No way. No how. No SecState.

By Diego Del Campo


It’s now officially been a week since word leaked from the less-than leak-proof Obama transition team that Sen. Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner for the Secretary of State position in the Obama administration. The flurry of media reports since have been spotty, at best—some alleging she’s already accepted and others hinting she may actually decline. Whatever the truth may actually be—I was, like probably everybody else, surprised by this move by Obama—I really think that regardless of his “change” message during the past two years of his campaign, he’s now as president-elect moving on to put together the most competent administration in ages, certainly the best in the last decade.

Hillary as secretary of state? I have two positions:

First, and foremost, naturally, I think Hillary would an extraordinary Secretary of State, and because of her stature coming off the primaries, where she campaigned on her preparedness and knowledge of international affairs, she would be in a better position than all of the other names floating around to fill the shoes of the nation’s top diplomat, to negotiate—play hard ball—and go toe-to-toe with the world’s leaders; and stepping in, she’d have more clout on the international stage as a recognized world leader than Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, or Condoleezza Rice had when they were appointed. Plus, she’s already had years of diplomatic experience as a backdoor diplomat as First Lady and in diplomatic missions as a U.S. Senator. Also, Hillary’s ascension to the top post in the Obama cabinet would be the just deserts to all the Obama-supporting Hillary-bashers who publicly trashed Hillary and her supporters during the primaries. People like Chris Matthews (who’s still trashing her). People like Keith Olbermann. People like all the left-wingers at blogs like the Daily Kos, who during the primaries, were the most toxic, cannibalistic progressives around. Now, these people have to either defend Hillary or question the infallible judgment of their chosen one. (I love it.) Roil, roil, roil indeed.

But, alas, as much as I think Hillary would be a great addition to the Obama administration, personally, I don’t want her to accept the job. I think she’s a national leader in her own right—one with 18 million votes behind her—with a platform for healthcare, children, women, the working class, and minorities; I think she would be giving up too much. Yet, it saddens and disappoints me to hear that she’s being road-blocked in the Senate and not being allowed to so much as share credit with Ted Kennedy (although that may be changing). A post in the Obama administration would instantly elevate her national stature, but at the cost of giving up a lot of the issues that are near and dear to her heart, not to mention her secure Senate seat, and potential future in the Democratic party and governing majority Democratic-controlled Senate. Finally, to put it bluntly, I don’t want her to be reduced to an Obama minion—one with symbolic, rock star wattage, but no real voice. I don’t want her to get blamed for any faux pas, or false starts of the Obama administration or to become a scapegoat for the activist left when or if the Obama administration loses its luster. I think she should stay in the Senate, and, in time, carve her own piece of history there—she’s already deeply admired by her colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, she doesn’t need this job, frankly. I hope Hillary says, “Thanks, but no thanks.”



Filed under Democratic Party, Obama

2 responses to “No way. No how. No SecState.

  1. Shawn_Scanlon

    Clever title. 😉

    Generally agree here; I’m not as much opposed to the idea of a Clinton nomination to SecState as much as preferring that Hillary stay out of the executive branch.

    Obama is trying to create an environment/perception of inclusion, which is nice, but I’d rather see the two of them work across branches, rather than inside of one.

    In my opinion, Hillary had the better Healthcare plan of the two, so yeah, I’d like to see her lead on the issue in the Senate.

    Of course, I’d like to see HR 676 as the healthcare law of the land, but I’d rather talk about things that could actually happen; if we’re talking reality, Clinton has to be the one to lead the charge.

  2. Tony Robinson

    Great post Diego, and great articles that you link to. I especially like your “roil, roil, roil” comment and the links there. I learned a lot from reading this, and think your analysis shows depth and subtlety.

    I agree with all your insights about the strengths would bring to the Sec of State position, and am intrigued by your analysis of Hillary’s uneasy position of power within the Senate (will they change Seniority rules for her?) that she would have to give up to become Sec of State. Yes, that would reduce her to a “minion” and seriously diminish her ability to lead on any domestic issues like health care.

    Still, I don’t think Hillary will answer Obama’s call from a purely strategic or political standpoint, should he offer her the job. I believe that when the president offers you a job of such stature and calls you to serve the country with him in a vital way, when then you have to take the job, whether you are Hillary or not. I don’t think there’s many cases of people turning down such presidential offers– its one of those offers you can’t refuse. It’s like being drafted into service by the commander in chief and it would be a rare personality who would flee to Canada (or the Senate) under such conditions. I am sure Hillary might be able to send signals under the radar screen that she really doesn’t want the job, if she is set against it, and Obama would likely respect such signals. But if in fact Obama makes it clear to her that he wants her to serve with him in this way–she will have little choice but to accept the call to duty, and she will serve.

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