Friday, November 14, 2008

Hillary to Foggy Bottom?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The latest juicy morsel of speculation coming out of The Transition, or at least making its way around Transition watchers, has to do with Hillary being a candidate for Secretary of State. Here's WaPo:

There's increasing chatter in political circles that the Obama camp is not overly happy with the usual suspects for secretary of state these days and that the field might be expanding somewhat beyond Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.), Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and maybe former Democratic senator Sam Nunn of Georgia.

There's talk, indeed, that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) may now be under consideration for the post. Her office referred any questions to the Obama transition; Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to comment.

Well, okay, though I'd prefer to have Hillary in the Senate working on, say, health care reform.

I still think it'll be Kerry, who clearly wants the job, who would provide progressive leadership on U.S. foreign policy, and who would be an effective counterweight to the more hawkish, Republican-lite Democratic foreign policy establishment with which Obama has surrounded himself (Richard Holbrooke, another possibility for the job, et al.). I don't mind Richardson, but there's just too much of the bumbling fool about him, and Hagel... well, as much as I admire him for his tough stand against the Iraq War, he's still a conservative Republican.

At MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell reports that Tom Daschle could be a "compromise choice." I didn't think much of him when he was Senate majority leader, but his support for Obama, from early on, was impressive, and I think he'd be an asset to the Obama Administration. I just don't think he's right for State.

As for Hillary, I just wonder how effectively she and Obama would be able to work together. At Politico, Mike Allen reports that she may be "the favorite," and that appointing her to State "would create the ultimate 'Team of Rivals' cabinet, according to officials involved in the discussions." Fair enough, and, indeed, there is certainly a lot to recommend her -- not least her foreign and military policy experience, her engagement in world affairs, and her undeniable stature and credibility. And it would certainly be a news-dominating pick, overshadowing the rest of the Transition and Obama's other Cabinet appointments. (For more, see Taylor Marsh, who makes a good case for her.)

I'd be happy with either Kerry or Hillary. I've been leaning towards Kerry, given that I'm closer to him on policy, but the thought of an Obama-Hillary foreign policy team, if it is at all workable, is rather appealing.

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