Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Barack and Hillary, Together Again?

If the latest news reports are correct and Hillary Rodham Clinton joins Barack Obama's White House as Secretary of State, it would be a fascinating development in what has certainly been a long and winding -- and surprising --  trip for both figures. Talk about strange bedfellows.

The New York Times is reporting on its website tonight that former President Bill Clinton has agreed to a number of restrictions for his "future business and philanthropic activities" in order to the pave the way for his wife to become the nation's top diplomat.

Bill's relationship with Obama has been strained since he took on and pretty soundly defeated Hillary in a bruising and grueling primary. Full disclosure: I'm a big, big, big fan of Bill, but even I will acknowledge that he has not comported himself well, even when Hillary so graciously and completely threw her support behind Obama. 

Allow me a little pop psychology, but I think Bill is feeling guilty about stepping out on his wife back in the day, and figured the only thing that could make up for it was by getting her into the Oval Office. Now that dream seems gone -- if she were to run again, she would be faced with the near impossible challenge of beating an incumbent President in the primaries or wait eight years, by which time she will be pushing 70.

All this may be why all indications are that Hillary has ruled out another run at the White House -- she has even publicly said she won't run in 2012.  So, it would make sense then that she would consider a high-level job in Obama's White House -- an idea that until the last few weeks seemed near impossible to picture.  

Yet, there is still much debate on whether Hillary would or should take the position.  There are valid reasons for both arguments.  Secretary of State is a powerful position to be sure but she would be giving up her seat in the Senate, where she has a great deal of influence and would be considered as a candidate move up to a senior senate position, now that Robert Byrd has announced he's stepping down as Senate pro tempore for the next Congress.  (Note to Al Haig: that's number three in the line of succession, one spot before S.O.S.).  

I think a lot of this depends on what she wants to accomplish.  Certainly Hillary could cement a legacy away from the shadow of her husband as Secretary of State.  Reshaping the world and America's place in it after eight years under George Bush's ideologically-motivated and arguably failed Neo Conservative agenda,  would seem as daunting a challenge as rescuing the nation from a recession.

After all, the U.S. is involved in two wars, Islamic Fundamentalism is stronger than ever and Osama Bin Laden is still out there. There are fences to be mended among our friends and peace to be brokered with enemies and having a smart, strong, respected, independent force as S.O.S. is imperative. Whatever you think you know about Hillary,  she has a keen world view, developed in part, not only by her time as a Senator, but also from her experience as First Lady -- she's literally dined with kings and presidents. And whatever you say about Bill, it sure can't hurt to have as a sounding board, a two-term President who was beloved, not only in his own country, but all over the world -- and still is thanks to his philanthropic endeavors. 

If Obama's White House succeeds in righting the crippling errors of the last administration, it will be in large part to the key members of his cabinet -- State and Defense especially -- and also to Vice President Joe Biden, a foreign policy heavyweight.  Having Hillary Clinton has one-third of this triumvirate would seem to me to be an advantage.

UPDATE: It's apparently unofficially official -- Hillary has, according to the New York Times, accepted the post as Secretary of State.  Well, this should be a fascinating four years, not to mention the final nail in the coffin to the PUMA contingent. RIP, nutjobs.

No comments: