the age of participation, and the challenge … is to figure out how to be responsive, to help catalyze, unleash, channel the kind of participatory eagerness that is there.” She has tried to institutionalize this change, by making social media a focus for foreign service officers and up to the ambassadorial level. (Other Clinton initiatives were run solely out of her office and were at risk of disappearing after she left office.) By late 2011, the department had 288 Facebook accounts and 192 Twitter feeds. The change was enough for daughter Chelsea Clinton to refer to the secretary as “TechnoMom”.
Regional issues and travels: 2009
Obama and Clinton speaking with one another at the 21st NATO summit in April 2009
In February 2009, Clinton made her first trip as secretary to Asia, visiting Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and China on what she described as a “listening tour” that was “intended to really find a path forward.” She continued to travel heavily in her first months in office, often getting very enthusiastic responses by engaging with the local populace.
In early March 2009, Clinton made her first trip as secretary to Israel. During this time, Clinton announced that the US government will dispatch two officials to the Syrian capital to explore Washington’s relationship with Damascus. On March 5, Clinton attended the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels. At this meeting, Clinton proposed including Iran at a conference on Afghanistan. Clinton said the proposed conference could be held on March 31 in the Netherlands. On March 6, a photo-op with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov intended to demonstrate the U.S. and Russia pressing the “reset button” on their relationship, in an effort to mend frayed ties, went a bit awry due to a mistranslation. (The word the Americans chose, “peregruzka”, meant “overloaded” or “overcharged”, rather than “reset”.) The episode became known as the Russian reset.
In June 2009, Clinton had surgery to repair a right elbow fracture caused by a fall in the State Department basement. The painful injury and recuperation caused her to miss two foreign trips. Nevertheless, during President Obama’s trip without her to Russia, Clinton was named as co-coordinator, along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, of a newly created U.S.-Russian Presidential Commission to discuss nuclear, economic, and energy and environmental policies relating to the two countries.
Clinton returned to the diplomatic scene and responded to the ongoing 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis, in which plans for the Honduran fourth ballot box referendum had led to the 2009 Honduran coup d’état, and which was becoming Latin America’s worst political crisis in some years. In early July, she sat down with ousted President of HondurasManuel Zelaya, who agreed on a U.S.-backed proposal to begin talks with the de factoRoberto Micheletti government. Later, in September, Zelaya returned to the country, and President of Costa RicaÓscar Arias, who had become a mediator in the matter, as well as Clinton expressed hope that Zelaya’s return could break the impasse with the Micheletti government. In particular, Clinton said, “Now that President Zelaya is back it would be opportune to restore him to his position under appropriate circumstances – get on with the election that is currently scheduled for November, have a peaceful transition of presidential authority and get Honduras back to constitutional and democratic order.” At the end of October, Clinton took a leading role in convincing Micheletti to accept a deal – which she termed an “historic agreement” – in which Zelaya would return to power in advance of general elections in which neither figure was running. Micheletti said that Clinton had been insistent on this point: “I kept trying to explain our position to her, but all she kept saying was, ‘Restitution, restitution, restitution.'” That agreement broke down, despite efforts of the State Department to revive it, and Clinton and the U.S. ended up supporting the winner of the 2009 Honduran general election, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, with Clinton characterizing the elections as “free and fair” and Lobo as holding a strong commitment to democracy and the rule of constitutional law.
In August 2009, Clinton embarked on her longest trip yet, to a number of stops in Africa. On August 10, 2009, at a public event in Kinshasa, a Congolese student asked her what her husband, “Mr Clinton”, thought of a Chinese trade deal with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Clinton looked irritated at the question and replied, “Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the secretary of state, I am. So you ask my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channeling my husband.” The incident was played in newsrooms around the world. Clinton aides suggested there might have been a mistranslation, but that was not the case; however the student had later apologized to her, saying he had meant to ask what “Mr Obama” thought.
In October 2009, Clinton’s intervention – including juggling conversations on two mobile phones while sitting in a limousine – overcame last-minute snags and saved the signing of an historic Turkish–Armenian accord that established diplomatic relations and opened the border between the two long-hostile nations.
In late October 2009, Clinton travelled to Pakistan, where she had staged a memorable visit in 1995 while First Lady. Her arrival was followed within hours by the 28 October 2009 Peshawar bombing; in response, Clinton said of those responsible, “They know they are on the losing side of history but they are determined to take as many lives with them as their movement is finally exposed for the nihilistic, empty effort that it is.” In addition to meeting with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, she also staged numerous public appearances. In those, she let students, talk show hosts, and tribal elders repeatedly complain about and criticize American foreign policy and American actions. Occasionally, she pushed back in a more blunt fashion than usual for diplomats, explicitly wondering why Pakistan had not been more successful in combating al Qaeda “if they wanted to.” Member of Parliament and government spokesperson Farahnaz Ispahani said, “In the past, when the Americans came, they would talk to the generals and go home. Clinton’s willingness to meet with everyone, hostile or not, has made a big impression – and because she’s Hillary Clinton, with a real history of affinity for this country, it means so much more.”
In November 2009, Secretary Clinton led the U.S. delegation at the 20th anniversary celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall. There, she said: “Our history did not end the night the wall came down, it began anew. … To expand freedom to more people, we cannot accept that freedom does not belong to all people. We cannot allow oppression defined and justified by religion or tribe to replace that of ideology.”
In December 2009, Clinton attended the Copenhagen United Nations Climate Change Conference, where she pushed forward a last-minute proposal of significant new amounts of foreign aid to help developing countries deal with the effects of global warming, in an attempt to unstick stuck negotiations and salvage some sort of agreement at the conference. The secretary said, “We’re running out of time. Without the accord, the opportunity to mobilize significant resources to assist developing countries with mitigation and adaptation will be lost.” The amount of aid she proposed, $100 billion, was in the modest terms of the Copenhagen Accord that was agreed to by the summit.
In January 2010, Secretary Clinton cut short a trip to the Asia-Pacific region in order to see firsthand the destructive effects of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and to meet with President of Haiti René Préval. Clinton said she would also evaluate the relief effort and help evacuate some Americans. She stressed that her visit was designed not to interfere with ongoing efforts: “It’s a race against time. Everybody is pushing as hard as they can.” The Clintons had a special interest in Haiti going back decades, to their delayed honeymoon there up to Bill Clinton being the United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti at the time of the earthquake.
In a major speech on January 21, 2010, Clinton, speaking on behalf of the U.S., declared that “We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas”, while highlighting how “even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.” She also drew analogies between the Iron Curtain and the free and unfree Internet. Her speech, which followed a controversy surrounding Google‘s changed policy toward China and censorship, appears to mark a split between authoritarian capitalism and the Western model of free capitalism and Internet access. Chinese officials responded strongly, saying Clinton’s remarks were “harmful to Sino-American relations” and demanded that U.S. officials “respect the truth”, and some foreign policy observers thought that Clinton had been too provocative. But the White House stood behind Clinton, and demanded that China provide better answers regarding the recent Chinese cyberattack against Google. Clinton’s speech garnered marked attention among diplomats, as it was the first time a senior American official had clearly put forth a vision in which the Internet was a key element of American foreign policy.
By early 2010, the Obama administration’s efforts towards forging a new relationship with Iran had failed to gain headway, and the U.S. adopted a policy of adopting international sanctions against it and isolating it diplomatically in order to curtail the that country’s nuclear program. This was a policy more in line with Clinton’s thinking and went back to disagreements she and Obama had had during the 2008 presidential campaign. Clinton was put in charge of rallying support in the United Nations for these sanctions and spent considerable time over the following months and years doing so. At times Clinton suggested the possibility of military action against Iran should economic and diplomatic actions fail to deter it from its nuclear ambitions.
In February 2010, Clinton made her first visit to Latin America as secretary. The tour would take her to Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica and Guatemala and Argentina. She first visited Buenos Aires and talked to Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. They discussed Falkland Islands sovereignty and the issue of oil in the Falklands. Clinton said that “We would like to see Argentina and the United Kingdom sit down and resolve the issues between them across the table in a peaceful, productive way.” Clinton offered to help facilitate such discussions, but did not agree to an Argentinian request that she mediate such talks. Within 12 hours of Clinton’s remarks, Downing Street categorically rejected a U.S. role: “We welcome the support of the secretary of state in terms of ensuring that we continue to keep diplomatic channels open but there is no need for [direct involvement].” Clinton then went on to Santiago, Chile to witness the aftereffects of the 2010 Chile earthquake and to bring some telecommunications equipment to aid in the rescue and recovery efforts.
In April 2010, there was a flurry of speculation that Clinton would be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by Justice John Paul Stevens‘ retirement, including a plug from ranking Senate Judiciary Committee member Orrin Hatch. The notion was quickly quashed by the White House, which said, “The president thinks Secretary Clinton is doing an excellent job as secretary of state and wants her to remain in that position.” A State Department spokesperson said that Clinton “loves her present job and is not looking for another one.”
By mid-2010, Clinton and Obama had clearly forged a good working relationship without power struggles; she was a team player within the administration and a defender of it to the outside, and was careful to make sure that neither she nor her husband would upstage him. He in turn was accommodating to her viewpoints and in some cases adopted some of her more hawkish approaches. She met with him weekly, but did not have the close, daily relationship that some of her predecessors had had with their presidents, such as Condoleezza Rice with George W. Bush, James Baker with George H. W. Bush, or Henry Kissinger with Richard Nixon. Nevertheless, he had trust in her actions.
During an early June 2010 visit to Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, Clinton dealt with questions at every stop about the recently passed and widely controversial Arizona SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law, which had damaged the image of the U.S. in Latin America. When answering a question from local television reporters in Quito about it, she said that President Obama was opposed to it and that “The Justice Department, under his direction, will be bringing a lawsuit against the act.” This was the first public confirmation that the Justice Department would act against the law; a month later, it became official as the lawsuit United States of America v. Arizona. While at a hotel bar in Lima, she completed an agreement with a representative of China over which companies could be specified in a UN resolution sanctioning the nuclear program of Iran. Returning to SB 1070, in August 2010 she included the dispute over it in a report to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as an example to other countries of how fractious issues can be resolved under the rule of law.
In July 2010, Clinton visited Pakistan for the second time as secretary, announcing a large new U.S. economic assistance package to that country as well as a U.S.-led bilateral trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan. She then traveled to Afghanistan for the Kabul Conference on the situation there, during which President Hamid Karzai vowed to implement much-promised legal, political, and economic reforms in exchange for a continued Western commitment there. Clinton said that despite the scheduled U.S. drawdown there in 2011, the U.S. has “no intention of abandoning our long-term mission of achieving a stable, secure, peaceful Afghanistan. Too many nations – especially Afghanistan – have suffered too many losses to see this country slide backward.” She then went on to Seoul and the Korean Demilitarized Zone where she and Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan and Minister of National Defense Kim Tae-young in a ‘2+2 meeting’ to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. There she said that the U.S. experience in staying in Korea for decades had led to a successful result, which might also be applicable to Afghanistan. Finally, she went to Hanoi, Vietnam, for the ASEAN Regional Forum, wrapping up what The New York Times termed “a grueling trip that amounted to a tour of American wars, past and present”. There she injected the U.S. into the long-running disputes over the sovereignty of the Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands, much to the displeasure of the Chinese who view the South China Sea as part of their core interests, by saying “The United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation, open access to Asia’s maritime commons and respect for international law in the South China Sea.”
