Sen Hillary Rodham Clinton may have lost the Democratic nomination for President in a bitter, name-calling battle with Barack Obama but that was then and this is now. On Monday, she becomes one of President-elect Obama’s top advisers as his choice for Secretary of State.
Sen. Clinton will join a Presidential cabinet that seems more Clinton than Obama because the President-elect has turned to a number of members of former President Bill Clinton’s administration to serve with the man who once promised change but now appears to want more of the same.
Hillary Clinton’s appointment raises more than one eyebrow in Washington. She and Obama have gone from once-bitter rivals to trusted confidants. He is turning to her for a high-profile job that could turn U.S. diplomacy into a Hillary Clinton road show.
Her appointment is just the latest twist in a round of Obama appointments that has many in Washington scratching their heads. From the retention of Bush Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to the naming of scandal-marred Eric Holder as Attorney General, Obama is raising the hackles of the left that supported him and confounded the right that opposed his election.
It wasn’t too long ago that Barack Obama and his advisers were tripping over one another to tear down Hillary Rodham Clinton’s foreign policy credentials. She was dismissed as a commander in chief wanna-be who did little more than sip tea and make small talk with foreign leaders during her days as first lady.
"What exactly is this foreign policy experience?" Obama said mockingly of the New York senator. "Was she negotiating treaties? Was she handling crises? The answer is no."
That was in March, when Clinton was Obama’s sole remaining rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Now, Clinton is on track to become Obama’s secretary of state.
And, unsurprisingly, the sniping at her foreign policy credentials is a thing of the past.
Obama adviser William Daley over the weekend said Clinton would be "a tremendous addition to this administration. Tremendous."
Senior adviser David Axelrod called Clinton a "demonstrably able, tough, brilliant person."
Last spring, though, Clinton was targeted with a steady stream of criticism via conference call, e-mail and campaign-trail digs from the Obama camp, all aimed at shredding her self-portrait as an experienced and confident leader on the international stage. Some of those doing the sniping will be taking up key positions — most likely along with Clinton — in the new Obama administration.
The Times of London has a take on this:
After a busy Thanksgiving holiday in Chicago, Barack Obama returns this week to the dramatic but potentially risky business of making presidential history. Never before has a president-elect proved so visible and voluble as he waits to enter the White House.
Fifty days before President George W Bush packs his bags for Texas, Obama has already usurped much of his predecessor’s authority. Yet in doing so he has exposed himself to early controversy that may seriously shorten the presidential honeymoon that most new incumbents enjoy. There are already stirrings of confusion and dismay among Democratic faithful perturbed by some of Obama’s early appointments.
More than a month before he takes the oath of office, President-elect Barack Obama already is testing the loyalty of his liberal base.
On Monday, he is expected to announce his national security team, which will include Robert Gates as his defense secretary, a carry-over from the Bush administration, and retired Gen. Jim Jones, who supported John McCain for president, as his national security adviser.
Liberal blogger Chris Bowers of The Open Left says the message sent by the selection of Gates undermines Democrats.
"The message would be clear," he writes in his blog. "Even Democrats agree that Democrats can’t run the military."
Obama’s outspoken opposition to the Iraq war before he became a U.S. senator was one of the reasons he was embraced early in the presidential race by the anti-war faction of the Democratic Party’s base, so his apparent decision to keep a Bush adviser as defense secretary for at least a year has raised some eyebrows within that faction.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s appointment this week as President-elect Barack Obama’s commerce secretary is being greeted with anger and disappointment by some who remember the former energy secretary’s role in the botched investigation and prosecution of scientist Dr. Wen Ho Lee.
In 1999, Richardson and several other Department of Energy officials publicly accused the Taiwanese-born Lee of stealing classified nuclear-related documents from the Los Alamos Laboratories.
Lee, who had been employed at Los Alamos for 21 years, was indicted and spent 278 days in solitary confinement. Meanwhile, the case became a national story as suspicions formed that Lee was performing espionage for the Chinese government.
In the face of insufficient evidence, Lee pled guilty to a substantially reduced charge and received a public apology from President Bill Clinton for his mistreatment at the hands of the federal government.