It’s not a done deal yet - apparently there are concerns about some of Billy’s more creative billing procedures connected to his globe trotting - but if Obama thinks her confirmation wouldn’t be too bruising an affair, there’s a good chance that Hillary Clinton will take the job of Secretary of State in the new Administratiion:
Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama, who is reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration, the Guardian has learned.
Obama’s advisers have begun looking into Bill Clinton’s foundation, which distributes millions of dollars to Africa to help with development, to ensure that there is no conflict of interest. But Democrats do not believe that the vetting is likely to be a problem.
Clinton would be well placed to become the country’s dominant voice in foreign affairs, replacing Condoleezza Rice. Since being elected senator for New York, she has specialised in foreign affairs and defence. Although she supported the war in Iraq, she and Obama basically agree on a withdrawal of American troops.
I wrote a few days ago that Obama would be crazy to offer it to her and she would be nuts to take it. And there is still a chance she could turn it down or that Bill Clinton’s finances will turn out to be too problematic to pass muster with the Foreign Relations Committee.
But apparently, the offer is serious and she wants to take the job. Why? What do both principles have to gain?
Obama is in an extremely strong position - perhaps the strongest of any incoming president since Reagan. To say he has a blank check to do what he wants is perhaps an overstatement but ask yourself, who is going to stop him. The press? His own party? His supporters?
It certainly won’t be Republicans stopping him - not with their numbers and their attitude. So Obama doesn’t need anyone to make his administration. He can choose who he pleases and not have to expend the political capitol to get them confirmed.
For Hillary, her place is secure in the Senate as would be her position as leader - if not in name than certainly as a result of her enormous visibility and influence. From the senate, she could wait to see if Obama falls on his face and mount a challenge in 2012 if the opportunity were to arise.
But she would also be just one of many senators who would take center stage over the next few years as Obama’s initiatives worked their way through Congress. She would be visible but she might consider an option that would not only give her TV face time whenever she wanted it but add to her resume some tangible accomplishments that would cement her status as frontrunner for either 2012 or 2016. Hence, the idea of Hillary for Secretary of State.
Obama will apparently be concentrating on domestic policies for the first several months - perhaps a year of his term. He needs someone who doesn’t need (and wouldn’t accept) much supervision. Setting broad goals in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East, Hillary would be tasked to achieve those goals - how would be pretty much up to her. She would be the most independent Secretary of State since Kissinger - and easily the most visible.
But this arrangement would almost certainly cause trouble for both principles. Obama may figure that having her in the cabinet will short circuit any plans she has to challenge him in 2012. If the economy really goes south and despite the efforts of the Obamamedia and the Democrats his policies are seen as the cause, it won’t matter where Hillary is, she will make a run. I can’t see her having the patience to wait until 2016 unless Obama is a smashing success. Unless we can believe that she has given up her desire to be president, 2012 looms large in both her and Obama’s plans.
For Obama then, he would get Hillary’s (and Bill’s) prestige and extensive contacts around the world - for maybe two years. That’s how long I give this marriage. Eventually, Obama will tire of the drama, the backbiting, the blame casting, the whispers that build the Clinton’s up at his expense, and either fire her or she will resign on her own. If the climate is right, she would pick up where she left off and make a run. If not, she can always run for the senate (or governor) and use that position as a power base for 2016.
Obama and the country could do worse than Hillary Clinton at State. I think she proved during the campaign that she has a much more realistic outlook on the world than the naive Obama and would probably be one of the only Obama foreign policy advisors who would advocate or support military action against Iran as a last resort. She is a steady friend of Israel, a more practical advocate for an Iraq drawdown, would support a surge of forces in Afghanistan, and generally has a more real politik outlook than the Obama crew. We could have done a lot worse if you consider the gaggle of far left liberals Obama tapped as his advisors during the campaign.
A bold move by Obama - one that I think he is going to come to regret.