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.”