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The Case Against Hillary

Yes, I know the "Team of Rivals" argument for Hillary Clinton as the ideal secretary of state for the Obama administration. But before it’s a done deal, let’s consider the counter-argument that this crew could prove to be a “Ship of Fools.”

In questioning whether Clinton is the right person for Foggy Bottom, I am not in any way disagreeing that she should have a big voice in the administration and in the nation’s future. She would have made an outstanding vice president (or president, for that matter), and she would be a sublime Senate majority leader. It’s easy to imagine her as the legislative architect for Obama’s domestic agenda. That’s a role she has been preparing to play her whole life.

But she’s an unwise choice for secretary of state, and here’s why:

The game changer in foreign policy is Barack Obama himself. Traveling in Europe earlier this month, I was stunned by the excitement he has aroused. The day after the election, the French newspaper “Le Monde” carried a cartoon atop its front page that showed Obama surfing a red, white and blue wave. Above him, it said: “Happy New Century!” You can sense the same enthusiasm around the world -- in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Even among the followers of radical groups, such as Hamas and the Taliban, Obama has inspired a sense of change and opportunity.

Given this ferment, the idea of subcontracting foreign policy to Clinton -- a big, hungry, needy ego surrounded by a team that’s hungrier and needier still -- strikes me as a mistake of potentially enormous proportions. It would, at a stroke, undercut much of the advantage Obama brings to foreign policy. And because Clinton is such a high-visibility figure, it would make almost impossible (at least through the State Department) the kind of quiet diplomacy that will be needed to explore options.

The foreign policy landscape already has too many big elephants wandering out from the Senate, with Sen. Joe Biden becoming vice president and former presidential candidate John Kerry taking over as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. With this many big talkers on the loose, it’s terrifying to imagine what life will be like in a few months for the booker on “Meet the Press.”

And I haven’t even mentioned here the biggest elephant of all, former President William Jefferson Clinton. I am a big fan of the ex-prez; he’s one of the wisest and most effective thinkers on foreign policy that I know. But it’s even harder to imagine him fitting in as the spouse of the secretary of state than as spouse of the president or vice president. I’ll leave to the transition’s team legal vetters the question of Bill Clinton’s potential conflicts of interest, after having been a “buckraker” speaker and door opener for wealthy business and political leaders around the world. But those leaders would surround almost everything Hillary Clinton tried to do in Foggy Bottom.

The most effective secretary of state I’ve covered in 30 years of writing about foreign policy was George Shultz. He was also the most apolitical. The least effective I can remember was Sen. Ed Muskie, another failed presidential candidate. Someone in Jimmy Carter’s entourage must have had a “team of rivals” idea when they named Muskie to succeed Cyrus Vance. But it was a bad idea then. And I’m sorry to say, it’s a bad idea now.

By David Ignatius  | November 17, 2008; 8:30 PM ET
Categories:  Ignatius  | Tags:  David Ignatius  
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Dear Mr. Ignatius, I have long appreciated your column in WP, as well as your presence in Diane Rehm's International Friday News Round-up on NPR. Even my husband, a rabid Republican, respects your points of view. Unfortunately, I share your well-stated misgivings about Senator Clinton for State, and hope that the Obama transition team reads your column. I do wonder a bit if the State position was her price for endorsing Obama after the nomination. It's too bad he wouldn't appoint a journalist - like you or Robert Kaplan!

Posted by: SherriFLALibber | November 17, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

There is no problem Barack Obama has to which the appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State is the solution.

I would go farther than Ignatius does here. Of the five most successful modern Secretaries of State -- Marshall, Acheson, Kissinger, Schultz, and Baker -- none came to the job from elective office. None was representative of an important domestic constituency. Each one of them, arguably excepting Schultz, had a preexisting relationship of confidence with the President he served. Hillary Clinton is the opposite in all these respects of the men who have served the country best at the State Department.

