If you want to get a feel for how bad things had become in our diplomatic service, just check out the reception that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got when she arrived for work.

After years of suffering under the clueless idiot Lecondel Rice, our diplomatic services are hurting. Career diplomats have left in droves, fed up with a boss who seemed content to shop for the snazziest pumps while the world burned. The arrival of Hillary Clinton at the Department of State is, for those diplomats who remained, a resurrection. The State Department has truly been born again, and the US will, at long last, have an intelligent face to show the world.

Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived for her first day of work at the State Department Thursday, assuming the mantle of the nation’s chief diplomat and preparing to name a pair of renowned diplomats to serve as special emissaries to the Middle East and South Asia.

The morning after she was easily confirmed by the Senate, Mrs. Clinton was greeted by a crowd of more than a thousand State Department employees, cheering and whooping like a campaign gathering.

“This is going to be a great adventure,” Mrs. Clinton said to employees in a lively 10-minute address, as people craned to see her from a balcony in the flag-lined lobby of the State Department.

Mrs. Clinton said she sought a “sense of openness and candor in this building,” and invited people to “think outside the proverbial box,” which drew a yelp from a man in the crowd. She promised “robust diplomacy” and “effective development” to restore America’s standing overseas.

Mrs. Clinton walked into the building just after 9:15 a.m., to a hail of camera flashes. She was met at the door by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William J. Burns, the top-ranking career diplomat, who introduced her as the nation’s 67th secretary of state.

Speaking for the employees, Steve Kashkett said, “As you can tell from the enthusiastic welcome, so far, we are thrilled to have you here.” Noting that Mr. Kashkett had shown wise caution in adding the words “so far,” Mrs. Clinton said, “This is not going to be easy.”

At lunchtime, President Obama and Vice President Biden were scheduled to come to the department to meet Mrs. Clinton and speak to the staff. Together, they will announce the two emissaries, George J. Mitchell, who will oversee Arab-Israeli issues, and Richard C. Holbrooke, who will have the title special representative and handle Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mr. Mitchell, a former Senate majority leader, helped broker a peace agreement in Northern Ireland. Mr. Holbrooke, a longtime diplomat, played a key role in the Dayton peace accord, which ended the war in Bosnia.

Isn’t it refreshing to have a President who makes appointments based on competence! Bringing Mitchell and Holbrooke back to the diplomatic scene is also indicative of the fact that the grownups are once again in charge. Under the auspices of Secretary of State Clinton, a powerful diplomatic team has been assembled to address the ills of the world.

I don’t know how well it’ll all play out, of course. But the early signs coming from Washington are the most hopeful ones we’ve seen in a long time.

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