Articles

Secretary of State Clinton?

In Foreign Affairs, President Barack Obama, television on November 17, 2008 by Editor Z

The talk continues as it has since last week that President Elect Barack Obama is making overtures that seem to indicate that he is interested in making his former Democratic Primary opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) his Secretary of State.

Times of London:

The megaphone diplomacy coming from Hillary Clinton’s camp yesterday was loud and clear: she wants to be secretary of state and should “go for it”, according to her close friends and advisers.

As Clinton pondered her political future, the coterie known as Hillaryland had already begun celebrating the return of one half of the world’s most famous power couple to the global stage.

President-elect Barack Obama, her former rival and nemesis, had not formally offered Clinton the job but the word was it was “hers if she wants it” after the two met for private talks in Chicago. The appointment of Clinton, 60, as America’s top diplomat would be a dramatic coda to a presidential election that never lost its power to excite and surprise.

Hillary would ceal any lingering fractures in the Democratic party and would certainly be a familiar face, as she and her husband are immensely popular overseas, certainly compared to Bush/Cheney. It would certainly follow the “Team of Rivals” model that Barack Obama has constantly talked about. However though I am not versed in the ways of Washington D.C nor even the most finite details of policy this still strikes me as a strange choice. Maybe its because Hillary has always been more associated with Health care and domestic issues then with foreign policy (although as she demonstrated in the primaries she did prove she has the ability to have a good grasp on both). Then there are the litany of other complications; such as the past divisions between the two former opponents, Clinton’s own ambitions, and former President Bill Clinton’s penchant for travel as well as the business of his global initiative, and the required release of some records that Clinton during the Vice Presidential search seemed reluctant to disclose. In addition, Clinton has been critical on such planks of Obama’s Foreign policy as talks with Iran and has seemed less intent on ending the occupation of Iraq.You have heard all those reasons from the pundits hundreds of times already.

But at the heart of my lack of enthusiasm about the Clinton pick I think is as Marty Perez states with much more intensity, what I and I think the plurality of Americans cast our ballots a few weeks ago for Obama-Biden is so that we as Americans can move on from the past quarter century Bush-Clinton oligopoly on the presidency. Whatever you may think of Bill Clinton’s presidency, I think we need to move beyond these two families and need to move ahead. The Secretary of State after all is not the President or Vice President, but nevertheless is the top cabinet official of an administration, and the person who occupies that post is likely the most visible and powerful member of a President’s cabinet.

My preference for the position would be another often mentioned name and former Clinton cabinet member and early Obama backer, Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM). He is a seasoned diplomat and has a solid record in the arena of foreign policy. Richardson is Governor of a state so he knows how to run a big entity such as the U.S State Department. His experience is unquestionable with his voice of steady and productive realism, his already established relationships with foreign leaders both good and bad who he has encountered and dealt with in the past. Richardson’s extensive resume includes Congressman and Bill Clinton’s Ambassador to the UN (1997-1998). He also has experience as Energy secretary under Bill Clinton from 1998 to 2001, which will no doubt be useful as the subjects of energy and climate change will be on the agenda of the International community.

From a more crude political perspective, he is not a divisive figure who could cause a headache in conformation and in office.

Related:

Here are other cabinet picks:

> Outgoing Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) for Secretary of Defense

> Fmr congressional candidate, Iraq War Vet, and head of the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs Tammy Duckworth for Secretary of Veterans Affairs

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