09/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Rescue of Ling, Lee, and the National Mood

There are few purely joyous moments in the course of daily global events. The homecoming of the two female journalists from North Korea -- Laura Ling and Euna Lee was one of these. Hurray!

The sight of these two freed women, stepping off the plane which brought them back, broke through the summer doldrums of the increasingly nasty health care debate, it took our minds off, for a moment, of the tragic demise of freedom in Iran, and it even brought the sun out, after days and days of deluge.

And it was one of those rare times when everybody looked good. Bill Clinton for taking the risk to go to North Korea and to draw on his wildly popular political capital to convince the North Korean leadership let these captives go free. His wife Hillary looked good, because she was not in competition with her husband, she worked in partnership with him. And the Obama administration had the self-confidence to let him go and not care about who takes credit for the rescue.

Strikingly, when the two women disembarked, after tears, hugs and kisses, and a few words from Al Gore, Bill Clinton chose not to speak. This said more about the former president than any of his words could have conveyed.

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Madeleine M. Kunin is the former Governor of Vermont and was the state's first woman governor. She served as Ambassador to Switzerland for President Clinton, and was on the three-person panel that chose Al Gore to be Clinton's VP. She is the author of Pearls, Politics, and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead from Chelsea Green Publishing.

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