November 17, 2008

Hillary Clinton should not want to be Obama's Secretary of State.

Argues Peter Beinart, pretty convincingly.
The last former secretary of state to even seek the presidency was Alexander Haig in 1988, and his candidacy was a joke. To find a former secretary of state who actually won you have to go back 150 years, to James Buchanan... It forces you to turn your energies away from domestic issues, which is what Americans usually vote on, and towards international questions that many find exotic and obscure...

[S]ecretaries of state aren’t meant to be politically popular. They’re not supposed to burnish their approval ratings; they’re supposed to take bullets so presidents can burnish theirs....
Why should the great Hillary live in Barack Obama's shadow, subject to dismissal at his whim? How is it better than building yourself up independently as the Senator from New York, carving out your issues, readying yourself for 2016 -- or 2012 if Obama slips up?
Secretaries of state were struggling even before the vice presidency—historically a dish rag of a job—got a steroid injection. With Al Gore and Dick Cheney and now, almost certainly, Joseph Biden wielding real foreign policy muscle, decision-making is becoming even more centralized at the White House. NSC advisors pop into the Oval Office all day, often alone. Vice presidents, if they have the president’s trust, have tons of opportunities to whisper in his ear when no one else is around. Secretaries of state, by contrast, often only see the president in big, scripted meetings, where they have to compete for time with the director of CIA.
And, by the way, I notice Presidents keep putting women in that slot. What's that about? Hmmm. Steroid... muscle....

UPDATE: The Guardian claims to have learned that "Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama." Why would she let it be known that she'd accept the job if it's offered? As a ploy to lock him in?

AND: This is the Rush Limbaugh analysis:
Let's talk about Hillary and secretary of state. Very, very brilliant move. You know the old adage keep your friends close, your enemies closer? This is a textbook case of keeping your enemies closer.... It's about making it impossible for her to run for the presidency again in 2012....

If you want to run for president in 2012, you gotta start in two years. If you're the secretary of state for two years, then you resign, you're running against the incumbent and you were part of the cabinet? They're figuring not even Hillary would do that, and even if she did, it wouldn't be effective.

61 comments:

Skyler said...

I seriously doubt that Joe Biden will be given much to do as VP. His loud mouth would cause too many troubles.

Revenant said...

I seriously doubt that Joe Biden will be given much to do as VP.

We could make him ambassador to Lebannon. I hear Hezbollah has been chased out of there.

integrity said...

Yahoo! Now that is exciting.

Hillary will do a wonderful job, and is very ambitious. Perfect. She already has my vote for 2016.

I bet he makes McCain a good offer too.

jprapp said...

"Yes we can:" Hillary + steroids + muscle to do what Haig couldn’t: “I’m in charge here.”

john said...

Why would she let it be known that she'd accept the job if it's offered? As a ploy to lock him in?

Or perhaps a ploy to make sure he doesn't offer.

Integrity: given McCain's stance on Iraq, why would Obama be interested in him (at Defense?). Or ... that was a joke, right?

Bissage said...

Look, there is no way Hillary Clinton would ever agree to serve as President Obama’s Secretary of State.

That would be demeaning.

But what about Administrative Assistant of State?

Hmmmmmmm . . . now we're talking!!!

Meade said...

"Why would she let it be known that she'd accept the job if it's offered? As a ploy to lock him in?"

No, as way of making it look like she's on the same team when they both know he's not going to offer it and she doesn't want it. It's all for show. They actually hate each other's guts.

Maguro said...

Beinart is right - it's a thankless job with almost no political upside. If Hillary gives up her Senate seat to be Obama's SecState, she is not nearly as smart as I thought.

integrity said...

john said...

Integrity: given McCain's stance on Iraq, why would Obama be interested in him (at Defense?). Or ... that was a joke, right?



I just read in the Drudge link that he did not offer McCain anything. I don't think Obama is an ideologue and I still think he could offer him something. He's interested in statesmanship, weird for the times in which we live.

And he just gave a senator that voted for the invasion of Iraq Secretary of State. We may be severe ideologues, he does not seem to be.

Bissage said...

And regarding Mr. Steroid, this guy approves!

YEAH . . . BOYEEE!!!

