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Hillary and Bill's State Department

The question of whether Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton should be secretary of state in the Obama administration has inspired a lot of journalism and many opinions. Columnist David Broder writes that she should stay in the Senate because she is effective and substantive there.

A Post editorial, while praising Sen. Clinton's abilities, says, "it is difficult to see how [former President Bill] Clinton's work with a nongovernmental organization could continue alongside Ms. Clinton's work for the U.S. government."

Our Readers Who Comment are all over the map. Some think Sen. Clinton would be terrific at State; a few complain that her support of the invasion of Iraq is immediately disqualifying. Some want her to stay in the Senate, especially if she can find a way to become Majority Leader. Some agree there is a Bill Clinton problem; some disagree. Some complain that Obama's campaign theme of change is being undermined with all these earlier Clinton administration names floating to the top.

The now much-discussed Team of Rivals concept comes with potential as well as problems.

We'll start with comments on the Broder column and with emerald1, who wrote, "...One of your most concise, balanced and compelling pieces."

But castillomark said, "An extremely silly column full of silly speculations and surmises. Hilary Clinton would be a fine Secretary of State, a huge step up from the idiocy of the George W Bush administration's international folly."

And fzdybel got to the point, asking, "Back once more to Hillary's central problem: whatever to we do about Bill?"

SDWalters wrote, "...As far as her being of better use on Capitol Hill, that would be true only if Senator Clinton would replace Senator Reid."

ravitchn said, "It is not a matter of where Hillary would be best. It is a matter of what Clintonian ambition demands."

bawrytr wrote, "Right on. Hillary is doing just fine on her own in the Senate. The last thing Obama needs is a Bush-style government where various cabinet heavyweights spend their time pushing and tugging and infighting."

Sutter said, "Clinton can be a force in the Senate for decades. As SecState she would be an implementor for 4 or, at most, 8 years, with little prospect of a future political career. Sen. Hagel would be a better fit."

And Greg8 wrote, "...Bill Richardson would be a far better choice. He is a seasoned diplomat, having served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Bill Clinton, is bi-lingual, and has proven that he can negotiate with difficult regimes like North Korea."

brucemgr asked, "Why do so many assume Bill and Hillary are so stupid as to set up a competing foreign policy shop to Obama's?... She has star quality politically throughout the world. Such recognition makes her an effective spokesperson for Obama's foreign policy."

Jeff-for-progress wrote, "...the Team of Rivals concept should probably play second place to who genuinely is the best person for the job. But, Hillary has potential, and I don't see anyone being head and shoulders above her for the job..."

amoroso1 said, "Obama sees... the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the key to a wide range of problems. Solve that and you cure a lot of ills. Bill Clinton came closer than anyone to doing it, and Hillary will be seen as an honest broker. Her husband will only be an asset in making sure she succeeds..."

postfan1 asked, "...Didn't Obama run on a platform of change? If Obama continues to put all of the Clinton players back in place, then it seems that the only thing that changed in Washington was the party in control, which was a no-brainer."

All comments on the Broder column are here.

Now to comments on the Post editorial, starting with kevrobb, who wrote, "...Hillary has a far better shot at carving her name in history as the woman who fixed US healthcare, than as just another Secy of State."

priusdriver suggested something easier said than done: "put bill clinton in a box for 4 years, and call it a day. hillary would do a great job."

rdklingus wrote, "But the Post had no problem with George W. Bush becoming president while his father was doing international deals with the Carlyle Group... If Obama vets Bill Clinton's ties and guidelines are set to ensure no conflict of interests, then Obama and Hillary Clinton should be free to work together..."

pbarnett52 asked, "... Where is her diplomatic experience? Can she mute her agressiveness attitude? And, can she make Bill stay home and work on his Library instead of international public issues?... Richardson or Holbrooke...would be a better choice."

bourassa1 wrote, "Naturally, the writers of the Post's editorial page... could never mention Hillary's original sin, her real disqualification, because they share it. Supporting the invasion of Iraq..."

But icurhuman2 said, "That Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq invasion is immaterial. A large percentage of Americans voted for the same thing... Mistakes are made to be corrected, you learn nothing from being right all the time, this is the reason we all exist."

thornegp wrote, "I agree we need to know what foreign govenments gave to Bill - and - we need to know why?? What deals were cut? We will never know - therefore Hillary can never get the job. Obama, touted as a very smart guy, has put himself in a very bad place..."

HMichaelH said, "...if anyone thinks Bill Clinton can be marginalized in order to appoint his wife to be Secretary of State, they also believed his finger-pointing-at-the-camera declaration, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman...!"

We'll close with bjalexa, who wrote, "My hat is off to Obama for offering the position to Hillary... I hope Hillary has the good sense to turn it down. She can do it for the good of the country. She must now become Obama's biggest foreign policy supporter...In one move, Obama gets the Clintons singing out of his hymnal..."

All comments on the editorial are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  November 19, 2008; 7:42 AM ET
Categories:  Clinton , Democrats , Obama  | Tags: Clinton, Democrats, Obama  
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Before Hillary Clinton can become Secretary of State:

1) Bill Clinton must provide a complete listing of all donors to his foundation and presidential library.

2) Both Bill and Hillary Clinton need to clearly indicate that any and all private financial dealings and other interactions with foreign leaders are now over, unless specifically authorized by the US government.

3) Hillary Clinton needs to publically discuss exactly what her approach to the job of Secretary of State would be and clearly indicate how she would be able to perform that job without any conflict of interest whatsoever.

If Bill and Hillary Clinton are unwilling or unable to comply with the above requirements or similar ones provided by the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton should not become Secretary of State. The ball is in the Clinton’s court.

Posted by: bobwestafer | November 19, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

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