After it was reported that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama met this morning about a potential role for her in his administration, Mrs. Clinton addressed the rumors about her becoming the next Sec. of State, with a little humor at a transit conference in Albany, NY.
“I have to start by saying I am very happy there is so much press attention and interest in transit. Especially guesses about my own, but in the off chance that you’re not here for this important issue, and are here for some other reason, let me just say I’m not going to speculate or address anything about the president-elect’s incoming administration, and I’m going to respect his process, and any inquiries should be directed to his transition team,” Clinton said.
At first, I was more than a little surprised that the Obama team would be considering Sen. Clinton for State, but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Internationally, Hillary Clinton would bring instant credibility to Obama’s foreign policy. More importantly, she and Obama share an almost identical vision for the nation’s role as a diplomatic leader. When both were candidates, they each stressed a return to diplomacy. With her support of Obama during the general election campaign, she demonstrated that she is willing to be a team player.
This move is being pushed the Clinton loyalists in Obama’s transition team, but politically there are some potential negatives. Placing Sen. Clinton in such a high position within the administration might undercut the notion that Obama is bringing about change. Placing the Clintons so close to the White House lend the appearance that Obama is serving a third Clinton term. Secondly, Clinton isn’t known for her foreign relations experience. She is not an expert like Bill Richardson and Joe Biden. Speaking of Biden, it is clear that he is going to have a big role in foreign policy, and having two egos as large as Biden and Clinton working in the same area could pose an issue.
Politically speaking, if Clinton were to serve two terms at State in a successful Obama administration, this would be the perfect launching point for a future presidential run. This is definitely a consideration of the Clintonistas while they are pushing her for State. In the end, my gut tells me that Obama will probably go with a more experienced and lower profile foreign policy expert. I don’t think that he will choose Kerry or Clinton. Remember most of the Clinton supporters that are working on the transition won’t be serving in his administration. Right now, Obama needs experienced people to lead the transition, but if history is any guide, he will fill positions with his people.