By this time, Secretary Clinton was quite busy with another role of a kind, “M.O.T.B.” as she wrote in State Department memos, making reference to her being the mother of the bride in daughter Chelsea Clinton‘s July 31, 2010, wedding to Marc Mezvinsky. She confessed in an interview in Islamabad less than two weeks before the wedding that she and her husband were both nervous wrecks, and that “You should assume that if he makes it down the aisle in one piece it’s going to be a major accomplishment. He is going to be so emotional, as am I.” The event itself gained a large amount of media attention.
In a September 2010 speech before the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton emphasized the continuing primacy of American power and involvement in the world, declaring a “new American moment”. Making reference to actions from reviving the Middle East talks to U.S. aid following the 2010 Pakistan floods, Clinton said that “The world is counting on us” and that “After years of war and uncertainty, people are wondering what the future holds, at home and abroad. So let me say it clearly: The United States can, must, and will lead in this new century.”
With Democrats facing possible large losses in the 2010 midterm elections and President Obama struggling in opinion polls, idle speculation in Washington media circles concerning Obama’s chances in the 2012 presidential election led to the notion that Clinton would take over as Obama’s vice-presidential running mate in 2012 to add to his electoral appeal. Some versions of this idea had Vice President Biden replacing her as Secretary of State if Obama won. That it would ever happen was unlikely, but did not stop the chatter; when the job swap idea was mentioned in public to Clinton, she smiled and shook her head. A couple of months later, Obama shot down the idea, saying the notion was “completely unfounded” and that “they are both doing outstanding jobs where they are.” (In late 2011, however, with Obama’s popularity on the decline, White House Chief of Staff William M. Daley did conduct some research into the idea of Clinton replacing Biden, but the notion was dropped when the results showed no appreciable improvement for Obama.)
Over the summer of 2010, the stalled peace process in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict was potentially revived when the various parties involved agreed to direct talks for the first time in a while. While President Obama was the orchestrator of the movement, Secretary Clinton had gone through months of cajoling just to get the parties to the table, and helped convince the reluctant Palestinians by getting support for direct talks from Egypt and Jordan. She then assumed a prominent role in the talks; Speaking at a September 2 meeting at the State Department between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, she acknowledged that, “We’ve been here before, and we know how difficult the road ahead will be.” Her role in the ongoing talks would be to take over from U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George J. Mitchell when discussions threatened to break down. The talks were generally given little chance to succeed, and Clinton faced the history of many such past failures, including the near miss of her husband at the 2000 Camp David Summit. Nevertheless, her prominent role in them thrust her further into the international spotlight and had the potential to affect her legacy as secretary.
In October, Clinton embarked on a seven-nation tour of Asia and Oceania. In New Zealand she signed the “Wellington Declaration”, which normalized the diplomatic and military relationship between it and the United States. The signing marked twenty-five years after the United States suspended ANZUS treaty obligations with New Zealand in the wake of the USS Buchanan incident.
Clinton maintained her high approval ratings during 2010. An aggregation of polls taken during the late portion or all of 2010 showed that Clinton (and her husband as well) had by far the best favorable-unfavorable ratings of any key contemporary American political figure.
In late November, WikiLeaks released confidential State Department cables, selections of which were then published by several major newspapers around the world. The leak of the cables led to a crisis atmosphere in the State Department, as blunt statements and assessments by U.S. and foreign diplomats became public. Clinton led the damage control effort for the U.S. abroad, and also sought to bolster the morale of shocked Foreign Service officers. In the days leading up to the publication of the cables, Clinton called officials in Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, France, Afghanistan, Canada, and China to alert them to the pending disclosures. She did note that some foreign leaders were accepting of the frank language of the cables, with one telling her, “Don’t worry about it. You should see what we say about you.” She harshly criticized WikiLeaks, saying: “Let’s be clear: This disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community – the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.” The State Department went into immediate “war room” mode in order to deal with the effects of the disclosures, and began implementing measures to try to prevent another such leak from happening in the future.
A few of the cables released by WikiLeaks concerned Clinton directly: they revealed that directions to members of the foreign service had gone out in 2009 under Clinton’s name to gather biometric details on foreign diplomats, including officials of the United Nations and U.S. allies. These included Internet and intranet usernames, e-mail addresses, web site URLs useful for identification, credit card numbers, frequent flier account numbers, work schedules, and other targeted biographical information in a process known as the National Humint Collection Directive. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said that Clinton had not drafted the directive and that the Secretary of State’s name is systematically attached to the bottom of cables originating from Washington; it was unclear whether Clinton had actually seen them. The guidance in the cables was actually written by the CIA before being sent out under Clinton’s name, as the CIA cannot directly instruct State Department personnel. The disclosed cables on the more aggressive intelligence gathering went back to 2008 when they went out under Condoleezza Rice‘s name during her tenure as Secretary of State. The practice of the U.S. and the State Department gathering intelligence on the U.N. or on friendly nations was not new, but the surprise in this case was that it was done by other diplomats rather than intelligence agencies, and that the specific types of information being asked for went beyond past practice and was not the kind of information diplomats would normally be expected to gather. In any case, the instructions given in these cables may have been largely ignored by American diplomats as ill-advised. Responding to calls from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and a few others that Clinton possibly step down from her post due to the revelation, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “I think that is absurd and ridiculous. I think Secretary of State Clinton is doing a wonderful job.”
On December 1, Clinton flew to a summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Astana, Kazakhstan. There she would encounter some fifty leaders who were subjects of embarrassing comments in the leaks, including President of KazakhstanNursultan Nazarbayev. A Kazakh official said that during such encounters, Clinton “kept her face. She didn’t run away from difficult questions.” During the encounters she emphasized that the leaked cables did not reflect official U.S. policy but rather were just instances of individual diplomats giving unfiltered feedback to Washington about what they saw happening in other countries. The situation led to some leaders turning her strong remarks about Internet freedom earlier in the year back against her. The OSCE summit also featured a meeting between Secretary Clinton and Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. In an attempt to repair the strain caused by the Humint spying relevations, Clinton expressed regret to Ban for the disclosures, but did not make an apology per se. A U.N. statement relayed that Ban thanked Clinton “for clarifying the matter and for expressing her concern about the difficulties created.”
Upon the December 13 death of veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke (who had initially fallen ill during a meeting with her), Clinton presided over a spontaneous gathering of some forty senior State Department personnel and Holbrooke aides at George Washington University Hospital, reminiscing about him. At a memorial service for him days later, both Clinton and her husband praised Holbrooke’s work, and she said, “Everything that we have accomplished that is working in Afghanistan and Pakistan is largely because of Richard.” As it happened, however, Holbrooke had developed poor relations with the White House during his time as Afghanistan envoy, and Clinton’s vision of him forging an agreement in that country that modeled the success of his prior Dayton Accords (that resolved the Bosnian War) were unrealized.
On December 22, 2010, Secretary Clinton returned to the floor of the Senate during the lame-duck session of the 111th Congress to witness the ratification, by a 71–26 margin, of the New START treaty. Clinton had spent the several days beforehand repeatedly calling wavering senators and seeking to gain their support.
Secretary Clinton began the year 2011 abroad, attending the Inauguration of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, having been sent by President Obama to represent the U.S. Rousseff was the first woman to rule that country. While there, she ran into Venezuelan ruler and U.S. antagonist Hugo Chávez, but the two had a pleasant exchange; Chávez said “She had a very spontaneous smile and I greeted her with the same effusiveness.”
In mid-January, Clinton made a four-country trip to the Middle East, visiting Yemen, Oman, The United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. Speaking at a conference in Doha, she criticized Arab governments’ failure to move more rapidly vis à vis reform in unusually blunt language, saying, “In too many places, in too many ways, the region’s foundations are sinking into the sand. The new and dynamic Middle East that I have seen needs firmer ground if it is to take root and grow everywhere.” Her visit to Yemen, the first such visit by a Secretary of State in 20 years, found her focusing on the dangers of terrorism emanating from that country. An impromptu tour around the walled old city of Sana’a found Clinton being cheered by onlooking schoolchildren. A trip and fall while boarding the departing airplane left Clinton unhurt but news services making predictable witticisms.
When the 2011 Egyptian protests began, Clinton was in the forefront of the administration’s response. Her initial public assessment on January 25 that the government of President Hosni Mubarak was “stable” and “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people” soon came under criticism for being tepid and behind the curve of developing events, although others agreed that the U.S. could not be out front in undermining the government of a long-term ally. By the next day, Clinton was criticizing the Egyptian government’s blocking of social media sites. By January 29, Obama had put Clinton in charge of sorting out the administration’s so-far confused response to developments. During the frenetic day of January 30, she combined appearances on all five Sunday morning talk shows – where she stated publicly for the first time the U.S.’s view that there needed to be an “orderly transition” to a “democratic participatory government” and a “peaceful transition to real democracy”, not Mubarak’s “faux democracy” – with a flight to Haiti and back to mark the anniversary of its terrible earthquake, all the while engaging in conference calls again regarding Egypt.
The Egyptian protests became the most critical foreign policy crisis so far for the Obama administration, and Obama came to increasingly rely upon Clinton for advice and connections. Clinton had known Mubarak for some twenty years, and had formed a close relationship with Egyptian First Lady Suzanne Mubarak by supporting the latter’s human rights work. Clinton originated the idea of sending Frank G. Wisner as an emissary to Cairo, to tell Mubarak not to seek another term as the country’s leader. As Mubarak’s response to the protests became violent in early February, Clinton strongly condemned the actions taking place, especially those against journalists covering the events, and urged new Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman to conduct an official investigation to hold those responsible for the violence accountable. When Wisner baldly stated that Mubarak’s departure should be delayed to accommodate an orderly transition to another government, Clinton rebuked him, but shared a bit of the same sentiment. Mubarak did finally step down on February 11 as the protests became the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Clinton said that the U.S. realized that Egypt still had much work and some difficult times ahead of it. In mid-March, Clinton visited Egypt and indicated support for an Egyptian move towards democracy, but she avoided specific issues of U.S. aid and when elections should take place.
President Obama was reportedly unhappy with U.S. intelligence agencies following their failure to foresee the 2010–2011 Tunisian uprising and the downfall of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali as well as the Egyptian protests. Responding to criticism that the State Department had failed to see the developments in Egypt coming, Clinton defended the U.S. in an interview on Al-Arabiya, saying “I don’t think anybody could have predicted we’d be sitting here talking about the end of the Mubarak presidency at the time that this all started.”
Reflecting on not just the situation in Tunisia and Egypt but also on the, the 2011 Yemeni protests, and the 2011 Jordanian protests, Clinton said at a February 5 meeting of the Quartet on the Middle East, “The region is being battered by a perfect storm of powerful trends. … This is what has driven demonstrators into the streets of … cities throughout the region. The status quo is simply not sustainable.” She said that while transition to democracy could be chaotic – and free elections had to be accompanied by free speech, a free judiciary, and the rule of law in order to be effective – in the end “free people govern themselves best”. The transformations highlighted that traditional U.S. foreign policy in the region had sided with rulers who suppressed internal dissent but provided stability and generally supported U.S. goals in the region. When the monarchy’s response to the 2011 Bahraini protests turned violent, Clinton urged a return to the path of reform, saying that violence against the protesters “is absolutely unacceptable … We very much want to see the human rights of the people protected, including right to assemble, right to express themselves, and we want to see reform.” At the same time, she said that the U.S. “cannot tell countries what they are going to do [and] cannot dictate the outcomes.” As the situation in Bahrain lingered on and continued to have episodes of violence against protesters, Clinton said in mid-March, “Our goal is a credible political process that can address the legitimate aspirations of all the people of Bahrain … Violence is not and cannot be the answer. A political process is. We have raised our concerns about the current measures directly with Bahraini officials and will continue to do so.”
