An Afternoon with Hillary Rodham Clinton

Mrs. Clinton getting ready for the Q&A

There I was, the other day, checking my email, when I received an email from the American Embassy saying I was invited Friday afternoon to a conversation with an “American VIP.”

Hmm, I thought.  Of course I presumed it had something to do with the Manama Dialogue that was taking place over the weekend.  “Which American VIP?” I asked, and I was told it was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  “I’ll be there!” I told them.  The event was to be held at the Bahrain Museum.

It seems the Secretary wanted (or maybe was advised to) have a chat with the “youth in Bahrain.”  I find the fact that I’m  still lumped in with “the youth of Bahrain” very flattering 🙂  Though, being in my late(ish) thirties, I think I was the oldest guy there.  That was until my good friend, and famous human rights blogger Mahmood walked in.  Ahh, now I feel like a youth!

With friend Mahmood Al-Yousif

The invitation was very clear.  There was a long list of things you could not bring, and you had to be on time.  The event would start at 12:00 pm exactly and would finish at 1:30 pm.  Great I thought, enough to come back to my mother’s house for Friday lunch, and then take my son to his friend’s birthday party.

Well it turns out things did not go like clock work.  We had to wait three and a half hours for the Secretary to show up!  It seems Secretary Clinton got delayed in a press conference.  Then she had a meeting with His Majesty, followed by a lunch.  All the while we were kept waiting.

With H.E. Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa. Probably Bahrain's most down-to-earth minister.

She did not show up until 3:30 pm!  By then the crowd was tired and hungry.  But there were quite a few friends there, so we kept each other company, but I think most people were kept busy by their smart phones.  There was a lot of tweeting going on.

My impression

I have to say I was really impressed with Mrs. Clinton.  She was warm, friendly and very charming.  Definitely a seasoned politician.  There was a moderator in the audience who chose who would ask questions, and she acknowledge each question and gave a thorough, diplomatic answer.

A section of the audience before she came

One participant asked if she planned to run for the presidency again and she said no.  After her current position she would return to advocacy work, which she did in her youth.  What I liked about her was that she did not claim that her country was perfect, and she pointed out that the US still had many democratic, social and economic hurdles to overcome.  Seeing her answer the questions and charm the audience was like seeing a master craftswoman at work.  As I told a friend after she left, if you can survive a US presidential campaign, you can survive anything.  She really is a  Master Politician.

I had two questions I wanted to ask her, and I raised my hands several times to get the moderator’s attention, but either he never saw me or never got around to me.  Oh well, next time perhaps.  When the Q&A session was over, which I think lasted around 45 minutes, Mrs. Clinton came down from the mini-stage and approached people to say hello.  I wanted to take a photo with her but she was mobbed, and I didn’t feel like pushing through just for the photo.

Overall an enjoyable event.  I was thoroughly impressed with this woman, and I’m glad I went.

Talk to you soon.

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