For the last eight years, there has been a vacuum at State. Secretary Powell should have done well, but he was completely compromised during the build-up to the Iraq War.
Secretary Rice is a brilliant academic, promoted way above her competence level. Like many academics, she intellectualizes the issues and her statements are often ambiguous.
I'm reasonably intelligent and reasonably well-read, but I have no idea what she actually meant in her statements to the president of Georgia, for example, and whatever she says she meant ("don't attack"), obviously he didn't get it either.
Neither of those two, of course, has ever held elective office and much of the function of state is dealing with politicians in other countries. Whether the elections that brought them to power were democratic is open to question, but they remain politicians.
Mrs. Clinton has held elective office and came closer then any other woman ever has to the presidency. Even many of her enemies on the right (and the left) admit her remarkable skills - it's happening on Fox News as I write this.
She can also be down and dirty, boots on the ground, bang heads together, with the tenacity of a put bull. Provably, she doesn't easily give up and, in her presidential campaign, was able to craft nuanced coalitions.
She is also loyal - she stuck to her husband when everyone in the country would have understood if she had left him - and she has been a powerful advocate for women's rights.
Importantly, for this role, she has a huge ego. Given the monstrous ego-centics with whom she will be dealing, this may prove to be be her greatest asset.
Is there the potential for conflict in this? I hope so. There should have been conflict during Secretary Powell's term.
Is there the possibility that she be fail as SOS? There is always that possibility. But it is hard to imagine that she could do any worse than the two previous incumbents, and, given her ambition and her desire to create her place in history, there is also the possibility that she may actually achieve something.
To those who insist that the job should go to a more conventional diplomat, I can only say look where that's got us for the past eight years.