When the 2011 Libyan civil war began in mid-February and intensified into armed conflict with rebel successes in early March 2011, Clinton stated the administration’s position that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi “must go now, without further violence or delay”. As Gaddafi conducted counterattacks against the rebels, Clinton was initially reluctant, as was Obama, to back calls being made in various quarters for imposition of a Libyan no-fly zone. However, as the prospects of a Gaddafi victory and possible subsequent bloodbath that would kill many thousands emerged, and as Clinton travelled Europe and North Africa and found support for military intervention increasing among European and Arab leaders, she had a change of view. Together with Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice and National Security Council figure Samantha Power, who were already supporting military intervention, Clinton overcame opposition from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, security advisor Thomas Donilon, and counterterrorism advisor John Brennan, and the administration backed U.N. action to impose the no-fly zone and authorize other military actions as necessary. Clinton helped gained the financial and political support of several Arab countries, in particular convincing Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan that a no-fly zone urged by the Arab League would not be sufficient and that air-to-ground attacks would be necessary. Clinton then persuaded Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that his country should abstain on the UN resolution authorizing force against Gaddafi, and Rice and Clinton played major roles in getting the rest of the United Nations Security Council to approve United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. Regarding whether the U.S. or some other ally would send arms to the anti-Gaddafi forces, Clinton said that this would be permissible under the resolution, but that no decision had yet been made on doing so.
Clinton testified to Congress in March that the administration did not need congressional authorization for its military intervention in Libya or for further decisions about it, despite congressional objections from members of both parties that the administration was violating the War Powers Resolution. During that classified briefing to Congress, she allegedly indicated that the administration would sidestep the Resolution’s provision regarding a 60-day limit on unauthorized military actions. Months later, she stated that, with respect to the military operation in Libya, the United States was still flying a quarter of the sorties, and the New York Times reported that, while many presidents had bypassed other sections of the War Powers Resolution, there was little precedent for exceeding the 60-day statutory limit on unauthorized military actions – a limit which the Justice Department had said in 1980 was constitutional. The State Department publicly took the position in June 2011 that there was no “hostility” in Libya within the meaning of the War Powers Resolution, contrary to legal interpretations by the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel. The State Department requested (but never received) express Congressional authorization. The US House of Representatives voted to rebuke the administration for maintaining an American presence with the NATO operations in Libya, which they considered a violation of the War Powers Resolution.
While Clinton recognized some of the contradictions of U.S. policy towards turmoil in the Mideast countries, which involving backing some regimes while supporting protesters against others, she was nevertheless passionate on the subject, enough so that Obama joked at the annual Gridiron Dinner that “I’ve dispatched Hillary to the Middle East to talk about how these countries can transition to new leaders — though, I’ve got to be honest, she’s gotten a little passionate about the subject. These past few weeks it’s been tough falling asleep with Hillary out there on Pennsylvania Avenue shouting, throwing rocks at the window.” In any case, Obama’s reference to Clinton travelling a lot was true enough; by now she had logged 465,000 miles (748,000 km) in her Boeing 757, more than any other Secretary of State for a comparable period of time, and had visited 79 countries while in the office.Time magazine wrote that “Clinton’s endurance is legendary” and that she would still be going at the end of long work days even as her staff members were glazing out. The key was her ability to fall asleep on demand, at any time and place, for power naps.
Clinton also saw the potential political changes in the Mideast as an opportunity for an even more fundamental change to take place, that being the empowerment of women (something Newsweek magazine saw as Clinton’s categorical imperative). She made remarks to this effect in countries such as Egypt – “If a country doesn’t recognize minority rights and human rights, including women’s rights, you will not have the kind of stability and prosperity that is possible” – as well as in Yemen, where she spoke of the story of the present Nujood Ali and her campaign against forced marriage at a young age. At home, Clinton was even more expansive, looking on a worldwide basis: “I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century. We see women and girls across the world who are oppressed and violated and demeaned and degraded and denied so much of what they are entitled to as our fellow human beings.” She also maintained that the well-being of women in other countries was a direct factor in American self-interest: “This is a big deal for American values and for American foreign policy and our interests, but it is also a big deal for our security. Because where women are disempowered and dehumanized, you are more likely to see not just antidemocratic forces, but extremism that leads to security challenges for us.” She subsequently elaborated upon this theme, saying “A lot of the work I do here in the State Department on women’s or human-rights issues is not just because I care passionately – which I do – but because I see it as [a way] to increase security to fulfill American interests. These are foreign-policy and national-security priorities for me.”
In the midst of this turmoil, which also included Clinton pledging government-level support to Japan in the wake of the devastating 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Clinton reiterated in a mid-March CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer during her post-revolution visit to Cairo’s Tahrir Square that she had no interest in becoming Secretary of Defense or vice president or of running for president again. She also explicitly said for the first time that she did not want to serve a second term as Secretary of State if President Obama is re-elected in 2012. She stressed how much she regarded her current position: “Because I have the best job I could ever have. This is a moment in history where it is almost hard to catch your breath. There are both the tragedies and disasters that we have seen from Haiti to Japan and there are the extraordinary opportunities and challenges that we see right here in Egypt and in the rest of the region.” But reportedly she was weary at times from constant travelling, still not part of Obama’s inner circle, and looking forward to a time of less stress and the chances to write, teach, or work for international women’s rights. She was not bound by her statements, and Blitzer for one suspected she would change her mind. In any case, she remained popular with the American public; her Gallup Poll favorability rating rose to 66 percent (against 31 percent unfavorable), her highest mark ever save for a period during the Lewinsky scandal thirteen years earlier. Her favorability was 10 to 20 percentage points higher than those for Obama, Biden, or Gates, and reflected in part the high ratings that secretaries of state sometimes get.
Throughout early 2011, the CIA thought there was a good chance it had discovered the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, and the White House held a final high-level discussion on April 28 about whether to go ahead with a raid to get him, and if so, what kind of mission to undertake. Clinton supported the option to send Navy SEALs in, believing that the U.S. could not afford to ignore this chance and that getting bin Laden was so important that it outweighed any risks. Following the successful May 1–2, 2011, U.S. mission to kill Osama bin Laden at his hideout compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and the resulting criticism from various Americans that Pakistan had not found, or had let, bin Laden hide in near plain sight, Clinton made a point of praising Pakistan’s past record of helping the U.S. hunt down terrorists: “Our counter-terrorism cooperation over a number of years now, with Pakistan, has contributed greatly to our efforts to dismantle al-Qaeda. And in fact, cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound in which he was hiding. Going forward, we are absolutely committed to continuing that cooperation.” Clinton then played a key role in the administration’s decision not to release photographs of the dead bin Laden, reporting that U.S. allies in the Middle East did not favor the release and agreeing with Secretary Gates that such a release might cause an anti-U.S. backlash overseas.
Clinton continued to poll high, with a September 2011 Bloomberg News poll finding her with a 64 percent favorable rating, the highest of any political figure in the nation. A third of those polls said that Clinton would have been a better president than Obama, but when asked the likelihood she would stage a campaign against the president, she said, “It’s below zero. One of the great things about being secretary of state is I am out of politics. I am not interested in being drawn back into it by anybody.”
Following the October 2011 announcement by Obama that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq would complete by the close of that same year, Clinton forcefully defended the decision as emanating from an agreement originally signed with Iraq under the Bush administration and as evidence that Iraq’s sovereignty was real, and said that despite the absence of military forces, the U.S. was still committed to strengthening Iraq’s democracy with “robust” diplomatic measures. She also praised the effectiveness of Obama’s foreign policy in general, implicitly pushing back on criticism from those running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Clinton specifically pointed to the death of Muammar Gaddafi and the conclusion of the Libyan intervention. She had been active during the final stages of the Libyan rebellion, and via Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, had urged the rebels forces to unify and avoid factional conflicts with each other. She visited Tripoli in October 2011 and, in private, was somewhat guarded about Libya’s future following the rebel success. (A video of her exclaiming “Wow” upon first reading on her BlackBerry of Gaddafi’s capture achieved wide circulation.) Over the next few years, the aftermath of the Libyan Civil War became characterized by instability, two rival governments, and a slide into status as a failed state; it became a refuge for extremists and terrorist groups, such as ISIL, and spurred a massive refugee crisis as immigrants crossed the Mediterranean to southern Europe. The wisdom of the intervention would continue to be debated, with President Obama maintaining that the intervention had been worthwhile but that the United States and Europe underestimated the ongoing effort needed to rebuild Libyan society afterward; former U.S. Representative to NATO Ivo Daalder stating that the limited goals of the intervention had all been met but that the Libyan people had not seized their opportunity to form a better future and that post-intervention military involvement by the West would have been counterproductive; and scholar Alan J. Kuperman (along with some other scholars and human rights groups) writing that the intervention had been based on the faulty notion that Libya had been headed towards humanitarian disaster when in fact it was not and was thus the intervention was “an abject failure, judged even by its own standards”. Kuperman’s view that Gaddafi son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi held promise as a Western-style political reformer was in turn disputed by former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security AffairsDerek Chollet, who stated that such faith was misplaced and that Libyans were resistant to any post-intervention security mechanism and to many rebuilding programs. Clinton said in her 2014 memoir that she had been “worried that the challenges ahead would prove overwhelming for even the most well-meaning transitional leaders. If the new government could consolidate its authority, provide security, use oil revenues to rebuild, disarm the militias, and keep extremists out, then Libya would have a fighting chance at building a stable democracy. If not, then the country would face very difficult challenges translating the hopes of a revolution into a free, secure, and prosperous future.”
Secretary Clinton cancelled a planned trip to the United Kingdom and Turkey to be with her mother, Dorothy Rodham, who died in Washington on November 1, 2011.
In November 2011, Clinton declared, in both a speech at the East–West Center and in an article published in Foreign Policy magazine, that the 21st century would be “America’s Pacific century”. The term played on the notion of the “Pacific Century“. Clinton said, “It is becoming increasingly clear that, in the 21st century, the world’s strategic and economic center of gravity will be the Asia-Pacific, from the Indian subcontinent to western shores of the Americas.” The declaration was part of the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” after the focus of the decade of the 2000s on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
When the 2011–2012 Russian protests had begun in late 2011, in response to the Russian legislative election, 2011, Clinton had been outspoken about the need for legitimate democratic processes there, saying in December 2011: “The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted. And that means they deserve free, fair, transparent elections and leaders who are accountable to them.” She added that “Russian voters deserve a full investigation of electoral fraud and manipulation.” In return, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin denounced Clinton, accusing her of backing Russian protesters financially and in fact precipitating their actions: “They heard this signal and with the support of the U.S. State Department began their active work.” When Putin won the Russian presidential election, 2012 in March 2012, some in the State Department wanted to denounce Russian process again, but they were overruled by the White House, and Clinton stated simply that “The election had a clear winner, and we are ready to work with President-elect Putin.”
Secretary Clinton met with Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on December 2, 2011, as part of her historic visit to that country.