Methadras said...

Skyler said...

I seriously doubt that Joe Biden will be given much to do as VP. His loud mouth would cause too many troubles.


Mr. Polydent Clickety-Click will become a mere footnote in a soon-to-be mediocre and ineffectual administration. The promise breaking is already beginning. You Barelytards are getting what you voted for.

Simon said...

The Grauniad's headline is hilarious - "Hillary Clinton to accept Obama's offer of secretary of state job[;] President-elect Barack Obama reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration." Oh yeah - an administration with both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is a "broad coalition":

Elwood: What kind of music do you usually have here?
Claire: Oh, we got both kinds. We got country and western.


And I still say she's ineligible. Appoint her and we start looking for a plaintiff.

ricpic said...

And what, pray tell, makes her "great?"

The emptiness of our best and brightest appalls.

holdfast said...

So we now will have a SecState whose husband is a lobbyist for entire foreign nations (Dubai)? I think I picked the wrong week to stop doing qualudes.

1jpb said...

Well, so far the HRC fans commenting at talkleft (where I was just re-banned, but only in BTD's posts, this time) are pleased to see her in this position.

But, some of their joy comes from their hope that this assignment will make BHO supporters go nuts. And, some of them like the idea of Richardson or Kerry being disappointed.

To each his/her own.

Original George said...

If Obama, Biden, Pelosi, and Robert Byrd died, she'd be President.

Isn't that reason enough?

Eric said...

Secretary of State? Seriously? Why in the world would a sitting Senator want to give up a lifetime of ease and security for a job that'll keep you awake nights? And will have everyone pissed off at you for someone else's policies.

And who would want to be in charge of the prima donnas in the FSO? You can't fire them, half of them have gone native, and they can hurt you with the artful leak. Neither Powell nor Rice was able to get a "United States" desk established, and there's no reason to think Hillary would be any more successful.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

If she did accept, it's the stupidest thing she's ever done.

Come on, Hillary! Keep your job in the Senate. You can run for President again in 2012, after Obama has tried for four years to clean up an impossible mess that no person could ever clean up. Make it look like it's all his fault!

Be the Kennedy to his Carter, not the...umm...Haig to his Reagan! (?)

fivewheels said...

If Clinton actually took the job and did it, I would be impressed beyond anything I could have imagined about her. Because it would mean that she was sacrificing her selfish political future in order to serve the country.

I'm not saying she'd serve it well, or that this would be a good move (for the country) or a sign of good judgment on the part of Obama, but my opinion of Clinton would leap about a billionfold.

So I don't believe it will happen.

ricpic, I took the "great" to be sarcastic.

jdeeripper said...

I notice Presidents keep putting women in that slot. What's that about? Hmmm. Steroid... muscle....

Powell was a wimp but hardly a woman.

The Sec of State will be competing with Biden for policy influence.

President elect Rahm Emanuel should offer the job to the other Clinton.

jdeeripper said...

Maybe the Sec of State job is more suited for a woman, top diplomat. Aren't women better than men at talking and bringing about more harmonious arrangements?

As opposed to men need to win at everything.

I'm just not sure if Hillary is woman enough for the job.

According to Dave Barry, it was an interesting race on the Democratic side with Sen. Hillary Clinton whose strength was that “you knew she genuinely and sincerely wanted to make your life better and if you tried to stop her she’d kill you.”

Sen. Barack Obama is a “mesmerizing speaker” and although Barry wishes him well and believes “it’s too early to declare his administration a failure” because the office of the president seems to be very toxic, he advises Obama to remain president elect for years so we “can all just remain hopeful.”

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

"Keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer."

Eli Blake said...

As I pointed out in another thread, Obama in fact does want Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. So he did the one thing that will make her say yes:

He interviewed Bill Richardson the next day, making it clear that if Hillary says no then Richardson will get the job.

We well know how the Clintons feel about Richardson right now.

Ergo, she takes the job. Which is what Obama wanted by doing the one thing he could that would practically force her to say, 'yes.'

BJM said...

Bissage said...

YEAH . . . BOYEEE!!!


Stewart was a member of The Village People?!! Who Knew?

Glen said...

