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Clinton and Jones Close to Joining Obama National Security Team

By Michael Abramowitz, Shailagh Murray and Anne E. Kornblut
President-elect Barack Obama appeared close today to landing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as his secretary of state and retired Marine Gen. James Jones as his national security adviser, sources said.

One friend said Clinton is ready to accept the job although the Obama transition team and Clinton's Senate spokesman said nothing has been finalized. But for the first time, her office officially confirmed that she is discussing the job with Obama.

"We're still in discussions, which are very much on track. Any reports beyond that are premature," said Philippe Reines, Clinton's spokesman and senior advisor.

Meanwhile, several sources said Jones has moved to the top of the list to be Obama's national security adviser and the sides are in advanced talks. Sources familiar with the talks said Obama is considering expanding the scope of the job to give the adviser the kind of authority once wielded by powerful figures like Henry Kissinger.

Sources said the announcement of the appointments would be made on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

The Jones appointment would put the one-time Marine Corps commandant and NATO commander in charge of managing an interagency process that many Democratic foreign policy experts contend has been broken under the Bush administration.

With many officials expecting Robert Gates to remain as defense secretary, at least during the first part of Obama's term, the emerging national security team appears to be centrist in orientation, with deep experience in many of the areas likely to be the focus of his foreign policy. This includes wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, instability in Pakistan and the Middle East, where Obama advisers have been signaling they want to make an early mark in the stalled peace process.

In picking Jones to coordinate his team, Obama would be sending a powerful sign of a desire to conduct a non-partisan national security policy. Jones is also close to Sen. John McCain, his colleague as a military liaison to Capitol Hill in the 1970s, and stayed publicly neutral during the campaign, but quietly provided advice to Obama in telephone conversations, according to someone who knows both men. He is one of the few individuals in public life who likely would have been courted for government service regardless of the election's outcome.

"He would bring a lot of the military dimension to the job," said Wesley Clark, the retired four-star general who was one of Jones' predecessors as NATO commander. "And his non- partisanship at this juncture is really important. He provides a nonpartisan standard for the national interest--that would be the presumption given his previous experience."

Jones currently heads the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy. His name circulated briefly as a possible vice-president pick, and he and Obama have discussed possible roles for Jones in an Obama administration since before the election.

Sources said another possibility for the job is James B. Steinberg, a close Obama adviser who was deputy national security adviser to President Clinton, but Jones now appears the strong favorite.

By Washington Post Editors  |  November 21, 2008; 4:05 PM ET
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Michael Tom makes good practical sense.

I would only comment that the political considerations here are larger now at the moment when the president elect is trying to consolidate domestic "populous power" that he can then project to "universal" power.

The real Constitutional power is his - not hers, though she is a person of stature and considerable personal power on her own.

This is a positive choice domestically for Democrats who need to unite the party for the crucial power struggles to come in Washington.

And it allows him to send into the world a person who is universally perceived as one who holds "poulous power" after a campaign that netted 18 million votes.

That she would set aside her own goals to serve the Obama team is honorable. Her willingness to bring her considerable influence - at whatever level - to represent the United States abroad creates a very strong opening for the Obama administration to discuss terms from a position of strength.

George Bush weakened our influence with go-it-alone policies that left him standing alone in the world.

A unity of figures who bring political power to the administration may not be as practical as the means you suggest. That doesn't mean she won't be just as effective on the job.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | November 22, 2008 2:25 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: scrivener50 | November 21, 2008 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Clearly promisses were made during the campaign to get the Clinton's on board. Now the rest of the country has to pay for it. There is too much at stake to use cabinet positions as political capital. While I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton would be a great asset to the Obama team, Secretary Of State is not the right position. This is the first major misstep of the new administration.

Posted by: msmith627 | November 21, 2008 11:55 PM | Report abuse

No way, no how, no CLINTON!!!

Posted by: wlockhar | November 21, 2008 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Readers really do need better sourcing than "One friend said Clinton is ready to accept the job although the Obama transition team and Clinton's Senate spokesman said nothing has been finalized."

One friend of whom? Nothing in the SoS part of the story ties anything to Obama. I'm sick of speculative stories and trial balloons that are put before me for reasons I care not to speculate about.

Posted by: bdunn1 | November 21, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

It is surprising that so many people who may have supported Obama have so little faith in his judgment in selecting Clinton to be the Secretary of State.

It is true that Obama will make mistakes. However, Obama's mantra about change was never about the people who he chooses to work with. Rather, the change Obama referred to was about taking this nation in a different direction. If that means selecting who Obama thinks are the most qualified, experienced people - whether Republican, Democrat, independent or whatever then so be it.