In early December 2011, Clinton made the first visit to Burma by a U.S. secretary of state since John Foster Dulles‘s in 1955, as she met with Burmese leaders as well as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and sought to support the 2011 Burmese democratic reforms. Clinton said that due to the direct and indirect communications she had had with Suu Kyi over the years, “it was like seeing a friend you hadn’t seen for a very long time even though it was our first meeting.” The outreach to Burma attracted both praise and criticism, with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen saying it “sends the wrong signal to the Burmese military thugs” but others saying the visit combined idealism with respect to reform and realpolitik with respect to keeping Burma out of the direct Chinese sphere of influence. Clinton had had to overcome internal administration opposition from the White House and Pentagon, as well as from Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, to make the move, eventually making a personal appeal to Obama and gaining his approval. Regarding whether the Burmese regime would follow up on reform pledges, Clinton said, “I can’t predict what’s going to happen, but I think it certainly is important for the United States to be on the side of democratic reform … This is a first date, not a marriage, and we’ll see where it leads.” She continued to address rights concerns in a December 2011 speech a few days later before the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying that the U.S. would advocate for gay rights abroad and that “Gay rights are human rights” and that “It should never be a crime to be gay.” This itself drew criticism from some American social conservatives.
Secretary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu following their bilateral meeting at the Department of State, February 13, 2012.
In a State Department town hall meeting on January 26, 2012, Clinton indicated her desire to remove herself from “the high wire of American politics” after twenty tiring years of being on it and added, “I have made it clear that I will certainly stay on until the president nominates someone and that transition can occur.” She also indicated that she had not watched any of the 2012 Republican Party presidential debates.
As the Syrian Civil War continued and intensified with the February 2012 bombardment of Homs, the U.S. sought a UN Security Council resolution that backed an Arab League plan that would urge Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to relinquish powers to the vice presidential level and permit a unity government to form. However, Russia and China vetoed the resolution, an action that Clinton characterized as a “travesty”. After the failure of the effort, Clinton warned that Syria could degenerate into “a brutal civil war” and called for a “friends of democratic Syria” group of like-minded nations to promote a peaceful and democratic solution to the situation and pressure Syria accordingly. At a meeting in Tunis of the consequent Friends of Syria Group, Clinton again criticized the actions of Russia and China as “distressing” and “despicable”, and predicted that the Assad regime would meet its end via a military coup. Later, during the summer of 2012, she repeated her criticism of those two countries. At that time, Clinton developed a plan with CIA Director David H. Petraeus to send arms to, and perform training of, vetted groups of Syrian rebels, using the assistance of a neighboring state. The plan also had the support of Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Joint Chiefs chair General Martin E. Dempsey. Reluctant to become entangled in the Syrian situation and in an election campaign, Obama rejected the idea.
Clinton has visited 112 countries during her tenure, the most of any Secretary of State in U.S. history.
In February 2012, a spokesman for Clinton denied again that Clinton wanted the President of the World Bank job, saying, “She has said this is not happening. Her view has not changed.”
At a keynote speech before the International Crisis Group, the secretary brought her view regarding the empowerment of women specifically into the area of peacemaking, saying that women’s multifaceted ties with a community make them more compelled to concern about social and quality of life issues that prosper under peacetime conditions. Furthermore, women identify more with minority groups, being discriminated against themselves. Thus, “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world. It is past time for women to take their rightful place, side by side with men, in the rooms where the fates of peoples, where their children’s and grandchildren’s fates, are decided.” She also continued to believe that empowerment of women would continue to grow as people saw that it would lead to economic growth.
In April 2012, an Internet meme “Texts from Hillary”, hosted on Tumblr and based around a photograph of Clinton sitting on a military plane wearing sunglasses and using a mobile phone, imagined the recipients and contents of her text messages. It became suddenly popular and earned the endorsement of Clinton herself, before being brought to an end by its creators. Obama himself took note of the meme’s popularity, in a humorous exchange that revealed the ease the two now had around one another. Around the same time, a photograph taken during the 6th Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, showed Clinton with a group of colleagues relaxing, drinking Águila beer from a bottle and dancing, at a local nightclub. The episode gained front-page attention from the New York Post and illustrated how Clinton was enjoying the job.  Regarding her ongoing popularity, Clinton said, “There’s a certain consistency to who I am and what I do, and I think people have finally said, ‘Well, you know, I kinda get her now.'” One long-time Washington figure summarized the situation by simply saying, “There’s no coin in criticizing her anymore.” At the same time, her fashion choices gained renewed attention, with her hair grown long and sometimes pulled back with scrunchies. Public commentary on Clinton’s hair was now a tradition across twenty years, but as one female State Department traveller said, “As a chick, it’s a big pain in the butt. The weather is different, and you’re in and out of the plane. [The staff] gets off that plane looking like garbage most days, but she has to look camera ready. She said the reason she grew her hair long was that it’s easier. She has options.” Clinton professed she was past the point of concern on the matter: “I feel so relieved to be at the stage I’m at in my life right now, […] because if I want to wear my glasses, I’m wearing my glasses. If I want to pull my hair back, I’m pulling my hair back.” In any case, Clinton showed a much more relaxed attitude vis a vis the press than in past eras.
A late April/early May 2012 trip to China found Clinton in the middle of a drama involving blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. He had escaped house arrest and, after finding his way to the Embassy of the United States, Beijing, requested an arrangement whereby he could stay in China with guarantees for his safety. After a deal towards that end fell through, he requested a seat on Clinton’s plane when she flew back to the U.S. After further negotiations in parallel with the existing agenda of Clinton’s trip, Chen left for the U.S. after Clinton’s departure. Clinton had negotiated personally with senior Chinese diplomat Dai Bingguo in order to get the deal back in place. Despite an environment that had, as one aide said, “exploded into an absolute circus”, Clinton managed to find a path for the U.S. that kept China from losing face and kept the overall agenda of the meetings intact.
Following the June 2012 killing of high-ranking al Qaeda figure Abu Yahya al-Libi in one of the U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, Clinton defended the action, saying “We will always maintain our right to use force against groups such as al Qaeda that have attacked us and still threaten us with imminent attack. In doing so, we will comply with the applicable law, including the laws of war, and go to extraordinary lengths to ensure precision and avoid the loss of innocent life.” Indeed, beginning with her 2009 trip to Pakistan, Clinton had faced questions about U.S. drone strikes, which she refused to comment much upon at the time. Behind the scenes, Clinton was in fact one of the leading administration proponents of continuing and expanding the strikes there and elsewhere. She did, however, side with U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter in 2011 when he requested more input into, and control over, the U.S. “kill list” selections for that country.
Also in July 2012, Clinton visited Egypt for the first time since Mohammed Morsi became the first democratically elected president of the country. As she arrived in the country, her convoy was met with a protest and had shoes, tomatoes and bottled water thrown at it, although nothing hit either Clinton or her vehicle. Protesters also chanted “Monica, Monica”, in reference to the Lewinsky scandal. She also faced conspiracy theories (in a country that tended towards them) that the U.S. was secretly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.
President Obama and Secretary Clinton honor the Benghazi victims at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base on September 14, 2012.
On September 11, 2012, an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi took place, resulting in the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The next day, Clinton also made a statement describing the perpetrators as “heavily armed militants” and “a small and savage group – not the people or government of Libya.” Clinton also responded to the notion that the attack had been related to the reactions in Egypt and elsewhere to the anti-Islamic online video known as Innocence of Muslims, saying: “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.” She and President Obama appearing together in the White House Rose Garden the same day and vowed to bring the attackers to justice. On September 14 the remains of the slain Americans were returned to the U.S. Obama and Clinton attended the ceremony; in her remarks, Clinton said, “One young woman, her head covered and her eyes haunted with sadness, held up a handwritten sign that said ‘Thugs and killers don’t represent Benghazi nor Islam.'”
The attack, and questions surrounding the U.S. Government’s preparedness for it, and explanations for what had happened afterward, became a political firestorm in the U.S., especially in the context of the ongoing presidential election. The State Department had previously identified embassy and personnel security as a major challenge in its budget and priorities report. On the September 20, Clinton gave a classified briefing to U.S. Senators, which several Republican attendees criticized, angry at the Obama administration’s rebuff of their attempts to learn details of the Benghazi attack, only to see that information published the next day in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She did announce the formation of an Accountability Review Board panel, chaired by longtime diplomat Thomas R. Pickering and vice-chaired by retired Admiral and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, to investigate the attack from the State Department’s viewpoint.
On October 15, regarding the question of preparedness, Clinton said she was accountable: “I take responsibility. I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. … I take this very personally. So we’re going to get to the bottom of it, and then we’re going to do everything we can to work to prevent it from happening again.” Regarding the different explanations afterward for what had happened, she said, “In the wake of an attack like this, in the fog of war, there’s always going to be confusion. And I think it is absolutely fair to say that everyone had the same intelligence. Everyone who spoke tried to give the information that they had. As time has gone on, that information has changed. We’ve gotten more detail, but that’s not surprising. That always happens.”
On November 6, 2012, Obama was re-elected for a second term as president. Clinton said shortly before the election that she would stay on until her successor was confirmed, but that “this is not an open-ended kind of time frame.” Despite her continuing to express a lack of interest, speculation continued about Clinton as a possible candidate in the 2016 presidential election. A poll taken in Iowa, the first state in the nomination process, showed that in a hypothetical 2016 caucuses contest, Clinton would have 58 percent support, with Vice President Biden coming in next at 17 percent.
Later in November, Clinton traveled to Jersusalem, the West Bank, and Cairo, meeting with leaders Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas and Mohamed Morsi respectively, in an effort to stop the 2012 Gaza conflict. On November 21, she participated in a joint appearance with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr to announce that a cease-fire agreement had been reached between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. When the 2012 Egyptian protests against Morsi broke out shortly thereafter, Clinton said that it showed how a dialogue between both sides was immediately needed on how to reshape that nation’s constitution.
In mid-December, Clinton fell victim to a stomach virus contracted on a trip to Europe. She subsequently became very dehydrated and then fainted, suffering a mild concussion. As a result, she cancelled another trip and scratched an appearance at scheduled Congressional hearings on the Benghazi matter. A few conservative figures, including Congressman Allen West and Ambassador to the UN John R. Bolton, accused Clinton of fabricating her illness to avoid testifying, but a State Department spokesperson said that was “completely untrue” and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham denounced the allegations.
On December 19, the Pickering–Mullen Accountability Review Board report on the Benghazi matter was released. It was sharply critical of State Department officials in Washington for ignoring requests for more guards and safety upgrades, and for failing to adapt security procedures to a deteriorating security environment. It explicitly criticized the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs: “Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department … resulted in a special mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.” Four State Department officials were removed from their posts as a consequence, including Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic SecurityEric J. Boswell (who resigned completely), a deputy assistant secretary for embassy security, Charlene R. Lamb, and a deputy assistant secretary for North Africa, Raymond Maxwell. The report did not criticize more senior officials in the department; Pickering said: “We fixed it at the assistant secretary level, which is, in our view, the appropriate place to look, where the decision-making in fact takes place, where, if you like, the rubber hits the road.” Clinton said in a letter to Congress that she accepted the conclusions of the Pickering–Mullen report, and a State Department task force was formed to implement some sixty action items recommended by the report. On December 20, the Deputy Secretary of State, William J. Burns, and the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, Thomas R. Nides, testified in her place before two Congressional committees, and said that many of the report’s recommendations would be in place before year-end. Clinton planned to testify herself in January.
