15 nov. 2008

Obama's Team of Rivals

By Jacob Heilbrunn, Huffington Post
If Barack Obama asks Hillary Clinton to become Secretary of State, it would be a brilliantly audacious political move. Choosing Clinton would elate her fans, soothing any lingering bruised feelings, and bring some major star power to the State Department. Clinton would possess real clout and, like Obama, serve as a kind of ambassador to the world. It would also show that Obama, like Abraham Lincoln, who, as the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin showed in her book "Team of Rivals," is unafraid of tapping powerful cabinet members.

But would it be good for American foreign policy? Would it be consistent with the kind of change Obama promised on the campaign trail? Clinton's record is markedly different than Obama's. She supported the Iraq War. In 2006, she supported legalizing the torture of an individual who knows about an "imminent threat" to millions of American, but backpedaled on the idea in September 2007. In April 2008, she said the U.S. could "totally obliterate" Iran if it threatened Israel with nuclear weapons. In essence, she decided to run as a foreign policy hawk for president, figuring that she couldn't run the risk of appearing "soft" on foreign policy. Clinton represents, or has represented, what I would call the Lieberman wing of the party -- Democratic neocons based at places like the Progressive Policy Institute and the Democratic Leadership Council. They don't believe the Iraq War was itself a mistake, but that it was simply conducted ineptly by the Bush administration.

Already there are splits in the Obama camp between those who believe that the United States needs to push for democracy and human rights abroad (Russia or China) and those who think that Obama should focus on limiting America's commitments abroad. Choosing Clinton would be a big victory for the first camp.

Also Jason Linkins has his thoughts:
As you know, today is Friday, and Hillary Clinton's been to Chicago, and Barack Obama's transition team is in Chicago, and so everyone who's got an ankle or an elbow in the newshole is straight up speculatin' that Hillary's poised to be named as the next Secretary of State. This gives everyone a chance to drop the name of Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team Of Rivals like they were the first to think of it, then immediately pivot and fret over the possibility of Clinton being nothing but a dollop of underminer sauce on the promised Hope and Change Hoagie.
It's all frightfully interesting for a few minutes, but if there's any news organization that's just caught the gollydarned vapors over it, it's ABC News' The Note, who do what they do best: take the day's conventional wisdom and dress it up with fluttery melodrama and overheated pretentiousness. Here's how they captured the moment:
So much for no drama.
Surely a certain soon-to-be-ex-senator knows this by now, but here's the thing about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton: She tends to steal the scenes she's playing in.
Until the subject of her "private business" Thursday in Chicago is resolved -- and maybe until and even beyond the press conference announcing the new secretary who's headed to Foggy Bottom -- it will be 3 am in the transition process.
The Hillary rumors are the first potential stumbling block for the smooth machine that is President-elect Barack Obama's transition efforts -- and it revolves around a storyline that seems never to get old.

We sort of want to send a valentine to The American Prospect's Tim Fernholz, who responded to The Note like so:
No, it does get old! It's old right now! I spent some time looking around for some damaging blind quote from the Clinton camp, and shot an e-mail to an Obama aide to see if I missed anything. In fact, nothing happened. ABC is just being ridiculous -- have those writers had a vacation since the primaries? Get some down-time, folks.

HA HA ZING. And, noting that John McCain is scheduled to come to Chicago on Monday to meet with Obama and all the other radicals affiliated with the Annenberg Challenge Fund, presumably, Fernholz adds this kicker:
"Possible Note headline: OMG MCCAIN SECRETARY OF DEFENSE?"