Frankly, I roll my eyes at the "Team of Rivals" idea. Truth is, lots of administrations have had teams of rivals, usually producing discord and acrimony and occasionally much worse. What made Lincoln different? Well, he didn't have a choice, for one thing; he was a minority President of a country on the verge of dissolution, and he was little known among the followers of most of the men he asked to join his Cabinet. He was a wartime President, for another; everything in Lincoln's administration was secondary to winning the Civil War (Franklin Roosevelt had a similar advantage during World War II, when he named prominent Republicans to be his Secretries of War and Navy). Also -- since the concept of hubris has sometimes come up in discussions of the current administration -- he was Abraham Lincoln.

Barack Obama has a choice. He will be a wartime President only in a very limited sense as he seeks to disengage us from the Iraq adventure. And he is not Abraham Lincoln. He needs a Secretary of State experienced in the field of diplomacy, intimately familiar with the State Department, able to focus on the recovery of State preeminence in foreign policy from the Defense Department and not encumbered with a vast entourage of campaign aides and personal retainers. There are people available who fit that description admirably; Richard Holbrooke is one, Dennis Ross could be another. Hillary Clinton is not one of them.

Posted by: jbritt3 | November 18, 2008 12:35 AM | Report abuse

The only thing good I have to say about Clinton as Sec. State is that it gets rid of her as a political creature. I'm sure she sees it as a way to claim some sort of "co-presidency" with Obama and challenge Biden in '16, but the skill set required at State - mainly that of listening to other people and trying to find common ground where it does not obviously exist - is not one she has ever been shown publicly to possess.

I expect her to be dismissed in a year or two, after having presided over the international equivalent of "HillaryCare", thereby ending her political career. She would be wiser to stay put in the Senate and work to being the first female Majority Leader in a decade or so, but she hasn't the patience for something like that.

The Clintons are the past. They will have a last moment of relevance over the next two to four years based on the presence of old Clinton hands in the new administration, but by early 2013 most of them will have been replaced (including Hillary), and the Democratic Party will be fully Obama's, not Bill and Hillary's.

Posted by: dj333 | November 18, 2008 1:13 AM | Report abuse

If Obama appoints Hillary it will come back to haunt him. Bill and Hillary has their own agenda and it does not include carrying water for Obama.
Don't do it Obama. Hillary is overrated in the foreign policy department and she is not what you need to get the job done.

Posted by: sbundley | November 18, 2008 2:21 AM | Report abuse

The Clintons, for all their qualities, are trouble and the Republicans will have in Hillary the ideal focus point to target their frustrations. The US does not need a troubled Secreatary of State in these troubled times, especially not in foreign policy matters.

Posted by: pegasus2 | November 18, 2008 3:49 AM | Report abuse

You forgot to cover the most obvious political point that is to be scored: in politics, elimination of rivals is always the job at hand and this invite, then "sorry, your husband is conflicted out" kind of story is the basic game routine here.

True change requires new faces so that new, "changed" policies can be sold, at home and abroad. Otherwise, it will be a see-thru sale of death warmed over, especially in this era of worldwide change in the real world--economic relations!

Posted by: hgcsato | November 18, 2008 4:44 AM | Report abuse

Obama needs someone at the State who can assure and assuage the Israelis while he, himself conducts public opinion diplomacy in the Arab world and with Iranians. If done right, it can change the whole equation in the Middle East by tipping the balance of power away from leaders like Khamenei and Assad.

We better our situation there, we will be in much stronger position when dealing with Russia and others.

He can't do that if every time he says anything cordial, the Israelis get nervous and make a fuss.

Now, who could that be??

Posted by: roberts4 | November 18, 2008 4:44 AM | Report abuse

There's one thing you forgot to mention: Remember Hillary's conduct at the end of the primaries? When it was clear for everyone that she was out of the race? She still insisted, she could make it. That proves she is a person who is guided by emotions and wishful thinking. Qualities that could mean desaster (not to mention expenses) when it comes to foreign politics.

Posted by: egojen | November 18, 2008 5:34 AM | Report abuse

Ego-neurosis is an all too common malady of those centered in and around great power, and politics. It results in an inability to admit to error, a rigid and inflexible approach to events, and a dogged determination to maintain the veneer of perceived accumulated "status."