The Benghazi matter also had an effect on Clinton’s successor as Secretary of State. Obama’s first choice was Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, but she came under heavy criticism from Congressional Republicans for what they felt were incorrect or deceptive statements in the aftermath of the attack, and by mid-December she withdrew her name from consideration. Obama then nominated Senator John Kerry for the position instead. By one report, Clinton had preferred Kerry over Rice all along anyway. Although still not well enough to attend the December 21 announcement of Kerry’s nomination, Clinton was described by Obama as being “in good spirits” and, in a statement, praised Kerry as being of the “highest caliber”.
Clinton was scheduled to return to work the week of December 31, but then on December 30 was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital for treatment and observation after a blood clot related to the concussion was discovered. On December 31 it was announced that the clot was behind her ear near her brain, specifically a right transverse sinus venous thrombosis, that she was being treated with anticoagulants, that she had not suffered any neurological damage, and that she was expected to make a full recovery.
Final days of tenure
Secretary Clinton is welcomed back to work at the State Department on January 7, 2013
On January 2, 2013, Clinton was released from the hospital. She returned to work at the State Department on January 7, when co-workers welcomed her back with a standing ovation and a joke gift of a football helmet featuring the department’s seal. It was her first normal public appearance in a month.
Secretary Clinton receives a football jersey with 112, the number of countries she visited during her tenure
The illness did, however, put an end to her days of travel in the job. She finished with 112 countries visited, making her the most widely traveled secretary of state in history. Her total of 956,733 air miles ended up falling short of Condoleezza Rice‘s record for total mileage. That total, 1,059,207, was bolstered late in Rice’s tenure by repeated trips to the Middle East. Clinton traveled during 401 days, with 306 of those spent in actual diplomatic meetings, and spent the equivalent of 87 full days on airplanes. Compared to other recent secretaries, Clinton traveled more broadly, with fewer repeat visits to certain countries.
Secretary Clinton gives her farewell remarks to State Department employees on her last day in office, February 1, 2013
On January 23, Clinton finally gave more than five hours of testimony on the Benghazi matter before hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She said with a choking voice, “For me, this is not just a matter of policy, it’s personal. I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters.” She again accepted formal responsibility for the departmental security lapses that led to the attack and deaths, but in explanation did not accept personal blame for them. She said, “I feel responsible for the nearly 70,000 people who work for the State Department. But the specific security requests pertaining to Benghazi, you know, were handled by the security professionals in the department. I didn’t see those requests. They didn’t come to me. I didn’t approve them. I didn’t deny them.” She did acknowledge that she had supported keeping the Benghazi consulate open after an earlier debate about its deteriorating security, but said she had assumed the security personnel involved would address any issues with it.
Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican associated with the Tea Party movement, questioned her repeatedly on a different aspect, whether Ambassador to the UN Rice had misled the public after the attacks. This line drew the fieriest response from Clinton, who with voice raised and fists shaking, responded, “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator.” Other Republicans also attacked Clinton, with Representative Jeff Duncan accusing her of “national security malpractice” and Senator Rand Paul saying that the president should have dismissed her from her job for having failed to read security-related cables coming into the State Department (she had said there are over a million cables that come into the department and they are all formally addressed to her). Senator John McCain said that while “It’s wonderful to see you in good health and as combative as ever”, he was unsatisfied with her answers.
Clinton also took the opportunity to address the ongoing conflict in Mali and the rest of Northern Africa, saying “this Pandora’s Box if you will” of side effects from the Arab Spring had opened a new security challenge for the U.S. Specifically, she said “we cannot permit northern Mali to become a safe haven.”
The next day, January 24, Clinton introduced John Kerry before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as hearings were held on his nomination to succeed her. She called him “the right choice to carry forward the Obama Administration’s foreign policy”, and called out his testimony before the same committee in 1971 in opposition to the Vietnam War as “speaking hard truths about a war that had gone badly off track.”
At both public appearances, as well as at the second inauguration of Barack Obama, Clinton wore glasses (instead of her usual contact lens), which upon closer examination were seen to have Fresnel prisms attached to them, likely to counteract lingering blurred or double vision from her concussion. Use of special glasses was confirmed by the State Department, which said, “She’ll be wearing these glasses instead of her contacts for a period of time because of lingering issues stemming from her concussion.”
On January 27, 60 Minutes aired a joint interview with Obama and Clinton. The interview was Obama’s idea and was the first he had done with a member of his administration. In it, Obama consistently praised Clinton’s performance in the position, saying “I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest secretary of states we’ve had.” Both said the relationship between them had been very comfortable, and that getting past their 2008 primary campaign battles had not been difficult for them personally. Regarding her health, Clinton said, “I still have some lingering effects from falling on my head and having the blood clot. But the doctors tell me that will all recede. And so, thankfully, I’m looking forward to being at full speed.”
On January 29, Clinton held a global and final town hall meeting, the 59th of her tenure. Also on January 29, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Kerry’s nomination unanimously and the full Senate confirmed the nomination by a 94–3 vote. In her final public speech, on January 31 before the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton returned to the themes of “smart power”. She suggested that a new architecture was needed for relations within the world, giving an analogy of Frank Gehry compared to ancient Greek architecture: “Some of his work at first might appear haphazard, but in fact, it’s highly intentional and sophisticated. Where once a few strong columns could hold up the weight of the world, today we need a dynamic mix of materials and structures.” She added, echoing Madeleine Albright, “… we are truly the indispensable nation, it’s not meant as a boast or an empty slogan. It’s a recognition of our role and our responsibilities. That’s why all the declinists are dead wrong. It’s why the United States must and will continue to lead in this century even as we lead in new ways.”
Clinton’s final day as secretary was February 1, 2013, when she met with Obama to hand in her letter of resignation and later gave farewell remarks in a meeting with employees at State Department headquarters.
Overall themes and legacy
While Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State was popular at the time among the public and praised by President Obama, observers have noted that there was no signature diplomatic breakthrough during it nor any transformative domination of major issues in the nature of Dean Acheson, George Marshall, or Henry Kissinger. The intractable issues when she entered office, such as Iran, Pakistan, Arab-Israeli relations, and North Korea, were still that way when she left. Many of Clinton’s initiatives in the “smart power” realm will take much more time to evaluate as to their effect.Aaron David Miller, a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said that “She’s coming away with a stellar reputation that seems to have put her almost above criticism. But you can’t say that she’s really led on any of the big issues for this administration or made a major mark on high strategy.”Michael E. O’Hanlon, a Brookings Institution analyst, said that, “Even an admirer, such as myself, must acknowledge that few big problems were solved on her watch, few victories achieved. [She has been] more solid than spectacular.” Others have been more highly critical of her tenure as Secretary; in a 2015 book entitled Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America, former Vice PresidentDick Cheney and his daughter, Liz Cheney argue that Clinton’s tenure, and the Obama administration‘s foreign policy generally, weakened U.S. standing in its international relations and deviated sharply from 70 years of well-established, bipartisan U.S. foreign and defense policy that the United States had generally adhered to since World War II. Others, however, such as Eric Schmidt disagree, and have argued that Clinton was “perhaps the most significant secretary of state since” Acheson. All agreed on her celebrity; as one unnamed official said, “She’s the first secretary who’s also been a global rock star. It’s allowed her to raise issues on the global agenda in a way that no one before her has been able to do.”
Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama discuss matters in 2009, at a picnic table on the grounds of the White House
The divisions between Obama and Clinton that many observers had originally predicted, never happened. Indeed, a writer for The New York Times Magazine declared that “Obama and Clinton have instead led the least discordant national-security team in decades, despite enormous challenges on almost every front.” In part, this was because Obama and Clinton both approached foreign policy as a largely non-ideological, pragmatic exercise. Nevertheless, there were limitations to her influence: Much of the handling of the Middle East, Iraq, and Iran was done by the White House or Pentagon during her tenure, and on some other issues as well, policy-making was kept inside the White House among Obama’s inner circle of advisors. There were also differences of opinion. Clinton failed to persuade Obama to arm and train Syrian rebels in 2012, but overcame initial opposition to gain approval of her visit to Burma in 2011. Clinton’s initial idea of having special envoys under her handling key trouble spots fell apart due to various circumstances. Clinton did find bureaucratic success in edging out the U.S. Commerce Department, by having the State Department take a lead role in sales pitches in favor of U.S. companies. In doing so, she helped negotiate international deals for the likes of Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Westinghouse Electric Company. Clinton believed, more than most prior secretaries, that the commercial aspects of diplomacy and the promotion of international trade were vital to American foreign policy goals.
Obama later referred to the Libya intervention when questioned about his worst mistake. Obama asserted that he had been reluctant to intervene but that intervention had been championed by Clinton and Susan Rice. Obama cited the lack of preparation the Administration had made for a post-Gaddafi Libya, lack of followup by European countries and greater-than-expected intertribal divisions in Libya.  However, Clinton’s stance is that the intervention was beneficial because it avoided another Syria-like scenario.
Clinton’s background as an elected politician showed in her touch for dealing with people, in remembering personal connections, in visiting State Department staff when overseas, and in sympathizing with the dilemmas of elected foreign leaders. At least until the Benghazi matter, she retained personal support among a number of Republicans; in mid-2012, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said, “I think she’s represented our nation well. She is extremely well respected throughout the world, handles herself in a very classy way and has a work ethic second to none.”
Especially in the Mideast turmoil but elsewhere as well, Clinton saw an opportunity to advance one of the central themes of her tenure, the empowerment and welfare of women and girls worldwide. Moreover, she viewed women’s rights and human rights as critical for U.S. security interests, as part of what has become known as the “Hillary Doctrine“. Former State Department director and coordinator Theresa Loar said in 2011 that, “I honestly think Hillary Clinton wakes up every day thinking about how to improve the lives of women and girls. And I don’t know another world leader who is doing that.” In turn, there was a trend of women around the world finding more opportunities, and in some cases feeling safer, as the result of her actions and visibility.
A mid-2012 Pew Research study of public opinions found that Clinton was viewed positively in Japan and most European countries in terms of people having confidence that she would do the right thing in world affairs. She received mixed marks in China, Russia, and some Central and South American countries, and low marks in Muslim countries, on this question. Overall, Clinton’s attempts to improve the image of America in Muslim countries did not find any immediate success due to many factors, including the unpopularity of drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere. Perceptions of the U.S. in those countries declined during her tenure according to a Pew Research, which found that only 15 percent of Muslims had a favorable impression of the U.S. in 2012, compared to 25 percent in 2009. Specifically in Pakistan, only 12 percent of Pakistanis had a favorable impression of the U.S. in 2012, compared to 16 percent in 2009, and only 3 percent had confidence in Clinton compared to 37 percent not.
The first secretary of state to visit countries such as Togo and East Timor, Clinton believed that in-person visits were more important than ever in the digital age. As she said in remarks shortly before leaving office, “I have found it highly ironic that, in today’s world, when we can be anywhere virtually, more than ever people want us to show up, actually. Somebody said to me the other day, ‘I look at your travel schedule. Why Togo? Why the Cook Islands?’ No secretary of state had ever been to Togo before. Togo happens to be on the U.N. Security Council. Going there, making the personal investment, has a real strategic purpose.”
Financial accounting, document requests, Clinton Foundation
According to the Office of the Inspector General report made in 2014, the State Department’s records failed to properly account for some $6 billion in contracts over the prior six years, including around $2 billion for the department’s mission in Iraq. The report said, “The failure to maintain contract files adequately creates significant financial risk and demonstrates a lack of internal control over the Department’s contract actions,” and added that investigators and auditors had found “repeated examples of poor contract file administration” which it had characterized as having been one of the department’s “major management challenges” for several years.
