(CNN) -- Think of all the problems that U.S. President Barack Obama is facing -- the economy, two wars, Somali pirates and the Swine flu -- and you can easily forget the one that went away.
Barack Obama has turned Hillary Clinton from a political rival into a loyal ally.
It's Hillary Clinton, who literally went away, traveling as America's top diplomat to Switzerland and South Korea, Ireland and Indonesia, and several ports of call in between. She still works in Washington, but in a way few of us would have expected.
Think back: Obama and Clinton spent a long time plotting against each other, competing in a drawn-out contest for their party's presidential nomination. It was a battle bitter enough to threaten to split the Democrats and cost them the election.
Obama won, of course, and stunned the country by naming Clinton to his cabinet as secretary of state. It put her in the company of more experienced foreign-policy hands such as vice-president Joe Biden and started talk about whether Obama's "Team of Rivals" could cooperate successfully. So far, it seems they have.
Clinton has been many things -- a lawyer, a First Lady and a senator. Now, she has become the very model of a loyal cabinet secretary and busy diplomat.
If Clinton has a lower profile that's partly a product of the times. Right now, the most important decisions for the administration are about the economy. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan probably come next. If it isn't about money or mayhem, America isn't really all that interested.
And Hillary isn't the only Clinton who's gotten quieter. Bill Clinton remains one of the most popular figures in American politics, but these days, he's barely seen. He hasn't ceded the spotlight to Hillary; they have both backed away from it, in favor of Obama.
Why? For nearly two decades, a Clinton was either running for president or holding the office. Now, neither of them is. Hillary Clinton tells reporters she loves her new job.
And even if she still wants to be president, Obama has that job for the foreseeable future.
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