Secretary of State

Clinton is said to opt for Secretary of State position

Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to give up her Senate seat and accept the position of secretary of state, making her the public face around the world for the administration of the man who beat her for the Democratic presidential nomination, two confidants said Friday. [continued…]

Will Clinton fill State Dept. with loyalists?

With Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) almost certain to become President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of state, some foreign-policy experts in the Obama orbit are expressing frustration.

Clinton herself isn’t so much the problem, they say. It’s the loyalists and traditional thinkers Clinton is likely to bring into the State Dept. if she becomes secretary. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — This would be a moment to relish: After Thanksgiving, the official announcement comes out and Hillary Clinton turns out not to be Obama’s pick for Secretary of State. At least, I’d relish that moment not so much because I hate the idea of her getting that position as much I’d delight in the chattering classes being made to look so foolish for having engaged in so much speculation about the meaning of something that never happened.

Even so, in the spirit of the times, I’ll join the herd and add a few thoughts of my own:

1. If HRC becomes SoS, it means she’s laid to rest any aspiration to become president. If the Obama administration turns out to be a failure, she could conceivably run in 2012 but only if she’d remained in the Senate.
2. The idea that Obama has picked her because he wants to create a “team of rivals” has been ridiculously overstated. Sure, that may have influenced his thinking but I doubt very much that it would be the core of his reasoning for selecting her in this particular position.
3. I would expect that he has laid out the parameters for her policy making role with sufficient clarity that they both agree on exactly what it means to be “serving at the president’s pleasure”. She’ll have a strong voice but she won’t have the final say.
4. Bob Woodward apparently said:

    Being president is about control, and tell me who ever controlled Bill or Hillary Clinton. They can’t control each other. … I think it’s because Warren Buffett and Paul Volcker and others have convinced Obama, ‘You’re going to have to focus like a laser on the economy. That’s issue Number One. And give Hillary and Bill the world.’ … I think people are fantasizing or smoking something if they think Joe Biden’s going to call Hillary Clinton up and say, ‘This is what we want you to do.’

I don’t buy it. This caricature of the Clintons as being utterly uncontrollable should have been laid to rest after HRC conceded her defeat in the primaries and then went on to help get Obama elected.
5. There seems to be a widely held view that as an executive rookie, Obama is now being buffeted by Washington’s institutional powers and pushed into making decisions that reflect the conventional wisdom of seasoned operatives more than judgments of his own. I suspect this perception is largely a product of a false equation being made between the mildness of Obama’s manner and the idea that this must make him susceptible to being pushed around. I believe, on the contrary, that he will turn out to be much more of a ‘decider’ than Bush ever was. His receptiveness to input from others is a reflection of the confidence he has in the power of his own mind.

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2 thoughts on “Secretary of State

  1. Carol Elkins

    Obama is proving that he means what he says. He says he wants people who think differently from himself. Obviously, they have to be good at thinking differently. He wants intellectual ferment. So, he appoints people like Hillary. He doesn’t just want them as foils, either. He may be confident, but he does not believe that he is always right about everything. I call this “dramatizing” his abstract statements. Drama means action. Sit back and enjoy the show!

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