The ethics agreement between the State Department and Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation that was put into force at the beginning of the secretary’s tenure came under scrutiny from the news media during early 2015. A Wall Street Journal report found that the Clinton Foundation had resumed accepting donations from foreign governments once Secretary Clinton’s tenure had ended. A Washington Post inquiry into donations by foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation during the secretary’s tenure found a six cases where such governments continued making donations at the same level they had before Clinton became secretary, which was permissible under the agreement, and also one instance of a new donation, $500,000 from Algeria in January 2010 for earthquake relief in Haiti, that was outside the bounds of the continuation provision and should have received a special ethics review but did not. The Post noted that the donation “coincided with a spike” in lobbying efforts by Algeria of the State Department regarding their human rights record but that during 2010 and 2011 the Department still issued human rights reports critical of Algeria’s restrictions on freedom of assembly, women’s rights and labor rights that also pointed to instances of extrajudicial killings, corruption, and lack of transparency in the government. A Politico analysis of State Department documents found that the department approved virtually all of Bill Clinton’s proposed speaking engagements, even when they lacked sufficient information about the valuation of those talks or links between them and possible subsequent donations to the Clinton Foundation.
From 2009 to 2013, the Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom acquired Uranium One, a Canadian company with global uranium mining stakes including 20 percent of the uranium production capacity in the United States. The strategically sensitive acquisition required the approval of the Canadian government as well as a number of U.S. governmental bodies including the State Department. In April 2015, the New York Times reported that, during the acquisition, the family foundation of Uranium One’s chairman made $2.35 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation. Also during this time, Bill Clinton received a $500,000 payment from Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank whose analysts were praising Uranium One stock, for making speech in Moscow. The Foundation donations were not publicly disclosed by the Clinton Foundation or the State Department, despite a prior agreement to do so, in part due to taking advantage of the donations going through a Canadian affiliate of the Foundation. A FactCheck.org analysis stated that while the reports raised “legitimate questions about the Clinton Foundation and its donations,” the reports “presented no evidence that the donations influenced Clinton’s official actions.” Asked about the issue in June 2015, the former secretary said of the State Department’s role in the approval, “There were nine government agencies that that had to sign off on that deal. I was not personally involved because that’s not something [the] Secretary of State did.”
In early March 2015, a New York Times report revealed that throughout her time as Secretary of State, Clinton used her own private email server, rather than government-issued departmental ones Further investigation revealed that the day of her first Senate hearing to become Secretary of State, Clinton, or an associate, purchased a private email server under the pseudonym “Eric Hoteham”. The server was set up in her home in Chappaqua, New York. The matter gained widespread public attention due to concerns about the security of the mails she sent and received and whether they were exposed to hacking and surveillance; the availability and preservation of the mails for Freedom of Information Act requests and the archival historical record; and whether her action had violated any federal laws, regulations, or guidelines. Also in question was whether the use of the private email server violated State Department transparency protocols.
In response to the attention, Clinton said she had in December 2014 turned over 55,000 pages of e-mails to the State Department following their request and that she now wanted them made public. These 55,000 printed pages accounted for 30,490, or slightly less than half, of the 62,320 emails that Clinton had sent or received on her private email account during her time as secretary. At a press conference Clinton said she had set up the separate server as a matter of convenience so that she could carry one device and not two, but that in retrospect “it would have been better if I’d simply used a second email account and carried a second phone”. She said that she had sent mails to State Department employees on their government accounts, ensuring such mails would be preserved, but it then turned out that the department did not automatically or routinely save such mails. After the revelations, questions were raised about whether Clinton, when she resigned in February 2013, had signed Form OF-109, a standard document declaring that she had turned over all work-related records. After searching, the State Department said it had “no record” that Clinton had signed the form, were “fairly certain” that she had not, and that it appeared neither of her two immediate predecessors as secretary had either. According to the text of the form, it warns individuals signing it that falsification is subject to criminal penalties under Section 1001 of Title 18.
A portion of the emails on Clinton’s private server were emails sent in 2011 and 2012 by Sidney Blumenthal, a political supporter and campaign staffer who worked for the Clinton Foundation. Blumenthal prepared, from public and other sources, about 25 memos which he sent to Clinton during 2011 and 2012 which she shared through her aide, Jake Sullivan, with senior State Department personnel. In the form of intelligence briefings, the memos sometimes touted his business associates and, at times contained inaccurate information.
In August 2015, it was reported that Clinton had personally paid a State Department staffer, Bryan Pagliano, who had previously served as IT director for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, to maintain her private server while she was Secretary of State. According to a Clinton campaign official, this ensured that taxpayer dollars would not be spent on a private server that was shared by Clinton, her husband and their daughter, as well as several aides to the former president. On September 1, 2015, Pagliano’s attorney sent letters to the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which had subpoenaed Pagliano, and to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was inquiring about Pagliano’s outside employment while a Federal employee, informing the committees that his client would invoke his constitutional Fifth Amendment rights not to answer any questions from the committees, and on September 10, in a closed-door session before the Benghazi Committee, Pagliano personally appeared to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify before the committee.
Potential mis-handling of classified information
On July 23, 2015, The New York Times reported the existence of a June 2015, memorandum to the Justice Department from the Inspectors General of the Intelligence Community and the State Department regarding the presence of classified government information in emails from the personal email account Hillary Clinton used as Secretary of State. A transmittal memorandum, written by State Dept. official Patrick F. Kennedy, said that, based on an assessment of a small sample of the contents of Mrs. Clinton’s private account by the two Inspectors General, it was likely that the entire body of emails contained hundreds of instances of classified information. In their joint statement, the inspectors general said that classified information in the emails had originated from U.S. intelligence agencies, such as the CIA and the NSA, and that it is illegal anyone to receive a classified document, or briefing, and then summarize or otherwise transmit that information in an unclassified email.
Clinton and her campaign have reiterated that the information transmitted was not classified “at the time”, but the inspectors general, as well as reporting by the New York Times and others, said that it, in fact, was classified at the time. Information is considered classified if its disclosure would likely harm national security, and government procedures and protocols require that such information be sent or stored only on government computer networks with government safeguards.
Knowing Narcissism. Crucial Information about Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Trump, Clinton – Narcissists? “Experts” Spew NONSENSE!
Sam Vaknin Analyzes Barack Obama (Part 1)
Sam Vaknin Analyzes Barack Obama (Part 2)
Sam Vaknin Analyzes Barack Obama (Part 3)
Sam Vaknin Analyzes Barack Obama (Part 4)
The One Question You Need To Determine If A Narcissist Is A Narcissist
‘Grave Concerns’ About Donald Trump’s Mental Stability Harvard Doctors
TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME: & why we need a 3 STRIKE RULE for Journalists
The Electoral College votes to ratify Trump’s win
Hillary’s loss a very bitter pill for Bill?
UPDATE: The Electoral College votes to ratify Trump’s win
Steve Forbes: The Electoral College won’t reverse Trump win
ELECTORAL COLLEGE: ASTONISHING NUMBER WILL SWITCH FROM TRUMP
Can The Electoral College Stop Donald Trump?
Michigan elector speaks out against pressure to reject Trump
Adam Ruins Everything – Why the Electoral College Ruins Democracy
Adam Ruins Everything – Why Rigging Elections Is Completely Legal
The Trouble with the Electoral College
Does your vote count? The Electoral College explained – Christina Greer
Final tally shows Trump lost popular vote by 2.8 million – but he BEAT Clinton by 3 million votes outside of California and New York
Clinton won California by 4.2 million votes and New York by 1.6 million, running up the score in places where she would have won no matter what
Outside of those two liberal states, Trump was 3 million votes ahead
California alone accounted for more than Clinton’s national popular-vote edge
Newt Gingrich mocked: ‘This is football season. A team can have more yards and lose the game. What matters is how many points you put on the board’
By David Martosko, Us Political Editor For Dailymail.com
PUBLISHED: 09:01 EST, 21 December 2016 | UPDATED: 14:17 EST, 21 December 2016
Final vote tallies from the November 8 election show that Democrat Hillary Clinton out-polled President-elect Donald Trump by 2.8 million votes while losing the contest by a wide margin in the all-important Electoral College.
Her upper hand with voters, however, came down to performances in New York and California that were far stronger than necessary.
Clinton won California by 4.2 million and took New York by more than 1.6 million. The combined 5.8 million-vote advantage in just those two states was more than twice the size of her overall edge nationwide.
When the dust settled, she lost the rest of the country by 3 million votes.
BIG WIN: Donald Trump won the presidency with broad support of a majority of states in the all-important Electoral College that actually selects America’s president and vice president
SMALL COMFORT: Hillary Clinton collected more votes than Trump but did it by running up the score in California and New York, two very liberal states that were virtually guaranteed to her
Trump tweeted, deleted and replaced a message Wednesday morning suggesting that the Electoral College system presents more difficult challenges than an election that relies only on raw vote totals.
‘Campaigning for votes under the Electoral College system is much more difficult, and different, than the popular vote,’ he wrote on Twitter at first.
That message disappeared almost immediately, and Trump replaced it 20 minutes later with a more aggressive tweet including a direct shot at Clinton.
‘Campaigning to win the Electoral College is much more difficult & sophisticated than the popular vote. Hillary focused on the wrong states!’ he wrote in the replacement tweet.
Trump wrote in a followup message that ‘I would have done even better in the election, if that is possible, if the winner was based on popular vote – but would campaign differently.’
Then he added: ‘I have not heard any of the pundits or commentators discussing the fact that I spent FAR LESS MONEY on the win than Hillary on the loss!’
Arizona protesters urged Trump to divest his business
SORE LOSERS: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Wednesday morning blasted liberals who insist Trump’s victory is illegitimate because more Americans voted for Clinton
BEFORE AND AFTER: Trump tweeted (top), deleted and then replaced (bottom) a message about raw vote totals and the Electoral College on Wednesday morning
Trump ended Election Night controlling 306 votes in the Electoral College, a number that slipped to 304 when presidential electors cast their ballots on Monday. Clinton had 232, but lost five turncoats for a total of 227.
Clinton would still have won California’s 55 electoral votes if her margin there had been far smaller. The same is true of New York’s 29 electoral votes.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Wednesday morning blasted liberals who insist Trump’s victory is illegitimate because more Americans voted for Clinton.
‘This is football season. A team can have more yards and lose the game. What matters is how many points you put on the board. The Electoral College is the points,’ he said on ‘Fox & Friends.’
‘Trump actually carried – in the 49 states outside of California, he had a 1.2 million vote majority. He got killed in California because he never campaigned there,’ Gingrich said.
‘The Democrats had two people running for the U.S. Senate the way California law works, no Republican running for the U.S. Senate. So we got beaten in the biggest state. It didn’t matter. That’s not how you pick the presidency. Trump’s now going to be president. She’s not going to be president. That’s called winning the game.’
He said some Democrats are ‘not going to get used to the idea’ of a President Trump ‘because he is, from their standpoint, horrifying. … They live in a delusional world. That’s why they lost the election: They decided to stay with the delusion.’
Donald J. Trump was confirmed as president-elect today by members of the Electoral College, winning at least 304 electoral votes. Texas put Trump over the top as it cast its vote after 5PM ET today. 304 is likely to be Trump’s final number, as the three states yet to vote – California, Nevada and Hawaii – were won by Hillary Clinton on Election Day. Should those electors all vote as pledged, Clinton will end up with 228 votes.
