The hottest news out of the transition game is the possibility of Hillary Clinton receiving the nod as Secretary of State. It is so hot that it has overshadowed the appointment of Eric Holder as Attorney General. The SoS is considered the most prestigious and influential post on any Presidential cabinet. The appointment would surely please most Clinton backers. She could play a much more active and influential role as SoS than she could as VP.
Is the rumor of the appointment overblown, as the rumor of her being picked as VP turned out to be, or is this the real deal? From everything I read, I think the offer has been made contingent on the results of the vetting process.
Marc Ambinder reports today, that the vetting has been, “ongoing, delicate, sensitive and private.” He also reports that Bill Clinton has gone out of his way to help the process. This is great news for those who think she would make an outstanding SoS.
The choice has not only drawn positive responses from the left, many on the right also like the idea. Michael Goldfarb writing in the Weekly Standard had this to say, “Clinton would be a fine Secretary of State…”
One of the reasons I suspect this rumor is true is that there appears to be real maneuvering for Clinton’s senate seat among New York Democrats. From the NY Times on Nov. 15th:
Two people with knowledge of Mr. Paterson’s thinking on the matter, who were granted anonymity so they could speak openly about internal discussions, said that the governor’s top advisers were aware that Mr. Obama was considering Mrs. Clinton for several days before it was reported by NBC News on Thursday evening. The governor believes there is a real possibility that he may have to make an appointment, these people said.
One last indicator; the current InTrade price that Hillary will become SoS is over 80%.
As I mentioned above, it looks more and more likely the offer has been made depending on the results of the vetting process. I wonder what Bill Richardson thinks about that? UN Ambassador Richardson? Ambassador-at-Large Richardson? Could he work under Hillary after his defection during the primaries?
There are two new articles in the NY Times dealing with this subject. One that promotes the idea that Clinton is the choice and one that posits that she is somewhat reluctant to accept the post.
The second article quotes an unnamed adviser to Senator Clinton.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has reservations about accepting an appointment as secretary of state in the Obama administration, an adviser to Mrs. Clinton who is familiar with her thinking said on Tuesday.
Then goes on to say,
The adviser described Mrs. Clinton as flattered by President-elect Barack Obama’s interest but said she was agonizing over the decision. Mrs. Clinton likes being her own boss and is reluctant to give up the independence that comes with that, said the adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process was at a delicate stage.
“If you are secretary of state you work for the president,” the adviser said in an e-mail response to questions from The New York Times. “If you are a senator, you work for yourself and the people that elected you.”
The article also spends quite a bit of time detailing how Clinton’s campaign debt may affect her decision.
The positive article repeats some of the information about former President Bill Clinton’s willingness to do everything he can to further his wife’s chances to become SoS. This article is also unsourced, quoting “Democrats close to the negotiation…”
The most interesting finding in this article is about the timing of any announcement. Apparently, Obama hopes to announce his national security team all at the same time instead of one by one. The timing could be over the Thanksgiving weekend.
As Mr. Obama’s aides negotiate with the Clintons, the transition team is also working to finalize the vetting on the positions of national security adviser and, perhaps, Defense secretary. Mr. Obama hopes to present the leaders of his entire national security team at one time, officials said Wednesday, rather than making individual announcements about each of the respective posts.
Initially, aides said, the announcement was planned to take place before Thanksgiving. But they said the prospects for meeting that timeline now seemed unlikely.
Jeffrey Goldberg writing on the Atlantic blog loves Hillary for SoS, mainly because of her support for Israel and her understanding of the Mid-East.
Her understanding of Middle East peacemaking is second-to-none, IMHO. Two years ago, I interviewed the front-runners for the Democratic nomination on a range of foreign policy issues. Obama was smart and savvy and reasonable and seemed to have, generally speaking, excellent judgment, but he was still unsteeped in some of the issues; Edwards was a dope; Clinton, however, was something of a wonder: her simultaneous mastery of the smallest details and of the biggest themes was beyond impressive. Her uncommon understanding of the Middle East could truly revive peacemaking.