It’s a Done Deal.

Clinton goes to State.

I have a million thoughts on this.  What do you think?


People have been thinking about this cabinet appointment too much on the level of symbolism. But this is a real job with real responsibilities. And one of those responsibilities is stocking, and managing, the government’s foreign policy apparatus. Which is why I continue to consider this a basically weird choice. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did not have many policy disagreements during the primary. Most of their disagreements, including the fight over health care mandates, were minor. They were technical fights or political disputes rather than collisions of principle. The exception was foreign policy. Iraq was a real disagreement on the level of principle. The heated argument over negotiations with autocrats was similarly fundamental. Samantha Power wrote, and the Obama campaign released, a memo entitled “Conventional Wisdom vs. The Change We Need.” …

Conventional wisdom, in this memo, was another way of saying “Hillary Clinton, her foreign policy advisers, and the people who agreed with her about things.” And Obama just appointed her to the most important foreign policy position in the US government. She will have to carry out his overarching priorities, of course, but beneath that, she will have significant managerial autonomy, and considerable opportunity to use her judgment. The very judgment Obama oriented his campaign against. Which is not to say that this is a bad pick, or that Hillary Clinton will do a bad job. But it is a very sharp break with the Obama campaign’s central message.

15 thoughts on “It’s a Done Deal.

  1. shani-o November 21, 2008 at 5:07 pm Reply

    Well, I don’t see why it matters, except to appease the few Hillary holdouts, and make Barack look good (even better).

    She’ll be implementing his policy and working on foreign relations. It takes a competent person to do that, and Hillary is competent. I don’t see her bringing anything special to the table.

    (Note, while I prefer Hillary to Richardson, I do sort of wish she’d stayed in the Senate.)

  2. Grump November 21, 2008 at 5:11 pm Reply

    Is McCain wondering why this vetting didn’t follow more closely to “West Wing” than it already has?

  3. quadmoniker November 21, 2008 at 5:14 pm Reply

    I agree that it’s a weird choice. She’s much more of a hawk than he is, and their only disagreements are really on foreign policy. Had she been picked for something relating to domestic issues that would have been a much better choice. The Clintons are still very popular here and her thinking is more aligned with Obamas. She’s also considered health care her signature issue for a long time. This is a weird thing and I can’t say I like it.

  4. watchoutmomshome November 21, 2008 at 7:49 pm Reply

    Bill Richardson would have been a better choice. He went out on a limb for Obama, now Hillary’s being rewarded. What deal did the Clintons cut to get her this job? How can she be trusted to advance the Administration’s foreign policy and not her own and Bill’s ad hoc version. She is about maintaining the status quo, not creating change. Personally, the “good hard working Americans” line was a bit too Sarah Palin-esque for my taste.

    Additionally, the foreign policy appointments to date raise serious questions about the new administrations’ commitment to ending torture.,_clintonites_and_neocons_to_watch_for_in_obama%27s_white_house/?page=entire

  5. G.D. November 21, 2008 at 8:45 pm Reply

    Watchout: looks like Richardson is gonna be at the Commerce Department.

  6. scott November 21, 2008 at 10:02 pm Reply

    I can’t fathom HRC for State. Unlike HRC, Richardson already has real foreign policy experience.

  7. quadmoniker November 21, 2008 at 10:28 pm Reply

    I don’t like Richardson at all. He’s really stretched his luck escaping much criticism for the Wen Ho Lee scandal.

  8. Steve November 22, 2008 at 5:27 pm Reply

    Richardson would have been a bad pick he got less than stellar reviews as UN ambassador and as energy secretary… he’s also known to be an alcohoic and a womanizer….his nickname when he worked at the UN was “bluto”…

    Of all the “big names” , hillary is the best choice… leading me to believe that Obama is going to run the policy out of the white house staff or NSA… people don’t realize that not all secretary of states have been major policy wonks nor people with wide foreign policy experience… Hillary brings an international name and popularity and is familiar with many heads of state as it is… it doesnt matter what her personal policies are nor that she lacks policy experience…she won’t be the one dictating that.

    If he didnt pick a “big name” there are very accomplished and smart people like holbrooke or susan rice….

    but this pick is more powerful symbolism than a policy move.

    I think it’s fine.

    Kerry, ont he other hand, would have sucked.

  9. bitchphd November 22, 2008 at 7:27 pm Reply

    It makes no sense to me either. What, precisely, is this appointment based on in terms of Clinton’s foreign policy background?? And wouldn’t it make much more sense to keep her in the Senate to help with a health care bill?? And god forbid she ends up not being a great SoS–which I wouldn’t be half-surprised–and he has to fire her?

    The whole thing is weird.

  10. scott November 23, 2008 at 11:09 am Reply


    I know that not all past SecStates have had foreign policy chops, however at this point in time in the world I think having experience matters more that it would if the world situation was different. Being SecState involves more than just going to some other country and repeating what the Pres tells you to say. Besides, with HRC as SecState, can Bill be trusted to keep his mouth shut?

  11. Steve November 23, 2008 at 11:05 pm Reply

    Scott: Pretty much the ONLY time we DIDNT have a pressing, scary and all-consuming foreign policy dilemma was during the Clinton years, and we’ve definitely had SecStates during the Cold War and before that weren’t expert diplomats or policy wonks… and we had presidents that also engaged in active diplomacy (as Obama had signaled he was going to do)…so I really don’t think it matters as long as Hillary is popular and well-received.

  12. scott November 23, 2008 at 11:59 pm Reply

    I seem to remember that the US was involved in Bosnia, Haiti and Somalia during the Clinton admin. I guess none of those were pressing or scary to you, just to those that were there. Also, remember HRC was so brave to go to Bosnia under gun fire to hand out flowers and work her foreign policy street cred.

  13. Steve November 24, 2008 at 2:58 am Reply

    Of course those things happened…but that’s worlds different than the War on Terror, The Cold War or The Third Reich. The Clinton years were the only time we weren’t engaged in a long-term conflict. But if you want to talk about that, the Sec State at the time had NOTHING to do with our success in Bosnia that was all Holbrooke which once again goes to show the Sec State him/herself doesn’t have to be the diplomatic intellectual muscle behind the foreign policy agenda. Which is why I think assertions about Hillary’s lack of diplomatic/foreign policy experience really aren’t persuasive as to why she shouldn’t be chosen.

    My only major concern is Bill more than anything. But I still think she is a good choice.

  14. quadmoniker November 24, 2008 at 9:47 am Reply

    I’ve actually decided this was one of those tricky moves that makes Obama look magnanimous but is more calculating than that. I think he appointed her because he wanted her out of the Senate. She’s even more powerful now than she was before, and has a very national stage. If she had wanted to oppose him or put pressure on him to do something she would have had a lot of clout in the Senate. At least as SecState she’s ostensibly on his team. Also, that was the only post big enough to lure her away. She wouldn’t have left for HHS.

  15. ladyfresshh November 24, 2008 at 3:40 pm Reply

    quad: most people seem to agree with you (i do also)

    “It’s an elegant and shrewd move; both public spirited and yet coldly calculating at the same time. Pure Obama.”

    “”The best reason for Obama to be looking for a place in his cabinet for Clinton is simple: to get her out of the Senate. ”

    i saw him in a new light once he picked rahm i think everyone has severely under estimated this man

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