In the end, there wasn’t a lot of drama in the vote. There were 6 faithless electors, however, including 4 in Washington and two in Texas. While a small number, this is the highest number of faithless electors for president since the 19th century. There were attempts by electors in Colorado, Maine and Minnesota to cast faithless votes, but these were disallowed.
Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president at noon on January 20, 2017.
The Electoral College has officially cast enough votes to make Donald Trump president
Updated by Andrew Prokop Dec 19, 2016, 5:38pm EST
Donald Trump has topped the 270 electoral votes he needs to become president, dashing some liberals’ dreams of a last-minute Electoral College revolt that would block him from the office.
Indeed, the overwhelming majority of electors from states Trump won last month did in fact cast their electoral votes for him, as they were expected to, according to reports from the various state capitals that have been trickling in throughout the day.
Trump will end up with 304 electoral votes, well over the 270 he needs. Only two Trump electors defected from him, with one voting for John Kasich and the other for Ron Paul.
Hillary Clinton ended up losing more electors. Though not all the electoral votes from Clinton states have been counted yet, four of Washington state’s 12 Democratic electors refused to vote for her. Instead, three voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell and one for Faith Spotted Eagle, an activist involved in protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Three other electors attempted to defect from Clinton in other states, but two were replaced by alternates, with the other changing his mind on a revote:
In Minnesota, Sanders-supporting Democratic elector Muhammad Abdurrahmanreportedly refused to cast a vote, so according to state law, he was replaced with an alternate who did vote for Clinton.
In Maine, Democratic elector David Bright voted for Bernie Sanders at first, but his vote was ruled out of order, and he switched it to Clinton during a revote.
In Colorado, Democratic elector Michael Baca attempted to cast his vote for John Kasich (as part of the failed scheme to convince Trump electors to back a moderate Republican), but he was dismissed and replaced by an alternate, who voted for Clinton.
Theoretically, legal challenges could be launched related to some of these electoral votes, since the constitutionality of state laws binding electors has never truly been tested in the courts. But at least for the time being, they’re set to count for Clinton.
Overall, though, these will all be irrelevant to the outcome, since Trump will end up with quite a bit more than the majority of electoral votes he needs to officially win the presidency.
The system worked as expected, but serious weaknesses remain
In any normal recent year, this would barely need to be clarified. For nearly two centuries, the Electoral College has been an anachronistic formality that exists primarily to ratify the results of votes cast by the citizens of various states.
But it has long been at least theoretically possible for electors to go rogue. Before Monday, nine electors in the past century had in fact done so, defying the results of their states. Usually, they did so as some sort of protest (though in one case, it seemingly happened by accident).
And it does seem that in a truly close Electoral College vote, our presidential election system might really be vulnerable to some mischief from electors. This outcome drives that home, with a number of faithless electors that’s a record for the modern era.
Still, as I’ve been writing for weeks, an outcome-changing elector revolt was incredibly unlikely to happen this year, for several reasons. Trump’s margin of victory in electoral votes was simply too big. Many states have laws “binding” electors to the results of the statewide vote. And the Trump-supporting electors are generally picked by the state Republican parties or are conservative activists, and are therefore unlikely to defy the will of the GOP.
Now, technically, the votes cast in state capitals all across the country still have to officially be counted by the new Congress on January 6, 2017. But since the vote totals are all made public today, that will be a formality — Donald Trump has won.
Donald Trump has topped the 270 electoral votes he needs to become president, dashing some liberals’ dreams of a last-minute Electoral College revolt that would block him from the office.
Indeed, the overwhelming majority of electors from states Trump won last month did in fact cast their electoral votes for him, as they were expected to, according to reports from the various state capitals that have been trickling in throughout the day.
Trump will end up with 304 electoral votes, well over the 270 he needs. Only two Trump electors defected from him, with one voting for John Kasich and the other for Ron Paul.
Hillary Clinton ended up losing more electors. Though not all the electoral votes from Clinton states have been counted yet, four of Washington state’s 12 Democratic electors refused to vote for her. Instead, three voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell and one for Faith Spotted Eagle, an activist involved in protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Three other electors attempted to defect from Clinton in other states, but two were replaced by alternates, with the other changing his mind on a revote:
In Minnesota, Sanders-supporting Democratic elector Muhammad Abdurrahmanreportedly refused to cast a vote, so according to state law, he was replaced with an alternate who did vote for Clinton.
In Maine, Democratic elector David Bright voted for Bernie Sanders at first, but his vote was ruled out of order, and he switched it to Clinton during a revote.
In Colorado, Democratic elector Michael Baca attempted to cast his vote for John Kasich (as part of the failed scheme to convince Trump electors to back a moderate Republican), but he was dismissed and replaced by an alternate, who voted for Clinton.
Theoretically, legal challenges could be launched related to some of these electoral votes, since the constitutionality of state laws binding electors has never truly been tested in the courts. But at least for the time being, they’re set to count for Clinton.
Overall, though, these will all be irrelevant to the outcome, since Trump will end up with quite a bit more than the majority of electoral votes he needs to officially win the presidency.
Electoral College Deals Hillary Clinton, Big Media Final Embarrassment
Hillary Clinton conceding the the 2016 presidential race to Donald Trump in New York City on November 9, 2016. (Photo: Video Screenshot)
The Electoral College dealt Big Media and Democrat Hillary Clinton one more final embarrassment. With nearly all the Electoral College votes cast, the former secretary of state set a 104-year record for the candidate with the most faithless electors. If you fell for the Big Media hysteria, then you might be surprised to hear faithless electors are actually pretty common.
(UPDATE: Since this article was first written, Mrs. Clinton got another faithless elector in the state of Hawaii. Her total now stands at 5.)
For all the headlines focusing on one faithless elector in Texas who turned out to be a complete fraud, it would really surprise you to hear that Mrs. Clinton not only lost more electors than President-elect Donald J. Trump, but the most of any candidate in over 100 years.
In what was a shocking development to Big Media, 4 Democratic electors in Washington State voted for someone other than Mrs. Clinton. The total was 3 for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, while the remaining one voted for Faith Spotted Eagle. Mrs. Clinton only secured 8 of the state’s total 12 Electoral College votes. That wasn’t the end to her troubles, either.
Not since 1912–when 8 Republican electors defected and voted for Nicholas Murray Butler instead of Vice Presidential candidate James S. Sherman, who died before the election–has anyone lost more electors than Mrs. Clinton. Sherman was President William Howard Taft’s vice president and they were both running for re-election.
Not since 1896, when two parties, the Democratic Party and the People’s Party, ran William Jennings Bryan as their presidential candidate has a candidate lost as many electors in the Electoral College as Mrs. Clinton did in 2016.
And that was a very special circumstance. In Bryan, the two parties shared a presidential candidate. But they nominated different candidates for vice president. The Democratic Party nominated Arthur Sewall and the People’s Party nominated Thomas Watson. The People’s Party won 31 electoral votes but four of those electors voted with the Democratic ticket, supporting Bryan as president and Sewall as vice president.
In total, there have been 157 faithless electors since the founding of the Electoral College, of which 71 were the result of the candidate dying before the day electors cast their votes. Only 3 electors abstained rather than vote for their party’s nominee and 83 electoral votes were changed based on the elector’s personal choice.
It could’ve been even worse for Mrs. Clinton.
In Minnesota, the Electoral College per state rules replaced an elector who refused to vote for her. In Maine, which was set to split it’s electoral votes for the first time ever after President-elect Trump won the Second Congressional District, Democratic elector David Bright cast his first vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders. He switched his vote back on a second round of voting.
It’s a fitting end to a presidential election in which the media coverage was so divorced from reality PPD readers and millions of other Americans sometimes felt like they were in the Twilight Zone. Judging by the hysterical and factually inaccurate coverage of his transition, I don’t expect it will end.
Section 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;–The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice…. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President to the United States.
Section 3. No person shall be… elector of President and Vice President … who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
Section 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
Section 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
Section 4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
Section 1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:
A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. There upon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
UNITED STATES CODE
The following provisions of law governing Presidential Elections are contained in Chapter 1 of Title 3, United States Code (62 Stat. 672, as amended):
§ 1. The electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in each State, on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, in every fourth year succeeding every election of a President and Vice President.
Failure to make choice on prescribed day
§ 2. Whenever any State has held an election for the purpose of choosing electors, and has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct.
Number of electors
§ 3. The number of electors shall be equal to the number of Senators and Representatives to which the several States are by law entitled at the time when the President and Vice President to be chosen come into office; except, that where no apportionment of Representatives has been made after any enumeration, at the time of choosing electors, the number of electors shall be according to the then existing apportionment of Senators and Representatives.
Vacancies in electoral college
§ 4. Each State may, by law, provide for the filling of any vacancies which may occur in its college of electors when such college meets to give its electoral vote.
Determination of controversy as to appointment of electors
§ 5. If any State shall have provided, by laws enacted prior to the day fixed for the appointment of the electors, for its final determination of any controversy or contest concerning the appointment of all or any of the electors of such State, by judicial or other methods or procedures, and such determination shall have been made at least six days before the time fixed for the meeting of the electors, such determination made pursuant to such law so existing on said day, and made at least six days prior to said time of meeting of the electors, shall be conclusive, and shall govern in the counting of the electoral votes as provided in the Constitution, and as hereinafter regulated, so far as the ascertainment of the electors appointed by such State is concerned.
Credentials of electors; transmission to archivist of the united states and to congress; public inspection
§ 6. It shall be the duty of the executive of each State, as soon as practicable after the conclusion of the appointment of the electors in such State by the final ascertainment, under and in pursuance of the laws of such State providing for such ascertainment, to communicate by registered mail under the seal of the State to the Archivist of the United States a certificate of such ascertainment of the electors appointed, setting forth the names of such electors and the canvass or other ascertainment under the laws of such State of the number of votes given or cast for each person for whose appointment any and all votes have been given or cast; and it shall also thereupon be the duty of the executive of each State to deliver to the electors of such State, on or before the day on which they are required by section 7 of this title to meet, six duplicate-originals of the same certificate under the seal of the State; and if there shall have been any final determination in a State in the manner provided for by law of a controversy or contest concerning the appointment of all or any of the electors of such State, it shall be the duty of the executive of such State, as soon as practicable after such determination, to communicate under the seal of the State to the Archivist of the United States a certificate of such determination in form and manner as the same shall have been made; and the certificate or certificates so received by the Archivist of the United States shall be preserved by him for one year and shall be a part of the public records of his office and shall be open to public inspection; and the Archivist of the United States at the first meeting of Congress thereafter shall transmit to the two Houses of Congress copies in full of each and every such certificate so received at the National Archives and Records Administration.
Meeting and vote of electors
§ 7. The electors of President and Vice President of each State shall meet and give their votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December next following their appointment at such place in each State as the legislature of such State shall direct.
Manner of voting
§ 8. The electors shall vote for President and Vice President, respectively, in the manner directed by the Constitution.
Certificates of votes for president and vice president
§ 9. The electors shall make and sign six certificates of all the votes given by them, each of which certificates shall contain two distinct lists, one of the votes for President and the other of the votes for Vice President, and shall annex to each of the certificates one of the lists of the electors which shall have been furnished to them by direction of the executive of the State.
Sealing and endorsing certificates
§ 10. The electors shall seal up the certificates so made by them, and certify upon each that the lists of all the votes of such State given for President, and of all the votes given for Vice President, are contained therein.
