Report: Hillary Clinton Will Accept Obama Secretary Of State Job
Will New York Senator Hillary Clinton accept a reported job offer of Secretary of State from her onetime Democratic nomination rival President Elect Barack Obama? The British newspaper The Guardian says she is going to accept it — and a longtime Democratic strategist says Obama’s offer to Clinton and his victory speech signal Obama’s intention to make his presidency a “big” Presidency.
The Guardian, in a report other news outlets have yet to also report, says the following:
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.
In reality, in an early 21st century brimming with nonstop news cycles, weblogs constantly needing to “feed the beast,” left and rightwing talk radio and cable radio shows, if there is anything to go after in Bill Clinton’s financial dealings, it will be gone after. But would it be enough to derail a Hillary Clinton from State?
Unless it’s revealed that Bill Clinton is business partners with Osama bin Laden in renting out cave apartments in Pakistan’s remote areas, it’s unlikely. Most Hillary Clinton supporters will be ecstatic that she wants to take a high profile job where she can shine.
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.
Clinton, who still harbours hopes of a future presidential run, had to weigh up whether she would be better placed by staying in the Senate, which offers a platform for life, or making the more uncertain career move to the secretary of state job.
One note on that.
The conventional wisdom (news media and weblog) has been just, plain lousy this year. And the prevailing conventional wisdom that after one or two Obama terms Clinton would somehow be too old to seek the Presidency is just as lousy.
Other nations (which have already had women in the top government spots, by the way) have had older heads of state than the U.S. And GOPOer John McCain’s loss has been attributed to many factors this year, but news reports didn’t attribute his 72 years as being the key one. If Clinton has a high profile — and respected one — she can run when Obama leaves office.
From a policy standpoint, a Clinton choice makes great sense.
She has a built in reservoir of good-will throughout the world and during the primaries she was at her best during debates when she talked in detail about foreign issues. And if she has ambitions? It would mean she’d work all the more harder to help formulate and implement sound policies. Plus: she knows how to build coalitions.
Exactly what does the Obama olive branch (actually, it’s more like the entire olive tree) to Clinton and Obama’s victory speech suggest? According to longtime Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, writing in The Week, it means Obama is planning a “big” Presidency, one that won’t be chained in by ideology or even expectations of some supporters.
It’s worth noting the historical perspective Shrum provides. Like everyone else talking about Obama, he points to “TEAM OF RIVALS, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s portrait of Lincoln’s Civil War cabinet” (Could there be a scandal here? Could Obama be getting ROYALTIES from the book everyone who is tea leaf reading is now running out to buy?). He then takes a look at recent Presidents:
First, Obama may not be Lincoln—no one is. But thankfully he isn’t plagued by the insecurities and self-doubts that have crippled other chief executives. A self-possessed John F. Kennedy could tap his previously far more powerful rival, Lyndon Johnson, for vice president and appoint prominent Republicans to his administration.
Johnson, on the other hand, could hardly bear to be in the same room with Robert Kennedy. After Johnson assumed the presidency, he didn’t even want RFK in the same White House. Whether he would have heeded Kennedy’s doubts about Vietnam is unknowable. But it is undeniable that Johnson stoked a rivalry because he could not abide a team.
Also on the weak side of the ledger is Richard Nixon, who was alternately paranoid about and disdainful of Ronald Reagan and Nelson Rockefeller; and Jimmy Carter, who appeared to take a self-defeating satisfaction in alienating Ted Kennedy. One thing we know for sure: if your vice president is Spiro Agnew or Dan Quayle, you have a towel carrier, not a teammate. (On the other hand, if your vice president acts like you’re a nuisance and sends signals that he runs the government, you have a different sort of problem.)
On the strong side, Ronald Reagan not only picked George Bush, Sr. as his running mate after a long primary battle, he also tapped Bush’s campaign manager, Jim Baker, as White House Chief of Staff. Bill Clinton elevated his long-time southern rival Al Gore to the vice presidency.
However, no one in our time has taken up the notion of a team of rivals as fully as Barack Obama, perhaps because no one had crystallized it in the American imagination until Goodwin wrote her book. Still, what Obama is doing is not the product of a book, but of his character. He repeatedly returned to the idea of Clinton as a possible vice presidential nominee before turning to the Senate’s senior Democrat on foreign policy, Joe Biden. Virtually no one took the idea of Secretary of State Clinton seriously until Obama quietly, surprisingly, made the possibility real. Obama is unafraid to be surrounded not only by the best talent, but by the brightest stars. He does not fear being outshone.
Obama’s preference for colleagues of stature answers another question currently being pondered by analysts and partisans. Does he intend a presidency of big changes or bite-size ones?
He points to Obama’s election night victory speech to note that Obama is most assuredly not thinking small. Indeed, you can get now he won’t lie awake upset that he isn’t pleasing Rush Limbaugh OR Randi Rhodes…
There will be an element of ruthlessness to this. In his personnel choices, Obama has revealed that the mission is more important to him than past service or personal support. His ambitions reach beyond the Clinton Presidency or the marginal agenda that Frum regards as the mandate of 2008. As important as his victory was, Barack Obama doesn’t want the most significant accomplishment of his presidency to be the day he was elected.
That attitude was notable in the 60 Minutes interview. Obama didn’t go on and on about how historic a victory his election was. He responded when asked but made it clear that is not what his election was all about. He otherwise talked about problem solving and stressed that sticking to a path to adhere to an ideology and make sure he fits a label isn’t what he has in mind.
UPDATE: Or will she accept it? Read Allahpundit’s updates...