Hillary will never be President of the United States. This will be her last grasp at anything significant.

Hillary is 61. In 2016 she will be 69. America is not ready to for a Granny to lead them. Even if she is a Granny Whoop-ass.

Grandpa yes. Grandma no. It's not fair. But there ya go.

America does not look to old women for much of anything.

Palladian said...

"America does not look to old women for much of anything."

Except for Simon...

AJ Lynch said...

Is that change Obama promised still on the way? So far, his admin will be just the same old same old. It's looking like a 40 year grade-school reunion.

What say you Althouse?

Seven Machos said...

In my mind, it's still a fluke that Obama got the Democratic nomination, and I still predict a two-year run of failure of fairly epic proportions. Clinton would be really dumb to tie herself to this lead balloon. Further, the Senate is a powerful organization. Why leave it?

On the other hand, it's true that her presidential ambitions are probably over. She may not like legislation (and she does seem to have an executive -- some would some draconian -- personality). Perhaps she does understand that this is her swan song, and she's like to spend it as Secretary of State, for reasons that are hers.

I am flummoxed.

Seven Machos said...

America does not look to old women for much of anything.

Also, fruitcakes, quilts, quiet desperation.

SteveR said...

As I mentioned on an earlier post, Hillary might see this as a chance to exhibit what she feels are her superior abilities, now that president is likely gone. Senator was beneath her, but necessary.

I don't think there is much chance a SoS will ever be able to do much in the modern era but her ego is big enough that she might. Might.

If I had to bet, I'd say no.

Freeman Hunt said...

America does not look to old women for much of anything.

But we should. I like old women. I like old people in general. They are usually (with great exceptions) less arrogant, more equipped with life experience, and less interested in what other people think of them. At least that's what I like to think.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't know why Hillary would do this. Why bow down to be Obama's lackey? Defeated and tucked into the fold, a mere member of his staff? Nope, shouldn't do it.

jdeeripper said...

This is the Rush Limbaugh analysis:

Let's talk about Hillary and secretary of state. You know the old adage keep your friends close, your enemies closer? .... It's about making it impossible for her to run for the presidency again in 2012....


Rush is full of doodoo. Oops, wrong post.

Anyway, who really thinks Hillary would run against a incumbent Democrat President?

If she takes the job that means she must have done so on the promise that she can serve an 8 year term if Obama gets reelected.

She's not going to give up the Senate seat to serve a measly 4 years in that hopeless job.

dualdiagnosis said...

2 things, first why is this job offer to Hillary considered genius? What foreign policy experience, except for "dodging Bosnian sniper fire in '96" does she have?

Second, now that Obama will be prez, there will be one less African American in the Senate (unless he gives the nod to Jesse Jr) and now more white Clintons/Clintonites in the cabinet? We get a Dem prez and no more AA Sec of States?

Cedarford said...

Hillary is in a unique spot of awkwardness. Her star was on the rise ever since Monica Lewinsky gave her a sort of beatified victimhood. Her time in the Senate was divided between her fans making her multimillions on her books and "when" will she run??From 2000-2004, then from 2004 -2008 with her Senate peers and the public considering her the presumptive Nominee, then the Presumptive President-In-Waiting.

That all went to crap. Now she is just the Junior Senator from NY, a great degree of her clout in her Party gone. Unlikely to run unless some misfortune or horrific performance derails The One.

Now, this is a woman who wants to be considered as seriously as her husband is...that she too, was an impressive person...and even so, her options are limited.

No longer Head of Party, big fundraising would be more of the same old, same old. An Ambassadorship would be a fine way to admit she was finished as a force and being tucked out of everyone's hair.

The talk of a Supreme Court nomination is likely just talk, as even with likely votes there - the Republicans would exact payback for the Roberts, Alito smears. And there is lots to point out that would make Hillary an unsuitable Justice. Failed her DC Bar exam, never took a case through trial, wrote no law-related article since 1 year out of Yale, and functioned mostly as a schmoozer and influence-peddler in Arkansas. Plus the old scandals with Rose Law would come up, travel office firings...and extensive grilling on Constitutional Law she hasn't gone near in nearly 40 years.