§ 11. The electors shall dispose of the certificates so made by them and the lists attached thereto in the following manner:
First. They shall forthwith forward by registered mail one of the same to the President of the Senate at the seat of government.
Second. Two of the same shall be delivered to the secretary of state of the State, one of which shall be held subject to the order of the President of the Senate, the other to be preserved by him for one year and shall be a part of the public records of his office and shall be open to public inspection.
Third. On the day thereafter they shall forward by registered mail two of such certificates and lists to the Archivist of the United States at the seat of government, one of which shall be held subject to the order of the President of the Senate. The other shall be preserved by the Archivist of the United States for one year and shall be a part of the public records of his office and shall be open to public inspection.
Fourth. They shall forthwith cause the other of the certificates and lists to be delivered to the judge of the district in which the electors shall have assembled.
Failure of certificates of electors to reach president of the senate or archivist of the United States; demand on state for certificate
§ 12. When no certificate of vote and list mentioned in sections 9 and 11 and of this title from any State shall have been received by the President of the Senate or by the Archivist of the United States by the fourth Wednesday in December, after the meeting of the electors shall have been held, the President of the Senate or, if he be absent from the seat of government, the Archivist of the United States shall request, by the most expeditious method available, the secretary of state of the State to send up the certificate and list lodged with him by the electors of such State; and it shall be his duty upon receipt of such request immediately to transmit same by registered mail to the President of the Senate at the seat of government.
Same; demand on district judge for certificate
§ 13. When no certificates of votes from any State shall have been received at the seat of government on the fourth Wednesday in December, after the meeting of the electors shall have been held, the President of the Senate or, if he be absent from the seat of government, the Archivist of the United States shall send a special messenger to the district judge in whose custody one certificate of votes from that State has been lodged, and such judge shall forthwith transmit that list by the hand of such messenger to the seat of government.
Forfeiture for messenger’s neglect of duty
§ 14. Every person who, having been appointed, pursuant to section 13 of this title, to deliver the certificates of the votes of the electors to the President of the Senate, and having accepted such appointment, shall neglect to perform the services required from him, shall forfeit the sum of $1,000.
Counting electoral votes in congress
§ 15. Congress shall be in session on the sixth day of January succeeding every meeting of the electors. The Senate and House of Representatives shall meet in the Hall of the House of Representatives at the hour of 1 o’clock in the afternoon on that day, and the President of the Senate shall be their presiding officer. Two tellers shall be previously appointed on the part of the Senate and two on the part of the House of Representatives, to whom shall be handed, as they are opened by the President of the Senate, all the certificates and papers purporting to be certificates of the electoral votes, which certificates and papers shall be opened, presented, and acted upon in the alphabetical order of the States, beginning with the letter A; and said tellers, having then read the same in the presence and hearing of the two Houses, shall make a list of the votes as they shall appear from the said certificates; and the votes having been ascertained and counted according to the rules in this subchapter provided, the result of the same shall be delivered to the President of the Senate, who shall thereupon announce the state of the vote, which announcement shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons, if any, elected President and Vice President of the United States, and, together with a list of the votes, be entered on the Journals of the two Houses. Upon such reading of any such certificate or paper, the President of the Senate shall call for objections, if any. Every objection shall be made in writing, and shall state clearly and concisely, and without argument, the ground thereof, and shall be signed by at least one Senator and one Member of the House of Representatives before the same shall be received. When all objections so made to any vote or paper from a State shall have been received and read, the Senate shall thereupon withdraw, and such objections shall be submitted to the Senate for its decision; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall, in like manner, submit such objections to the House of Representatives for its decision; and no electoral vote or votes from any State which shall have been regularly given by electors whose appointment has been lawfully certified to according to section 6 of this title from which but one return has been received shall be rejected, but the two Houses concurrently may reject the vote or votes when they agree that such vote or votes have not been so regularly given by electors whose appointment has been so certified. If more than one return or paper purporting to be a return from a State shall have been received by the President of the Senate, those votes, and those only, shall be counted which shall have been regularly given by the electors who are shown by the determination mentioned in section 5 of this title to have been appointed, if the determination in said section provided for shall have been made, or by such successors or substitutes, in case of a vacancy in the board of electors so ascertained, as have been appointed to fill such vacancy in the mode provided by the laws of the State; but in case there shall arise the question which of two or more of such State authorities determining what electors have been appointed, as mentioned in section 5 of this title, is the lawful tribunal of such State, the votes regularly given of those electors, and those only, of such State shall be counted whose title as electors the two Houses, acting separately, shall concurrently decide is supported by the decision of such State so authorized by its law; and in such case of more than one return or paper purporting to be a return from a State, if there shall have been no such determination of the question in the State aforesaid, then those votes, and those only, shall be counted which the two Houses shall concurrently decide were cast by lawful electors appointed in accordance with the laws of the State, unless the two Houses, acting separately, shall concurrently decide such votes not to be the lawful votes of the legally appointed electors of such State. But if the two Houses shall disagree in respect of the counting of such votes, then, and in that case, the votes of the electors whose appointment shall have been certified by the executive of the State, under the seal thereof, shall be counted. When the two Houses have voted, they shall immediately again meet, and the presiding officer shall then announce the decision of the questions submitted. No votes or papers from any other State shall be acted upon until the objections previously made to the votes or papers from any State shall have been finally disposed of.
Same; seats for officers and members of two houses in joint meeting
§ 16. At such joint meeting of the two Houses seats shall be provided as follows: For the President of the Senate, the Speaker’s chair; for the Speaker, immediately upon his left; the Senators, in the body of the Hall upon the right of the presiding officer; for the Representatives, in the body of the Hall not provided for the Senators; for the tellers, Secretary of the Senate, and Clerk of the House of Representatives, at the Clerk’s desk; for the other officers of the two Houses, in front of the Clerk’s desk and upon each side of the Speaker’s platform. Such joint meeting shall not be dissolved until the count of electoral votes shall be completed and the result declared; and no recess shall be taken unless a question shall have arisen in regard to counting any such votes, or otherwise under this subchapter, in which case it shall be competent for either House, acting separately, in the manner herein before provided, to direct a recess of such House not beyond the next calendar day, Sunday excepted, at the hour of 10 o’clock in the forenoon. But if the counting of the electoral votes and the declaration of the result shall not have been completed before the fifth calendar day next after such first meeting of the two Houses, no further or other recess shall be taken by either House.
Same; limit of debate in each house
§ 17. When the two Houses separate to decide upon an objection that may have been made to the counting of any electoral vote or votes from any State, or other question arising in the matter, each Senator and Representative may speak to such objection or question five minutes, and not more than once; but after such debate shall have lasted two hours it shall be the duty of the presiding officer of each House to put the main question without further debate.
Same; parliamentary procedure at joint meeting
§ 18. While the two Houses shall be in meeting as provided in this chapter, the President of the Senate shall have power to preserve order; and no debate shall be allowed and no question shall be put by the presiding officer except to either House on a motion to withdraw.
Vacancy in offices of both president and vice president; officers eligible to act
§ 19. (a) (1) If, by reason of death, resignation, removal from office, inability, or failure to qualify, there is neither a President nor Vice President to discharge the powers and duties of the office of President, then the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall, upon his resignation as Speaker and as Representative in Congress, act as President.
(2) The same rule shall apply in the case of the death, resignation, removal from office, or inability of an individual acting as President under this subsection.
(b) If, at the time when under subsection (a) of this section a Speaker is to begin the discharge of the powers and duties of the office of President, there is no Speaker, or the Speaker fails to qualify as Acting President, then the President pro tempore of the Senate shall, upon his resignation as President pro tempore and as Senator, act as President.
(c) An individual acting as President under subsection (a) or subsection (b) of this section shall continue to act until the expiration of the then current Presidential term, except that
(1) if his discharge of the powers and duties of the office is founded in whole or in part on the failure of both the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect to qualify, then he shall act only until a President or Vice President qualifies; and
(2) if his discharge of the powers and duties of the office is founded in whole or in part on the inability of the President or Vice President, then he shall act only until the removal of the disability of one of such individuals.
(d) (1) If, by reason of death, resignation, removal from office, inability, or failure to qualify, there is no President pro tempore to act as President under subsection (b) of this section, then the officer of the United States who is highest on the following list, and who is not under disability to discharge the powers and duties of the office of President shall act as President: Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Energy, Secretary of Education, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
(2) An individual acting as President under this subsection shall continue so to do until the expiration of the then current Presidential term, but not after a qualified and prior-entitled individual is able to act, except that the removal of the disability of an individual higher on the list contained in paragraph (1) of this subsection or the ability to qualify on the part of an individual higher on such list shall not terminate his service.
(3) The taking of the oath of office by an individual specified in the list in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be held to constitute his resignation from the office by virtue of the holding of which he qualifies to act as President.
(e) Subsections (a), (b), and (d) of this section shall apply only to such officers as are eligible to the office of President under the Constitution. Subsection (d) of this section shall apply only to officers appointed, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, prior to the time of the death, resignation, removal from office, inability, or failure to qualify, of the President pro tempore, and only to officers not under impeachment by the House of Representatives at the time the powers and duties of the office of President devolve upon them.
(f) During the period that any individual acts as President under this section, his compensation shall be at the rate then provided by law in the case of the President.
Resignation or refusal of office
§ 20. The only evidence of a refusal to accept, or of a resignation of the office of President or Vice President, shall be an instrument in writing, declaring the same, and subscribed by the person refusing to accept or resigning, as the case may be, and delivered into the office of the Secretary of State.
§ 21. As used in this chapter the term –
(a) “State” includes the District of Columbia.
(b) “executives of each State” includes the Board of Commissioners * of the District of Columbia.
* The functions of the Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia are now performed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia. (Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967, Section 401, 81 Stat. 948: Pub. L. 93-198, Sections 422 and 711, 87 Stat. 790, 818.)
Psychiatry Professors Ask Obama To COMMAND Trump To Submit To Mental Examination
A trio of psychiatrists has sent a letter to President Barack Obama advising him to command President-elect Donald Trump to submit to “a full medical and neuropsychiatric evaluation.” The psychiatrists want Obama to make Trump get his head examined because they believe Trump “cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality.”
Here is the full text of the apparently wholly serious letter:
“Dear President Obama,
We are writing to express our grave concern regarding the mental stability of our President-Elect. Professional standards do not permit us to venture a diagnosis for a public figure whom we have not evaluated personally. Nevertheless, his widely reported symptoms of mental instability — including grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersensitivity to slights or criticism, and an apparent inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality — lead us to question his fitness for the immense responsibilities of the office. We strongly recommend that, in preparation for assuming these responsibilities, he receive a full medical and neuropsychiatric evaluation by an impartial team of investigators.”
The authors of the letter are Nanette Gartrell, Dee Mosbacher and Judith Herman.
Story 1: 12 Dallas Police Officers Shot In Ambush Assassination with 5 Killed –Shooter Killed By Robot With Explosive Device — Black Lives Matters Provoking Black Racism — Lying Lunatic Left — Dallas Police Chief Brown, Former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama Speech at Dallas Memorial Service Honoring Police Officers — Videos
DALLAS, TX – JULY 12: Police officers arrive at an interfaith memorial service, honoring five slain police officers, at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center on July 12, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. A sniper opend fire following a Black Lives Matter march in Dallas killing five police officers and injuring 12 others. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)