Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State?

Posted by Katherine | November 20, 2008 – 4:57 pm

The wildfire rumor of the transition so far: whether Obama will pick Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Political junkies are speculating about Machiavellian strategizing in the Clinton and Obama camps, about the possible effect on Clinton’s chances in 2012 or 2016, and, oh yeah, even about whether the choice would be good for the country. Here’s a hint of the range of conversation.

Pseudopop (check him out here and here) shows Obama looking somewhat bewildered by recommendations from anonymous advisors:

Cartoon of Hillary as Secretary of State
[pseudopop / Flickr]

Heather from prTini — “1 part real-life PR, 1 part pop culture, 1 part politics… shaken, not stirred” — is on the fence about the whole idea:

I’m torn — not sure if this is good or not. I think Hillary could be a great leader in the Senate, helping Obama pass legislation that will help this country right the ship. But, at the same time, I also believe she could be a great diplomat as being repairing our international reputation.

Cindy Kilkenny from Brookfield, Wisconsin, calls herself Fairly Conservative. (”To a sufficient degree; in an evenhanded manner.”) She’s a mom and housewife with a thing for the outdoors and local politics. Cindy notes that many of Obama’s picks and rumored picks have close ties to the Clinton administration. It makes her skeptical:

Now I know BO, doesn’t have a lick of experience, but didn’t he win on the idea of Hope and Change? I’m not seeing a lick of hope out there. Change looks a lot like changing back.

Brad Neese loves his home state of Oklahoma. Also, as a big man, the double-entendre of his blog title: Living Large. Brad feels noncommital about Hillary as Secretary of State but does like the principle of Lincoln’s “team of rivals.” What concerns him most is what appeals to certain conservatives:

What’s mildly surprising is the level of growing support amongst the right-wing punditry. The Weekly Standard’s Michael Golfarb certainly seems to like the choice:

“[…]Clinton would be a fine Secretary of State, and she is likely to be a nuisance to Obama whether she is inside or outside of his administration […] And perhaps she could even present the case for war with Iran to an insubordinate United Nations in the event that Obama’s personal diplomacy somehow fails to deter the mullahs from their present course.”

Something in his last sentence jumped out at me: “…perhaps she could even present the case for war with Iran…” Seriously… have we not had enough of war to satisfy our blood thirst at least for a little while? We’re not even finished with the two we’ve got going on right now, which is bankrupting us and stretching our military to the breaking point.

Moving on to the political calculations: Probutcool blogger digby points out that the Clintons “simply drive some people crazy” — and he believes that may be exactly what Obama is counting on:

I actually think Obama may be picking her for this purpose. She can absorb all the looney criticism from the right and the Village and he can go about his business above the fray. It’s actually smart to give them someone else to hate. And if the Clintons are good at anything, it’s being hated and successful at the same time. Indeed, they seem to thrive on it.

This works out for everyone.

The Cajun Boy, “a simple boy from the bayous of Louisiana turned Manhattanite,” really just doesn’t like the Clintons. Though he’s tried to. That said, he recognizes that they’re “widely adored abroad and have deep roots with many governments and existing world leaders.” So Hillary as Secretary of State could be a “smart move.” He also feels it’s a win for Obama — based on what would happen during nomination hearings:

One of two things will then happen…either they comply and become punching bags for the right-wing when she goes before the Senate, thus scoring some political leverage for Obama over that faction (they only have so many bullets in their gun and would probably exhaust them all on the Clintons), not to mention that it would force the Clintons to open all the doors and turn on the lights in their financial house for the world to see. The other thing that could happen is that the Clinton’s refuse to comply with the demand for full-disclosure, thus allowing Obama to kick her to the curb with little or no repercussions.

Hal is a retired journalist in North Carolina who blogs to scratch his punditry itch. He thinks Hillary as Secretary of State may be lose-lose for Clinton and Obama:

[D]uring the Democratic primary campaign, Clinton’s claims of foreign policy expertise were ridiculed. Yes, she accompanied her husband on trips around the world and made a few trips without him. She met some heads of state. But, truth be told, she had no official capacity or authority. She didn’t negotiate any treaties or referee any international disputes. And as for coming under “sniper fire” in Bosnia, well … let’s just say that lying is not an asset for a diplomat. Clinton’s sometimes abrasive and divisive style seems ill-suited to the task of sensitive diplomacy. […]

Clinton might recognize that she can do far more in the Senate as, essentially, her own boss than she can as implementer of Obama’s policy. She has won kudos for her work in the Senate, and she has proven her electability. That is probably more valuable to her than an appointment as secretary of state, a stressful, burdensome job with no real political future.

And turning now from political calculus to conflicts of interest: Carley Eason Evans is a speech pathologist in South Carolina. She wonders why everyone is fussing about the vetting process:

Seems rather odd to me that suddenly, Hillary Clinton has to be vetted because she might be considered for the appointment of Secretary of State. What, pray tell, would have happened if the Democrats had selected her as their candidate for the presidency of the United States? Would we not have had the SAME issues with Bill Clinton’s connections around the world?

Good question, and surely yes.


  1. One Response to “Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State?”

  2. It would actually be interesting if she ended up secretary of state . hmmm got me thinkin . I mean its not like she dnt know what she is doin . She knows . She is stronge and confident . They both are . As of right now America the beautiful … she needs work . and with nothing less than the best in the white house is more than deserving for the people . Me

    By Dinah Fires on Nov 20, 2008

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