Nor does a gig as Headmistress of a Prestigious Foundation or Think Tank work. The glory days of Foundation spending are gone for a while, and even with her good qualities, Mrs. Clinton has never been much thought of as a strategic thinker or competent executive manager.

But Secretary of State does offer her the full public limelight and a chance to join her husband as a Great Official & Statesman. She would be the one winning back the support of the rest of the world again. She would be the one in front of cameras if Obama commits to finalizing a ME Peace Settlement. She, not he, would "courageously" catch the crap of angry Zionist Settlers and Palestinian holdouts. She gives him a high-profile American to meet with foreign leaders and do the good or the stupid so he doesn't have to rush in like he pledged and look stupid..

Peter V. Bella said...

OH EFFING PLEASE!!!
Hillary Clinton is qualified for nothing. The only reason she is a senator is because Giulliani had to drop out of the race due to prostate cancer.

Hillary Clinton's whole so called public service career is a sham- there is no concrete evidence that she has ever done anything except in her autobiography. Her only major accomplishment was marrying Bill. That is it. Period. She is a sham, a charlatan, and a fraud.

She is also an Arabist and believes in the Palestinian causes. Israel beware if this woman is selected and approved.

Meade said...

zachary paul sire said...
"Be the Kennedy to his Carter"


Please not Carter again. Carter got exactly nothing right.

Revenant said...

The job is a political dead-end. On top of that, she's hilariously unqualified for it. So why the hell would she take it?

Bill said...

"Why in the world would a sitting Senator want to give up a lifetime of ease and security for a job that'll keep you awake nights?"

Given the state of the economy for the next couple of years, maybe being the Senator for New York City doesn't seem like that great a deal anymore?

Republican said...

So in the end, President Obama didn't bring about any change at all.

Building a coalition of enemies and opponents is hardly the change his supporters could have had in mind.

Having said that, where is Ms. Palin's place going to be?

If he is reaching across all boundaries, surely she deserves to be considered as well.

Her qualifications are equal to those of HRC.

Eli Blake said...

simon,

I hope he picks her and she goes to work as Secretary of State, just to prove that your 'interpretation' is yours, and yours alone.

So what would you do anyway? Sue to prevent her from taking the oath of office?

John Lynch said...

Secretary of State is a good place to put a token appointment into something that sounds important but isn't. DoD is far more powerful now.

Hillary Clinton would be far more powerful in the Senate.

dualdiagnosis said...

And C- What about the small matter of Hillary's view of Obama's plan to sit down and talk with the leaders of Iran, N Korea et al in his first year as "naive" and "reckless"?

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

My sense is that Hillary's goal is always to reach the highest-level position she can get to, and Secretary of State seems more prestigious than being a Senator. I think the in-character thing for her would be to want it. And you can't say she won't be able to run for President again if she's Sec of State because not that many former Sec's of State have run. This is Hillary. She is unique in U.S. history. You might as well say she can never run because no former first lady has ever successfully run for President.

The main argument against it is that there's no guarantee she'll hold onto the job for all eight years, or even four. She could find herself out of work, whereas she could virtually guarantee herself a spot in the Senate for as long as she wants to keep working.

Darcy said...

Well, I guess if Jewish Americans don't want people more sympathetic to Palestinian views as Sec. of State, they should largely stay away from electing Dems. Oops.

On the bright side, I think this is better than Justice Hillary.

AllenS said...

Re: Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

Something tells me that this would be Obama's first and biggest mistake, something he will live to regret.

laura said...

As the junior Senator from NY, she has very little influence there and nothing on the horizon for quite a while. It's also a more choice position than VP, I mean, what do they really do? Funerals - I think she has more ambition than that. And, she's already got a fairly decent domestic rep. It looks to me that she's actually expanding her resume.

J said...

I assume Hillary still wants to be the president, so I can't see her taking this unless she's positive The One will do something so insanely stupid and unpopular she'll appear to have a legitimate rationale for resigning in protest and running against him. Which could happen.

I agree with the poster above that 2012 is her last chance. She could probably run for re-election in 16, but not a first term.

William said...

