November 24, 2008 by Mel Weiss
Google’s newish ‘suggested search’ function can be irritating, but it also gives you a feel for what’s on the mind of The Public. Like when you search “Hillary Clinton secretary of state” and see that nearly a million and a half other folks have done the same, you get that nice cozy feeling of being on the same wavelength as so many others. For the record, it’s now pretty clear that, post-Thanksgiving, Obama’s going to offer Clinton the post and she’s going to say yes. Now, I know plenty of people are worried about plenty of angles on this one (and as a New Yorker, let me say me, too!, because we’ve got quite a situation on our hands here, and she’s been an amazing senator), but please allow me to list some reasons why this is a good thing:
Senator Clinton, in her own right, which is to say if you don’t think about the nasty things she and the President-Elect said about each other in the primaries, is an obvious and amazing choice for SoS. She’s clearly brilliant and capable, has sat on the Senate Armed Services Committee for a while now, has traveled for the Senate extensively (remember the vodka incident?), met and cultivated relationships with an amazing number of dignitaries during her tenure as First Lady, and, last but far from least, she’s tough as nails.
I can’t deny that the idea of two successive strong women in the position is appealing, even though Condaleeza Rice may no longer have any soul left to sell at this point in the game, which should disqualify her from my approval. [This week’s New York magazine has a surprisingly straightforward—and kind of depressing—article, not yet available online, about the Hillary Clinton/Sarah Palin bitch vs. ditz conundrum. I was won over to the idea that the ditz rep is far more damaging, so I say, the more aggressive, self-possessed, smarter-than-you-and-you-know-it women we can get back into the spotlight asap, the better.] Nor can I deny that, along with Bill Richardson and Janet Napolitano (and we can throw in Lawrence Summers for good measure), Clinton’s presence helps me believe that this is an administration that will manage to ‘look like America’ in a non-pandering, non-condescending kind of way.
And I know people are worried that they’re not going to be able to work together, and there’s been plenty of bashing of the “team of rivals” concept (many thanks to Doris Kearns Goodwin for popularizing that phrase), but I guess I just can’t help appreciating at least the appearance of adults acting like adults and putting the country before their own petty grievances.
And to all y’all who still fear that Obama is somehow not good for Israel, take a deep breath. This appointment will confirm that, sorry, you’re wrong. Even Republicans, during those years of the primary that now, in my mind, stretch back a decade or so, admitted that Clinton had a good record on Israel. Israelis certainly thought so.
Yes, this does open up, to quote Rachel Maddow, “about 1.7 trillion political questions.” Yes, it may cause conflict. Yes, it may well be concerning to note all these Clintonites and fairly hawkish folks in an Obama administration, especially in the foreign policy and diplomacy department.
But it still makes me smile*.
*The fact that I won a bet by calling this appointment weeks ago is totally beside the point.