Obama selects Hillary – Gutsy move? Or doomed to Failure?

I don’t usually follow Shmuel Rosner. I’m not sure why, it’s more a lack of chemistry with his writing style and ideas than any ill feelings about him. Today he published an interesting essay in Slate where he claims that only wishful thinking accepts that Hillary as Secretary of State in Obama’s Presidency will work. He says there are so many obstacles to a successful working relationship that it’s unlikely that they will succeed in working together effectively. He concludes by noting that perhaps they each believe that the can drive forward together pragmatically to success.

I guess I’m one of those with rose-colored glasses. It seems to me these two people were among two of the finest candidates for President who we’ve seen run for this office in a very long time. They are intelligent, knowledgeable and clearly able to read other people and find ways to work with them. They are also both driven by a sense of mission to help the United States. I can’t imagine that they won’t act in a mature way and as a team. In fact, I bet they have already discussed how this relationship was going to work and my supposition is that Hillary accepted that Obama has the last word.

Rather than be afraid at having strong people at the top, it is precisely the confidence Obama is showing in putting in strong people into critical slots in his administration, that makes me believe his objectives are positive and that he intends to succeed at working with these people as partners not as underlings.

Everybody recognizes just how much repair work has to be done to undo some of the massive errors of the last few years. Having a strong President with weak underlings is not the recipe for success when the challenges are so great and so many in number.

I think Obama and Hillary will work swimmingly well together.

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  • It’s startling that Barack’s prepared to outsource foreign and defense policy (Hillary, Bob Gates et al.), but we should wait on his choice of national security adviser before reaching conclusions. As for Hillary– a far better choice than Kerry or Richardson, but can anyone look back on her husband’s foreign policy as a success?

  • I think one of the things that people underestimate (and have underestimated quite a bit in Obama) is the degree to which credibility is built on your picks — not only in terms of the competence and capability of each pick, but in terms of the credibility they give you to act in ways that many people wouldn’t take seriously otherwise. The biggest issue here during the primaries was about Hillary’s perceived hawkishness (and/or “experience”) versus Barack’s. With Hillary in at State, though, any foreign policy move by Obama, whether “hawkish” or “dovish” in appearance, will be treated more seriously than it would have been otherwise – just because you’re used to taking her more seriously and because of her history of hawkish posturing/positioning. Does anyone here really disagree with that?

  • And I’ve got to agree with Tom on the Clintons’ history in the foreign policy arena. I’m sure that not all their moves were disasters, and B.C. was wise enought to keep Richard Holbrooke clse, but my picture of the Clintons at State in the Obama administration features Bill Clinton masturbating furiously to fantasies of himself in Oslo accepting a Nobel Peace Prize with Ismail Haniyah. Of course, he claimed to have learned his lesson regarding Palestinian intransigence after Camp David, but really, who believes that Bill Clinton is an honest person? And we’re to assume that his closest political protegee will be?

    That said, I think Hillary’s patriotic and clever enough to not turn her stint there into a disaster, and will likely do her best to make it a successful gig. But let’s be honest, half of all this and the anticipated success behind it is based in appearances – which just goes to show you that no matter how hard one protests, image can always count for something more important than one might suppose it should.

  • At least, at the Department of State it is. Let’s face it, the mission of the State Department is primarily to raise the stature of America’s image in the world, isn’t it? There can be a heavy dose of diplomatic creativity involved as well, which I think Clinton will probably do well at. But I can’t really think of the last Secretary of State who really played as heavy a role in actually crafting policy other than Kissinger. And before that, George Marshall. Not too many. It’s a plum job, but as long as the details are devised beforehand, the job is pretty much to carry them out, as Middle seems to suggest. Clinton will have a good deal to contribute about the sorts of things which she carried out in the form of diplomatic missions during her husband’s administration, but I don’t think she or anyone in the office for that matter needs to be a Cardnial Richelieu at this point. Obama probably knows pretty much where he wants to go. That said, thank G-d, he didn’t pick John Kerry or Bill Richardson – who is a consummate tool, BTW, and who apparently owes a lot of tribute to the Clintons anyway.

    It’s a good pick, and should be an interesting one to watch.

  • Secretary Rice is on her way to Mumbai.  That is what I call dedication to Country.  If I was the lame duck Secretary, I’d be on my way to a Sarah Palin style shopping spree rather than to the site of a terrorist massacre.  That is not a cushy job, no matter who holds it.