Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is an unlikely internet darling. She has the necessary qualities: She is charming and often outspoken, recognizable and often in the company of the rich and famous. But over the 20 years since she moved into the White House, she has as often been a victim of new media as she has been embraced by it.
As First Lady, she criticized the 24-hour news cycle for how it was distorting political debate. In her husband's second term, the nascent online media - with new players like the Drudge Report - helped make their lives miserable.
In 2008, as she sought the Democratic nomination, the advent of social media empowered enthusiastic supporters of a relatively young, relatively untested candidate to tap energy and build momentum that eluded her well-financed, more traditional operation. In a cycle when the personality of a candidate went hand-in-hand with the personality of campaign supporters, Obama unquestionably seized the cool factor. Clinton, meanwhile, faced questions about her likability.
Yet now, the woman who has weathered every kind of online attack is experiencing a new pleasure: online celebration.
It's one part praise for the way she handles her job, one part admiration for a person who -- despite all the attacks -- is regularly ranked as one of the most respected in America, and part a special form of non-malicious irony that is the sweet spot of what goes viral online.
The most recent example has been the widely circulated and genuinely appreciated video of our Secretary of State dancing on her recent diplomatic travel.
Yes, it's fun watching famously disciplined people be carefree. But this video doesn't just appeal to viewers because Hillary Clinton is stepping out of her comfort zone. In some ways, it seems like it is her comfort zone -- we all love her best when she's, well, doing her thing.
This more recent new media boomlet is nothing compared to "Texts From Hillary." This sensational meme that featured Secretary Clinton -- looking too-cool-for-school and on top of the world -- with sunglasses on and blackberry in hand. Contributors imagined who she was texting and what she was saying, and juxtaposed photos of other famous people -- from the political, media and entertainment worlds -- texting back and forth with her. Invariably, they were the butt of her jokes, the supplicants seeking her audience, the Wannabes who know she's the real deal.
HRC then proved herself the real deal -- meeting the creators of that site and greeting them with a text-style message in the spirit of the game. She out-meta'd meta.
Does any of this matter? Or is it just a game?
At a time when most politicians are suffering low approval ratings, Secretary Clinton is widely acclaimed -- left, right and center. The woman whose "likability" was questions is now liked, loved, admired and joyfully teased in a way that only increases her popularity. A person who had lost out to new media is now conquering it.
None of which should lead anyone to conclusions about Clinton's future after she leaves the State Department or about the 2016 run her most ardent supporters dream of. But all of this is a reminder that a woman who has been a leading figure for two decades isn't going to disappear anytime soon. And when people talk about the "charming one" in the Clinton family, Bill has a run for his money.