18 November 2008

Hill at State

Well the Guardian called it this morning: Senator Clinton is to be Obama's Sec'y of State.

This could be a great thing. While I'm sensitive to those who say that she might bring some of Clinton's drama to the White House, the reality is that if you are in Tokyo or Berlin or Moscow, "Secretary of State Clinton" does sound different than "Secretary of State Kerry" or "Secretary of State Richardson." I think Chuck Hagel (R-NE) would have been a great pick - he's a man of prodigious intellect and it would show that Obama is serious about crossing crossing party lines - but this is better.

Many people have written this week of LBJ's dictum on J. Edgar Hoover, "It's better to have him in the tent pissing out than outside pissing in" while referencing this pick. I think there's some of that, for it's very hard to see a scenario in which Obama is challenged by another Dem if it's not Hillary. I also think that, like in so many other ways, Obama may shift from recent precedent and cashier Biden at the end of his first term and make Clinton his VP opening to her a run for the Presidency in 2016 on her deep resume. By that time, surely, people will have forgiven Bill for all of those years of peace and prosperity.

There are political calculations, but I think she would be brilliant at State in no small part because she is, after all, brilliant. She works tirelessly. She is a fierce advocate for our nation and for women. My concern is that State is one (the one?) cabinet position where discordance between the President and the Secretary has real implications for our foreign policy, and let's face it, Obama and Clinton aren't Truman and Acheson; but maybe like those two there is enough raw talent and commitment to what's best for the nation that this will be the new standard for State/Presidential relationships.

Read the papers. It would be a great time for a new standard.

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