I think it is interesting that-- even as a matter of speculation--no one advances the theory that Hillary wants the office because she thinks that she would be good at it and that she would be of service to her country in that position. The egoists who succeed in life are those that can convince themselves and others that their egoism fulfills some higher purpose of God.....I think this team of rivals thing works best when you have someone like Lincoln managing someone like Seward. Probably not so much with someone like Obama managing someone like Hillary.

Mark said...

And, by the way, I notice Presidents keep putting women in that slot. What's that about?

There hasn't been a white male Sec'y of State since Warren Christopher in 1996 and I doubt there will be another white male in that highly symbolic position for a very long time, if ever. In our era, once someone other than a white male gains a highly visible leadership position, it symbolically becomes the "property" of non-whites/women. To appoint a white man would be seen as reactionary and a regression to the bad old days. So since Christopher 12 years ago we've had a white woman, a black man, and a black woman. And now the leading candidate is a woman.

The only exception might be if the white man was widely known to be exceptionally left-wing and "progressive". But even then the "communities of color" would be likely to say he couldn't possibly represent them because he wouldn't understand their unique concerns. That's what's happened with the Superintendent of Schools positions in my area and in cities around the country, for example. Only blacks can hold those positions now, even though the cities are still majority white, because only blacks can understand those unique needs.

And now with Obama, people like Colin Powell have said that finally we have a President "for all of the people". See? A white man can't be a President for all the people, only a black man can.

We aren't entering a post-racial period; we're just entering a period where non-whites are beginning to get excited about their chances of sticking it to white people, especially white men.

Roger J. said...

Did Ms Clinton say recently that she does not plan to run for president in the future? Not that a politician's promise means all that much. And is it possible the Senate dems might dump Harry Reid for Hillary Clinton as Senate Majority Leader? Of course I am not a democrat, but Reid looks like a major woofdoof to me; there seem to about 40 democratic senators who are beetter than Reid, but thats just my libertarian take.

Since PE Obama has not even started his first term, it may be a bit premature to start speculating on what will happen during his administration.

Simon said...

Eli, you're forgetting standing. You couldn't sue before she was sworn in unless you had a plaintiff who would be injured by her mere assumption of office. Can't imagine who that could be. But once she's in office, each decision she makes has the potential to create plaintiffs.

And it's not just my opinion, by the way. All I'm doing is applying the position that the Department of Justice has consistently taken since 1883, and which it holds today, and applying it to Hillary's situation. The only questions are as to remedy, on which the (on which DoJ's precedents divide) and whether only pay raises enacted by statute offend the clause (on which there is no authority whatsoever).

Perhaps I'm wrong, but whether you like it or not, this isn't an issue that can simply be waved away.

MayBee said...

Does anybody suspect this is a set-up, so Dodd and Kerry can take her and Bill down for good in the confirmation hearing?

That's what I'd worry about, if I were her.

Barry said...

I'm just hoping that Obama's entire cabinet is not Senators and ex-Clinton staffers. Where's the originality? The change? The hope? So far, all I see is creeping cynicism, cronyism, and entrenchment.

And I'm an Obama supporter.

I don't see the win for Hillary here, but maybe there's something else in it that she likes. Maybe she's tired of the Senate. If the right really doesn't want her in that spot, they better turn down the rhetoric and just ignore it. Seems like the Clintons like a fight, and they usually do pretty well.

garage mahal said...

We well know how the Clintons feel about Richardson right now.

We do? Oh that's right.

AJ Lynch said...

Barry:

Is that you Barack?

Wouldn't be neat if we found out that George Bush or Obama was commenting on this blog?

MTfromCC said...

Interesting comments, as usual . . . obviously, the right wing and GOP are still in deep denial over this election.