Obama apparently thinks highly of Clinton's qualifications and if there's anyone who should know her well enough and has reason to think such, then he's the one. Assuming Clinton becomes the Secretary of State and it doesn't work, then I'm sure Obama will ask Clinton to resign or fire her.

However, we as citizens of this great nation need to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. From what I've seen so far, Obama's judgment has been impeccable. I'm truly thankful that Obama's the president-elect even though I never really embraced his candidacy.

It is obvious to everyone that America is in for a very difficult period. It does no good to revisit whose fault it is for the position which America now finds itself in. Republicans, Democrats, independents, indeed all of us have a vested stake in this country's future and we will all need to support each other in this endeavor. Obama has already recognized this and I applaud him for it.

If for nothing else, Obama has impressed me by being willing to overlook our differences and endeavored to bring all us all together. That may mean bringing in Republicans whose party's policies I've strongly opposed with the deepest convictions, or Democrats whom I don't like perhaps, perhaps even GWB or Cheney. But if any of these people can and are willing to contribute something to help our nation then I'm all for it.

People who supported Obama because they thought he was the best qualified candidate need to now ask themselves if they trusted his judgment when they voted for him. If so, then they should give Clinton the benefit of the doubt because Obama apparently is willing to do so based on his judgment.

Finally, there is one other aspect to this that has been largely unacknowledged. Clinton thinks she can help Obama and this nation. Let's not forget that.

Posted by: brwntrt | November 21, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Jesus Christ. If it is this difficult to nominate anyone from the petulant Clinton clan, then how in the world does my man Obama think he can work with her? She and Bill triangulate, manipulate, and obfuscate. She and Bill were despicible during the primaries, and they continue to be so. Leaking information to force Obama's hand. He won despite her and Bill. Cut these clowns loose, and withdraw the offer.

Posted by: ericsimsjr | November 21, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Ouch, the first chink in the Obama armor. She has zero experience in diplomacy, she is questionable administrative experience for a very large organization, she is quite self-interested in being the POTUS, and then there is Bill. The woman can't even take responsibility for her own campaign debts. Negotiate? You're fired!

Posted by: michael4 | November 21, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

How utterly demoralizing!
After months of her racist, dehumanizing comments, to his face no less, he appoints her Sec. of State.
Something is rotten in Denmark. She and, McCain crossed lines during their respective campaigns, they both made the most egregious remarks and innuendos and now, in typical Clinton fashion here they all are schmoozing, hugging and kissing all over each other and the media, MSNBC and CNN just can't STOP cheerleading for this awful woman.
I was hoping never again to have to see Hill and Bill clapping, flashing mile-wide fake smiles, hugging and kissing each other ... I want to wash my eyes out.
So, the great non-feminist has gotten her way and what a tragedy for the M.E. and especially the ongoing genocide taking place against the Palestinians by Israel.
And of course, this was the gal who voted to kill 4,000++ Americans and injure and main them and the same for over a million Iraqis.

What a total disaster/disgrace she is as a human being, phony to the core and Obama is officially a frightened little loser now.

Was the R. Emanuel's decision?? Is that the only way he'll play, if he calls all of the shots?

Posted by: strohblumen | November 21, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

she will be fired within two years. she has failed at everything she has attempted aside from the fixed ny york elections

Posted by: maricopajoe | November 21, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

queen hillary in the cabinet, guaranteed republican landslide in 2010 and 2012. way to go erkel

Posted by: maricopajoe | November 21, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Looks like we got Clinton III after all. Change you can be deceived by.

Posted by: maricopajoe | November 21, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I heard that Bill, Hilary and Chelsea all have venereal warts from Bill's affairs with other women.

Posted by: Phil5 | November 21, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

