Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the State Department for four years in the first half of the Obama administration, from 2009-2013, when she left that post in preparation for her ultimately unsuccessful 2016 presidential run.
Now, 10 years after her service as the nation's top diplomat ended, Clinton's official portrait was finally unveiled at a State Department ceremony on Tuesday, according to The Hill.
The lengthy delay in revealing the portrait was blamed on both the COVID pandemic as well as Clinton's desire to not reveal the painting during the administration of her bitterly hated rival, former President Donald Trump, who defeated and blocked her from a presumptive presidency in 2016.
Current Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered remarks Tuesday in the newly refurbished Ben Franklin Room of the State Department to introduce his predecessor and sing the praises of her purported accomplishments in that same role a decade prior while also noting that he met his wife even earlier while she worked in then-first lady Clinton's office in the 1990s.
"Now, as the secretary knows very well, the walk to the secretary’s office on the seventh floor is a little bit awe-inspiring; it’s a little bit humbling," Blinken said. "You pass through the stately diplomatic reception rooms and then down that wood-paneled mahogany row, surrounded by portraits of our predecessors, most of them looking a little bit severe, many with some pretty imaginative facial hair, and all but three of them white men."
He then added, "And now, beginning today, another secretary will join this esteemed group -- a secretary who helped transform American diplomacy for the 21st century: Hillary Rodham Clinton."
Blinken continued to speak at length about the great job that Clinton had done as secretary and noted her various diplomatic achievements in all corners of the world and some of the issues she had pressed on the international stage.
He concluded by referencing Clinton's own comparison of American leadership to running a relay race and said, "Secretary Clinton, your leg of the race helped revitalize the power and the purpose of American diplomacy. It reminded the world of who America is, what we stand for, and helped us achieve our mission, what we’re all here ultimately to do -- to make our people and people around the world a little bit safer, a little bit more secure, a little bit more prosperous, a little healthier, a little bit more filled with opportunity."
Clinton herself then delivered brief remarks prior to the portrait unveiling and expressed her deep gratitude for the honor she had received while sharing humorous anecdotes and some of what she viewed as her proudest moments and accomplishments while serving.
In the end, she thanked Blinken and everybody else at the State Department, along with artist Steve Paulson, and said to intermittent laughter and applause from the audience, "And it is such a joy to be back here, and I haven’t seen this portrait in a really long time. I -- Steve Paulson is amazing, but between COVID, between not wanting to finish it during the prior administration -- it’s -- it’s been a while. It’s been a while, and I am going to be probably as surprised as all of you. But this could not be a happier occasion, and thank you so much for hosting us."
After the portrait was unveiled, Clinton posted it to social media and wrote, "Today, I was honored to return to the @StateDept and join @SecBlinken in unveiling my official portrait as 67th Secretary of State. We're delighted to share it with the American public right here, in case you don't make it in person to headquarters in Foggy Bottom anytime soon."
We're delighted to share it with the American public right here, in case you don't make it in person to headquarters in Foggy Bottom anytime soon. pic.twitter.com/YcPymY77aq
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 26, 2023
Of course, not everyone was quite as thrilled about the official portrait unveiling for former Secretary Clinton, according to Fox News, and her post on social media received quite a bit of mockery and sharp criticisms for things that occurred during her tenure that were not mentioned in either Blinken's laudatory remarks or her own speech.
Those critiques were primarily focused on the 2012 Benghazi attack that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Scott Stevens, though there were also mocking references to her private email server scandal, the allegations of corruption against the Clinton family, and her own embarrassing loss to Trump in 2016, among other things.