November 19th, 2008
05:09 PM ET

Clinton pick would be brilliant, but risky, move

Editor's Note: Steve Clemons is director of the American Strategy Program of the New America Foundation and publisher of the influential political blog, The Washington Note. He has served as executive vice president of the Economic Strategy Institute and as senior policy adviser on economic and international affairs to Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico.

Steve Clemons
The Washington Note

Hillary Clinton? Secretary of state? What is Barack Obama thinking?

This rock star president-elect may either be confused, deluded and self-destructive in sculpting a political and policy team that has a high probability of paralyzing itself in vicious internal skirmishes, or he may just be brilliant - really, really brilliant.

Rahm Emanuel, considered by many to be the most thuggish (and effective) of the Democratic machine's partisans, is Obama's chief of staff.

Joe Lieberman, disloyal former Democrat who headlined the Republican National Convention calling GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin "strong. . .compelling...competent!" will keep his place in the Senate Democratic caucus - as well as his powerful perch as Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security.

While not yet announced, indications increasingly point to Bush administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates being rewarded for out-Cheneying Cheney, having vital stewardship over America's complex Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan portfolios and thus staying on as Obama's Defense chief.


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Raw Politics
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. missy

    This is a much better spot for her than Vice President.

    November 19, 2008 at 5:57 pm |
  2. Uma in Liverpool, UK

    I have a question similar to Surendra Nair's.

    Senator Clinton was vetted, and deemed fit to run for President of the USA. What could possibly be more thorough than that? Is Barack Obama's re-vetting of both Senator Clinton and the former President really necessary? It seems like overkill to me...

    She passed the same vetting-process Obama did, himself. If he has decided that was inadequate, I would like to know why.

    As to the brilliance of appointing Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State, you enumerated all the good reasons why she could be an asset.

    Obama seems to believe in 'keeping his friends close, and his enemies closer'. Actually, Senator Clinton does not make a plausible Presidential candidate, past 2012. She is already 62, and the double-standard about 'old women' is still Out There. I doubt Senator Clinton would be interested in the ardours of the campaign trail, another time.

    The Secretariat of State is an esteemed position, albeit temporary, and she could make her mark in history, and move on to write a few books, and join the ranks of people like Madeline Albright - Elder Statespeople, which Hillary Clinton is already - but as Junior Senator from NY, is hardly recognised as such.

    I know some people think Obama is 'Clintonising' his Cabinet. Come ON, people, think! How many highly qualified Washington Insiders are there, who are Democrats, who were not connected with the Clintons? Be serious. For positions which do not require Washington Insider qualifications, I am certain Obama will look elsewhere.

    November 19, 2008 at 5:57 pm |
  3. Teriss

    Anderson, Obama is making up for not chosing Hillary as Vice President, but this is a step down for Hillary's capabilities.
    I think she would do it simply to help the country, as a sense of duty but it would mean the end of her running in 2012.

    It did not go over well with the female vote, after the primaries that he picked Biden. Now this may be a demeaning offer for her.

    He would be foolish if he did not chose her for SOS, but she would be equally foolish if, she has the intention of running again.

    What if Sarah Palin is the GOP ticket for 2012, and what if Obama is seen as a failure in his first term?

    If I were Hillary I would respectfully decline.


    November 19, 2008 at 5:49 pm |
  4. Kathi Fullerton Calif.

    Seeing all the choices being made or pondered by Obama, I feel there will be no change, I knew it anyway. Campaign promises are rarely kept, most of them could not be but voters believe what they want to believe.

    November 19, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  5. Surendra Nair

    There is this whetting process around Bill Clinton if Hillary is to be Secreary of State.

    What would have been the impact if she had been elected President?


    November 19, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  6. Cindy

    I think making Hillary the Sec of State may be brilliant because she is well known and well liked overseas. But it may also be risky because she will undoubtedly at times overshadow Obama. Can he handle that is the question?


    November 19, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  7. Sandra

    Brilliant???? How are any of Obamas choices CHANGE? Clinton leftovers, and now the Clintons themselves.

    November 19, 2008 at 5:22 pm |

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