The latest string of articles "promoting" senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is another example of how persistent and connected lobbies standing behind her and her husband are and how high the temperature of her ambition is. It might be a sign of the illness. Yes, she knows the "high sphere" of word political figures and obviously they know her name. Some tend to consider such knowledge as the most important and almost sufficient part of their respective resumes. Does she know the real world at "the populous level"? She does not. She really have not had a chance tasting it during her long political career (with the exemption of some photo opportunities of course). This is not to diminish her status in any way, but truly to focus on the sense of purpose projected to the world by new presidency via the Office of Secretary of State. As we see, the world is changing and the projection of power by "political figures" is not so well pronounced as decades or centuries ago. Increasingly more or less organized formal or informal groups without strict political establishment play a role in the shaping the world. Examples?...Well there is a common term forged relentlessly so well during the last 8 years. This "universal" term is applied anywhere, anytime when prominent politicians do not understand and even can not comprehend the reality of the world on "the populous level" because of their alienation, disengagement and the focus on "high sphere" level of politics.
Going back to original issue ... Who should be the SoS?
Perhaps, a CHANGE in the emphasis on the characteristic of the candidate would be appropriate. Forget about heavy politicians trained to play marble floor maneuvering their entire lives. Find the person who is genuinely engaged and connected with world's affairs at the root level, who has experience and capacity to recognize and understand the complexity of societies in economical, historical and political context and who has already gained and established such credibility. For obvious reason CapitAl Hill would not be a preferable place to search (nor would be Alaska), however I believe that there are many such capable and willing individuals who could project a new dimension of change from the incoming US administration. There is more need then ever to project an "intellect&understanding" rather than the raw military power. The former has a chance to create sustainable long term solutions, the later might not deliver even short term fixes as the recent history shows.

PS. Does America need a new political dynasty?

Posted by: MichaelTom | November 21, 2008 9:37 PM | Report abuse

After DC gets nuked, sometime in the spring while Secretary Clintons are attending an AIDS conference in the Congo, she will become President.

Posted by: Phil5 | November 21, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

if you are having girl problems I feel bad for you son... I got 99 problems but that ain't one.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 21, 2008 9:28 PM | Report abuse

E PLURIBUS HOKUM: The Stuff of Nightmares Obama's 'Dream Team' is beginning to look like a nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue...

Posted by: hankomatic1 | November 21, 2008 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Here we go. While we distracted Democrats were sucked into GWB, we are trying to gravitate back to Osama. What a major faux pas to try and pan off a Clinton as SOS. We don't want Hillary, we don't want Bill, we were promised a change. To place a majority of Clintonites in key positions is natural, but don't try and shove Hillary down our throats. Your 8 years just turned into 2.

Posted by: skepticone | November 21, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

She does not fit, we don't want her, we don't need her, please just go away.

Posted by: ntrlsol | November 21, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Well, he had to offer her a job doing something. This is her ticket back to the White House. She still may not take the job. He also offerred John McCain a job in janitorial service but McCain turned it down because he might be able to accomplish more in the Senate.

Posted by: maphound | November 21, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

I've come to the conclusion Clinton lovers project their own weaknesses and fears onto the Clintons.

It's a gift, simply from what they say about the Clintons, you can tell what they really think about their own limitations.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 21, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I've come to the conclusion Clinton haters project their own weaknesses and fears onto the Clintons.

It's a gift, simply from what they say about the Clintons, you can tell what they really think about their own limitations.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | November 21, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Some joker wrote:

"When are the people who elected Obama going to realize they were lied to and start to demand what Obama promised - Change - not more of the same old losing policies."

That time will occur, if ever AFTER the presidency starts. Don't you think it just a touch ridiculous to say Obama lied about change BEFORE HE EVEN TAKES OFFICE?!

Posted by: ippolit | November 21, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Clinton? Where do I go to get my vote back?

Posted by: rusty3 | November 21, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

The question is: Can Lanny Davis and all the Clintonistas who are never identified shut their mouths and abstain from leaking on an almost daily basis to the Times, Post, and the Wall Street Journal? The past week would suggest not. Can we expect that pompous Mark Penn, Howard Wolfson et. al. to have their own spot on Fox? It was just 13 months ago that Mark Penn was trying for the world record for the use of the word cocaine in an interview about a caucus vote. With the Clintons, can the clowns, monkeys, and the trapeze artists be far behind? That said, anyone who underestimates Mr. Obama does so at their peril.

Posted by: georgegoodburn | November 21, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse


I can't wait for the train wreck!!!

A definate conflict of interest for Ozillary negotiating with the leaders of other countries in the name of the U.S., while Slick Willie is approaching the same countries for donations to his Foundation and other Charities!!!

BTW- As so MANY others have said and I agree, THIS is the CHANGE that OBAMA promised during his election campaign??? Professional Politicians bending over the taxpayers saying get ready

.............HERE IT COMES!!!

Posted by: thgirbla | November 21, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Rodham would be a great asset to Obama's staff. However, Hillary Clinton is a liability.

Posted by: gorton | November 21, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Brilliant move that will manifest the benefits of foreign policy triangulation between Clinton, Biden and President Obama. This is a GPS policy approach that will produce much better analysis, strategic and tactical planning and execution with all three on board. Nobody understands triangulation better than Ms. Clinton.

