By putting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton into one of the top jobs of his new administration, President-elect Barack Obama is — depending on who you talk to — making a brilliant tactical move or his is putting a fox in his henhouse and there won’t be any eggs on the table in the morning.
During the bitter campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination, Obama often held Clinton up as an example of the outdated politics of the past. In the parimay, ge campaigned as much against the excesses of her husband’s Presidency as on those of Geoge W. Bush.
Now he has Hillary Clinton by his side in a deal that is supposed to also muzzle the former President and limit his role on the international stage.
Veteran Clinton watchers say nobody can control Bill Clinton or his wife and the Obama-Clinton marriage is doomed to failure.
Leaving the news conference in Chicago yesterday where he introduced his national security team, President-elect Barack Obama strolled out of the room arm in arm with his choice for secretary of state and onetime rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The gesture may have been a subtle indication that Obama is aware that one of the biggest questions about his choice of Clinton is the kind of relationship they will be able to forge in the months ahead.
Many of the most successful secretaries of state, though not all, enjoyed great influence with the presidents they served, giving them crucial leverage with foreign leaders and inside the national security establishment. But Obama and Clinton are only starting to develop the kind of rapport that could lead to that trust, and the ultimate success of the senator from New York in her new role may depend as much on Obama’s willingness to admit her to his inner circle as her ability to master the intricacies of the Middle East peace process or North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, according to senior foreign policy officials from past administrations.
Democrats familiar with the transition said the two have spent time over the past several weeks discussing the parameters of the job and how they would work together: Clinton received assurances that she would have the kind of access to Obama she needs, as well as the authority to pick her own team. They said the Obama team would like her to select James Steinberg as her deputy, but that hardly seems a problem, since Steinberg worked closely with her husband in the Clinton White House as deputy national security adviser.
Ironically, Steinberg recently co-authored a book raising questions about the wisdom of appointing "all-stars" — foreign policy experts and prominent members of Congress with little connection to the new president — in key national security jobs. While such appointments can help foster a sense that a new president has made the transition from campaigning to governing, Steinberg and co-author Kurt M. Campbell pointed to numerous examples of the appointments leading to discord and disappointment, especially in the Clinton administration.
Apparently, Obama began considering Clinton for the past right after the election. Reports The Associated Press:
Barack Obama had his eye on Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state for some time, but it took some serious courtship before the two took their relationship to the next level Monday.
Clinton’s nomination as secretary of state came after concessions from both sides — Clinton got assurances that she could name her own staff at the State Department, and former President Bill Clinton offered to take steps to prevent any conflict of interest in his international dealings while his wife would be the country’s top diplomat.
The nomination is the latest chapter in a complicated relationship between Clinton and Obama. The two struggled bitterly over the Democratic nomination, with Clinton persisting in her fight against Obama even when her prospects for victory were virtually dead. The hard feelings softened during the general election when Clinton campaigned in support of Obama and finally they have settled on a boss-employer relationship that would have been almost unimaginable when the presidential race began.