Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Worldwide pantsuit

Hillary Clinton under consideration for Barack Obama's secretary of state? Believe it.

After an under-wraps meeting with President-elect Barack Obama in Chicago on Thursday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is now considered a top contender for the role of Secretary of State in the Obama administration, several people involved in the process said on Friday.

Clinton, in an appearance televised live on Friday, said she would not speculate about Obama's Cabinet selections. Her aides have referred questions about the process to the Obama transition team, whose officials are not commenting. Advisers warn that only a small handful of officials know for certain where Clinton ranks on Obama's short list, which also includes Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.

But one Clinton veteran who is in touch with the transition team called it a "real possibility." Another said she has a "very good chance" of getting the job. Most notably, Obama advisers have done nothing to tamp down speculation about Clinton, as they did when it became clear she would not be Obama's running mate -- even though letting her name hang in the air holds real risks for Obama if he ultimately does not select her, potentially reopening the Democratic primary's wounds.

The mere mention of Clinton's name has set off a frenzy of speculation about the advantages -- and disadvantages -- of selecting his former Democratic rival and former first lady, whom Obama passed over as his vice presidential running mate.
Are we witnessing the Clintonization of the Obama administration:

Obama's victory in the general election produced what his primary campaign couldn't: A swift merger of the Clinton Wing of the Democratic Party with the Illinois Senator's self-styled insurgency. The merger began, during the campaign, in the policy apparatus — which is now rapidly becoming the governing apparatus.

The absorption of the Clinton government in waiting represents Obama's choice not to repeat what he and his advisors see as an early mistake made by the last two presidents: Attempting to wield power in Washington through an insular campaign apparatus new to town.

Obama's first major appointments have been Democrats who worked for President Clinton and did not endorse him in the primary: Transition chief John Podesta and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who will be White House chief of staff, stayed neutral, and Ron Klain, who will be Joe Biden's chief of staff, backed Biden. Obama, advisers told Politico, may even be weighing offering Hillary Rodham Clinton herself the Cabinet plum of Secretary of State.

"Obama is showing great good sense in making use of their experience," said William Galston, a former Clinton domestic policy adviser who’s now at the Brookings Institution. "You have an entire cadre of people in their 30s and 40s and early 50s who were either in senior jobs or second- and third-tier jobs in the Clinton administration, who really earned their spurs and know their way around — and know something about how the institutions in which they served actually function."

Meanwhile, the WaPo's Chris Cillizza lays out the pros and cons of Clintonization. Number one "pro":

* Gravitas: Clinton is well-known and well respected in the international community. Is there any question that she could hold her own in delicate negotiations with our international friends or foes? The one thing that became indisputably clear during the Democratic primary race is that voters view Clinton as eminently qualified on nearly every issue. Putting her out as the administration's top diplomat would likely be received, nationally and internationally, as a solid choice.
Number one "con":

* A Free Lancer: As we noted above, the danger for Obama with regards to both Hillary and Bill Clinton is that they will pursue their own agenda -- political and policy-wise -- rather than advocate for the president-elect's preferred issues. While the chances of Clinton free-lancing are far less if she is a member of the Obama cabinet, there is absolutely no way of ensuring that her own views on matters of foreign policy would be subsumed in favor of those of the administration. Having Clinton on the world stage pursuing her own agenda would be potentially very problematic for Obama and, at that point, it would be impossible to put the toothpaste back into the tube.
And that's one hell of a con. Let's see how it all plays out.

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posted by JReid @ 3:31 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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