I remember the days – in the 1990s – when Hillary Clinton was deemed to be mono-tonal (shrill) and unlikeable as a meddlesome First Lady who was more interested in policy than placemats.

Today, fresh out of hospital and on the eve of retirement as the most widely-travelled Secretary of State in American history, she is at the top her game. Just ask the Senators who were attempting to grill her on Capitol Hill today about the Benghazi killings last September.

Hillary was at times tearful, angry, poignant and poised. She has mastered her brief but also an emotional range that wasn’t obvious before.

She has travelled the world as America’s chief diplomat and although she leaves no major foreign policy legacies she has also made no major mistakes.

Like almost everyone else this administration was blind-sided by the Arab Spring. Washington has tried in vain to shape events that are far beyond its control. It has been relegated to impatient ringside observer and it is too early to tell whether, for instance, Hillary Clinton’s decision to stay out of the fray in Syria and give the Assad regime too many initial chances for self improvement fuelled the civil war or prevented a wider regional conflict. The jury will be out on that for years to come.

So, although she still denies that she intends to run in 2016, I just can’t imagine her putting on the slippers of retirement. Bill, health permitting, probably wouldn’t let her anyway. He adores campaigning and you can just imagine him on the hustings hustling for Hillary next time round. Some people believe they made a deal to that effect many years ago.

It was entertaining to watch the faces of the Senate grandees, Democrats and Republicans who may have to take in Hillary Clinton in a few years.

One up-and-coming Congressman, Republican Luke Messer from Indiana, told me that the Benghazi business showed how she and her boss had taken their eyes off the al-Qaeda ball (see below). They had become complacent ever since the killing of Osama Bin Laden and had wrongly declared the so-called war on terror over and won.

Rep Messer was getting ready to grill the outgoing Secretary of State at the House Foreign Affairs Committee later in the day. He hopes to be giving her a hard time, manners permitting.

What he also hopes is that she won’t even be running for the White House. She and Bill will be hard to beat, he added.

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