Obama does not fear a Clinton challenge to his presidency in 2012 and this is not about keeping his enemies "closer". This about governance, gravitas and explotiing the best talen available to make for a more successful presidency at home and abroad. Obama's 2012 re-election campaign has numerous built-in advantages from the "get go", not the least of which are (1) the unbelievably sorry state of the economy at the point of the handoff from Bush to Obama, which will underscore the difficulty of the undertaking, and magnify any accomplishments on the economic front, (2) the mire in Iraq (against which Obama's "responsible withdrawal" will be seen as a long overdue necessity), (3) the instability in Afghanistan, against which Obama's short term escalation will be seen as an appropriate use of force, particularly if it is focused on killing Bin Laden, and removing key Al Qaeda and Taliban disruptive elements, and using diplomacy and force to keep Karzai and the more conciliatory elements of the Taliban on the same page, (4) the 52.5% majority that voted for him, which gives him a real basis to claim a mandate for change, (5) the middle class tax cuts that are near the top of his agenda, which will endear him to the largest bloc of voters out there, (6) all the overblown fear that has been built up around his so-called "inexperience" and the uncertainties of what he will do, which will have been alleviated by 3 years of service in office and actually doing what he says he will do (which he seems eminently capable of achieving), (7) the specificity of his proposals viz a viz energy and health care, which will make enacting legislation in those areas much easier to accomplish given his overwhelming electoral mandate, (8) the fact that he will be running for re-election as a sitting incumbent, with all the advantages that encompasses through the power of the White House to shape events and political campaigns, (9) Obama's ability to answer spontaneous questions articulately and thoughtfully, as contrasted with Bush's inability to string together a coherant sentence in response to a spontaneous question, will make Obama look that much better by comparison, and (10) the unprecedented cohesion of the Democrats, and the fact that Obama helped so many of them (and can help them in 2006 and after that) by injecting his charisma and enthusiasm (and his supporters) into their own campaigns makes it less likely for someone to challenge him from within his own party. Unless he proves to be Carter, which is supremely unlikely, he will be running from power, not from weakness, with all of his other gifts at his disposal. Thankfully, the financial meltdown occurred before Bush left office, so it can be laid squarely and unequivocally at the feet of those who are most responsible for it -- Bush and the GOP. Obama will not be balmed for it, but he will be credited if we are somehow able to pull ourselves out of it by November 2012.

I personally like the appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, particularly because the Senatorial committee assignment process seemed likely to relegate her to a secondary role in teh Senate, which would have been a slap in the face, and a waste or real talent and energy. Obama would be wise to choose tough, independent and experienced people in his cabinet, even if he has had differences with them. Like it or not, the most experienced people are those who were active in the Clinton adminstration, and we are likely to see a lot of them in th executive branch. But Obama's agenda will be at the center of what they do.

Much was made of the differences between Obama and Clinton during the campaign -- their battles had to be fought on personality issues and broader themes (who is the real agent for change, who really represents the status quo, etc.) because on policy issues, they were virtually indistinguishable. So, naturally, those who get off on being critical of Obama before his presidency even begins point to the possible appointment of Hillary (and other former Clinton administration officials) as somehow contrary to the meme of "change". Except, the reality is that Obama and Clinton have never stood against each other except insofar as they were in competition for the nomination to a single position, where they had to "compare and contrast" in order to make a case for the nomination. Hillary is and remains a key leader in the party, a key bridge to 1/3 or more of the Democrats who supported her in the primaries. the most important female leader in the USA, and someone who brings instant gravitas and enormous energy to the position. I applaud Obama for the willingness to make daring moves involving strong personalities, when the interests of the nation demand that we go beyond the ordinary to a different level. Whether she sees this as a challenge or something to avoid is her call. But his decision to make it available to her -- if indeed that is what is happening -- is a very good one.

dualdiagnosis said...

Obama- "America, this is our moment," the 46-year-old senator and one-time community organizer said in his first appearance as the Democratic nominee-in-waiting. "This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past."

Another Cintonista in Obama's cabinet-

Eric Holder as AG

dualdiagnosis said...

Think about it this way- Most presidents have spent time accomplishing things before they become president, they have friends, political allies and close business partners that they bring with them to DC. Obama comes in alone, the alliances he made early on he disowned, he has no close friends for these positions, he must rely on others.

dualdiagnosis said...

Wasn't Eric Holder involved in the Marc Rich pardons? Eric was also involved with the commutation of Weather Underground members sentencing, what is the deal with O and the WU?

jane said...

Yeah, but an old lady might be a refreshing change from all the limp d!cks suffering from erectile dysfunction, sending viagra stock sky high as they blow aneurysms wanking off to Victoria's secret catalog with the help of their extra strength reading glasses.