This makes complete sense.  At the beginning of a military mission, the American people usually get behind a strong, decisive leader, regardless of whether they have full confidence in the mission itself.  When an American can bend global efforts to our objectives — and especially if the leader can overcome high-ranking resistance to achieve those ends — it almost always plays well in the first blush of conflict and gives confidence of victory.

Too bad this isn’t Barack Obama, huh?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s favorable rating from Americans is now 66%, up from 61% in July 2010 and her highest rating to date while serving in the Obama administration. The current rating is just one percentage point below her all-time high rating of 67%, from December 1998. …

The latest results are from a March 25-27 Gallup poll conducted while the United States was actively involved in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, a policy Clinton reportedly advocated. The same poll finds Clinton rated more positively than other top administration officials. Obama receives a 54% favorable rating, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, 52%, and Vice President Joe Biden, 46%.

As Gallup points out, this is Hillary’s highest rating since the impeachment scandal, but she’d better enjoy it while she can.  She has gotten credit for pushing Obama to take some kind of leadership role in a military action that was going to happen with or without us (along with two other women in the administration, Samantha Power and Susan Rice).  If the fallout from bungling the intelligence on the rebels that Clinton pushed Obama into helping gets too heavy to ignore — especially if it turns out that al-Qaeda is heavily invested in it — Hillary will become the sacrificial lamb, and not without justification.

This rating puts Hillary far out in front as the most popular member of the administration, at least among those mention in Gallup’s survey.  She’s 12 points up on her boss, whose unfavorable numbers are the highest of the four at 43%. Interestingly, Gallup doesn’t poll on other administration figures, such as Tim Geithner, Eric Holder, Janet Napolitano, or others.  I’d guess that their popularity wouldn’t even threaten Joe Biden’s standing as fourth on this list.  It is interesting, though, to see Gates fall to third with a 52/22 and 27% having no opinion at all at the start of military operations.