Posted by: setnicker | November 21, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

By picking Washington insiders Obama has picked a team that will be ready from day one. They know the way Wash. works, and how to get things done. Did you expect him to pick people with no national experience? Jimmy Carter did that and look where it got him. So quit your whining. The election is over. Let him get into office before you write off his administration.

Posted by: akcoins | November 21, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Landing Clinton as SecState?

Sounds more like Clinton is landing Obama...

Posted by: AlanBrowne | November 21, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

The American Troika; Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, like every other totalitarian regime in history, need a serviceable minister of propaganda. Who better to represent the new American paradigm to the world than Hillary Clinton? The terraforming of America by the leftists has begun, we will be remade into the more acceptable likeness of Western Europe. The long suffering, liberal turmoil is at an end. America can at last take it’s place at the adult table beside the other more progressive socialist leader nations of the West. ‘Tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished.

Posted by: digitalpublius | November 21, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

"How does hiring all the old inside the beltway cronies represent change?"

Well, since you don't seem to understand the hiring process, let me explain it to you in short simple sentences.

* The guy at the top, the one who makes the decisions, is different than the one leaving office, and different than the guy before that. How does that *not* represent change?

* The guy at the top, the leader of the Democratic Party, is going to hire Democrats for his direct reports. Not Republicans. Not Independents. Not Ralph Nader. Democrats. He will want the most experienced people he can find. Hopefully he can find some people with prior government experience. How does that make the hiring process a "farce"?

Now that wasn't so hard, was it?

Posted by: seattle_wa | November 21, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I think the Jones appointment will be absolutely wonderful. Experience, discipline, and, yes, wisdom. Obama, and the rest of us, could not be in better hands. I truly hope it happens. He is a national treasure and, like Obama himself, the right leader in the right place at the right time.

Posted by: cms1 | November 21, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Hillary won't be Sec. of State, Bill Richardson will. Hillary has no experience outside of running her big mouth. Mrs. ducking-sniper-fire-in-Bosnia, needs to just take her caniving self back to the Senate.

I am sick of the media and the Clinton leaks, making this appear a done deal and if for some reason Obama doesn't pick her, making it seem like he has a personal problem with her.

Posted by: wlockhar | November 21, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton is a feisty, combative, effective parliamentarian. A peace-maker she is not. Nor does she have the requiste international experience. Thus, she's an unfortunate pick for the Secretary of State position which - given the currently highly complex, increasingly perilous, and fast-changing global state of affairs - will be challenged like never before. Now is not the time to curry intra-party favor, which is exactly what the Obama team is doing with this appointment, but to pick the wisest, most experienced, and most proven person for this exceedingly important responsibility.

Posted by: SDS1 | November 21, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

So far, overall, I think this is going to be a great team. You never want extremists from either party on your foreign or national security policy teams, in my opinion.

And, on top of that, if Sen. Chuck Hagel is eventually tapped (even if later in the term) to be SecDef, we are going to have a great group of smart, realistic, experienced and pragmatic folks on the Nat'l Security Team. As a former Marine, I am very impressed with the pick of General James Jones. He's a giant when it comes to knowledge and experience of real-world combat operations and is an experienced diplomat (you have to be when you're SACEUR of NATO).

I still say: nobody's perfect, but Pres-elect Obama and others on his team seem to be doing a pretty bang up job.


Posted by: RomeoJax1 | November 21, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

This is great news for New York, and it will remove this carpet bagger from the senate. Unfortunately, it puts her into another very important government post for which she is unsuited in experience, skill, judgment, or temperament. But I suppose Obama may can her butt after a year or so for incompetence, which she will surely demonstrate quickly. Still, bad news for the nation overall.

Posted by: surfer-joe | November 21, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

OMG - What a farce - How does hiring all the old inside the beltway cronies represent change. When are the people who elected Obama going to realize they were lied to and start to demand what Obama promised - Change - not more of the same old losing policies. The only thing worse than the Republican policies were the Democrat policies that preceeded them.

Posted by: AG1231 | November 21, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

if true... it is a monstrously naive choice as HRC will go down in flames, obliterated by her connection with Hedge Funds and the collapse of Wall Street.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 21, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

An hour-and-a-half ago, the NY Times reported that Clinton has accepted.

Posted by: pali2500 | November 21, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

The NYT is already reporting that she's taken the gig. What's holding up the Post's coverage?

Just curious.

Posted by: viennamom | November 21, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Senator Clinton is a good choice for Secretary of State. She will do a good job and she is well respected worldwide.

Posted by: ades2domanie | November 21, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Senator Clinton is a good choice for Secretary of State. She will do a good job and she is well respected worldwide.

Posted by: ades2domanie | November 21, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

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