Saturday, November 22, 2008

Is this a good idea?

The Clintons, Hillary especially, have always struck me as the type of people who put themselves first, by a wide margin. Hillary Clinton seems to be cast from the same mold as folks like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. In other words, if a television light goes on anywhere in America, she'll bust a gut to get in front of it. One has to wonder, now that it appears very likely she'll be President-elect Barack Obama's choice for secretary of state, whether it's even possible for Hillary to act as part of a team. Can she take orders from someone else? Can her husband keep his mouth shut? Can she share credit for accomplishments and blame for failures? Perhaps Obama thinks she's really the best choice for the job. Perhaps he wants to have his chief political rival close, in order to keep an eye on her and dim the chances of her emerging as a challenger in 2012. Whatever the case, I'd bet that it's a just a matter of time before some drama breaks out.



Blogger Roger said...

Brant, I agree with much of what you say. When the story first broke about the possibility of S of S, I said "no way." After more thought, the idea began to have more merit. She is well-known, and connected through the international scene (read: Bill hanging around close). But, there are so many downsides. She has a strong personality, seemingly unwilling to accept another viewpoint. The role of the S of S involves conflict, much conflict. And, the consequences of those conflicts aren't merely taking a political hit.

Frankly, I was surprised to learn that she would even consider the situation. Your "camera," "facetime" assessment is right on target. A S of S role would not get her this face time. Or, she would somehow manage to make the role into one (how much of C. Rice do we see on TV, ...not much, ... the situation as presents itself, or Rice's choice, ...?). Perhaps the best mark of an effective S of S is staying out of the limelight, staying off the TV screens. Doing work behind the scenes is probably more effective.

The other part of the story is her ability (or inability) to stay out of the political scene. She would no longer be able to participate in fund-raising, campaign rallies, or similar. That just seems like a far too big of gap to bridge. She relishes the political scene so much, it would be a huge step to give that up.

One more thing that has only been reported one place (that I have seen). Since the S of S role would forbid political work, her $7M campaign debt would have to be picked up by the government election agency (or whatever it is called). In other words, her large campaign debt would be an immediate payment to cover the debt. Perhaps this is why Obama didn't choose to negotiate covering her $7M debt after the Dem Convention. Maybe he knew this scenario would work itself out this way, so he had no incentive to follow previous protocol to cover an opponent's debt. Why should he pay, if it is possible to have others cover the debt?

There is also the difference in foreign policy ideas between Clinton and Obama. How would she handle "carrying water" for Obama on ideas she didn't embrace herself? Rice apparently has been able to do this for GWB, but I'm not sure Clinton could do the same kind of work for Obama.

And, then there is Bill. His connections around the globe would be good, even though he would not be in an official capacity. He could open doors that other might not. However, what about all the undisclosed financial contributions to his Foundation? This could be a major problem, one that isn't known right away. What happens if five years in the future, somehow all the connections are uncovered and inappropriate influences are exposed? This could be a wound that won't heal.

Bottom line for me: She will be the new S of S, but the marriage won't last very long (less than two years).

Obama will fill the cabinet posts, but I expect some volatility in the first couple of years. It will take awhile to find the team that is pulling in the right direction. That is no knock of Obama, but rather that's how personality conflicts, policy differences, etc. work themselves out early in a new Administration.

I am quite surprised that Obama has chosen many DC insiders, former Clintonites, etc. in his early appointments. His "change" mantra has already been shown to be political rhetoric, nothing of substance. He really showed his hand in this regard when picking Biden as a running mate. However, having said that, his choices of those with former experience may be a stroke of genius, showing us that he recognizes his lack of experience. I have always said the choice of those close to the President is very, very important, more important that what the candidate himself has to say or propose. Any strong leader is marked by the ability to find good people to work, and to delegate to those people. The principle has broad application, including an Administration.

November 22, 2008 at 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, Obama just wants to keep a close eye on Hillary. And he's being particularly prudent by making it a disqualification to own a gun in his administration. Perhaps he's remembering what happened to Vince Foster.

November 22, 2008 at 10:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She's better than Kerry or Richardson, but isn't there someone better than all three? Al Gore, maybe?

November 23, 2008 at 5:27 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

He could potentially win another Nobel Prize and have a lovely set of bookends.

November 23, 2008 at 8:28 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

When I hear Hillary make a speech, I hear a screaming, whiny, shrewish bitch. She has no tact, no class, and I can't see how she would be anything but a hindrance in the position of secretary of state.

How long do you think that psychopath leader of Iran would be willing to sit and talk with Hillary before he wanted to shove one of his new nuclear weapons up her caboose?

I agree that there has to be someone better. And unfortunately it can't be Gore. All that traveling would just destroy the ozone layer, thereby ending his bid for another Nobel Prize...which in my opinion lost all of its luster when they gave it Gore in the first place.

Brant, I love the way you say that the minute a camera or microphone comes on that she and JJ and Big Al are right there. It's so true. And Roger, thank you for pointing out that Obama's mantra of change is nothing more than rhetoric used to win an election.

Anyway, the bottom line is that she's NOT a team player, she needs to be the focus of all the attention, and I really think that Billy will be a hindrance to her and the position as well.

November 23, 2008 at 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad Colin Powell got used up by Bushie.

November 24, 2008 at 1:07 PM  

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