This personality type is completely unsuited to the world of diplomacy where modesty and humility are the qualities most admired and respected.

I join the list of commenters who strongly advise against a Hillary and Bill Secretary of State for the nation. The side-show would derail the very serious task of mending our now very tarnished beacon on the hill and repairing the train wreck created by Mr. Bush.

Posted by: johnrbomar | November 18, 2008 6:18 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Ignatius, but, unfortunately this looks like a done deal. This is probably the first discordant note, everyone else has been falling all over themselves praising Hillary as SoS. Everyone talks about Hillary's stature abroad but I see precious little evidence of it. Plus, Obama shouldn't be subcontracting foreign policy. If terrorists set off a nuke in an American city, the size of the next stimilus package will become pretty unimportant. I know Americans want their leaders to focus on "the economy" but they can't afford to ignore or pass off foreign affairs, especially to people as self-serving at the Clintons? Who will be calling the shots? Have Bill and Hillary Clinton ever played second fiddle to anyone else? Not to my knowledge. Why does Obama want share power with them? I really can't fathom the justification for this choice. Hopefully, some scandal will turn up in the vetting process, assumig there is a real process.

Posted by: RealChoices | November 18, 2008 6:32 AM | Report abuse

There are many reasons not to select Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. The biggest reason: she has no foreign policy experience.

Posted by: cjenns | November 18, 2008 6:34 AM | Report abuse

Many of us supported Obama in the primary because we want a new foreign policy. So I was more than surprised to find he's considering Hillary Clinton for State. IF she is willing to support his approach (say, on Iran and Russia), she might be excellent. But there's also the huge risk of buying into the hawkish half of Democratic foreign policy.

So along with clearing up Bill Clinton's conflicts of interest, Obama must insist that second level positions in State, as well as National Security Adviser and the National Security Council, go to people willing to try a more open, cooperative foreign policy. Or he could must make Richardson Secretary of State.

Posted by: davidkeppel | November 18, 2008 6:52 AM | Report abuse

It is amazing that people who claim to admire Pres Clinton will always find a way to undercut him and by extension Hillary Clinton. The present situation is clear: no one in the Senate is going to give way to HC to become leader. She is too junior for that. Health care has been swiftly co-opted by Sens Kennedy and Baucus cutting her off.It is difficult to believe that the Senate will do much to help he advance given their cowardice on the Lieberman issue. So: the options seem to be: give HC a position in Cabinet or nothing. If the latter, then at least she won't be blamed for any failures in our efforts in Israel (O) and in the Middle East in general (-10)

Posted by: bitterpill81 | November 18, 2008 6:53 AM | Report abuse

The question "What do we do with Hillary ... and Bill ... if we win?" isn't new, and most certainly came up among Obama's advisors early on in his campaign.

And what else except offering her Secretary of State is our new President able to do with Hillary?

What other high visibility position in the Obama administration could he offer her without demeaning her -- and without also offending her vast number of supporters?

Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare?

Could he offer her a shot at the Supreme Court, which some pundits have suggested -- presenting the Senate with a nominee who has no judicial experience at all, a nominee who couldn't even pass the D.C. bar exam?

Negatives are easy to come by, but not solutions.

Posted by: Punahou52 | November 18, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

If Hillary wants Secretary of State Obama should oblige her. Her unwavering support of Obama once he won the nomination shows she's a team player.

However, I'm not convinced she wants it or would even accept it. As a very powerful US Senator who has a large base of support she would be able to effect more legislative change in the Senate that would have meaningful effects on people's lives then she could as Secretary of State. Without a doubt one of her passions is the passage and implementation of a national health care reform package. As Secretary of State she would have to step away from that passion and I doubt she's willing to do that.

I agree with Mr. Ignatius that the world is looking forward to an Obama interaction and any Secretary of State will be diminished by these expectations. Hillary has never impressed me as a person who wishes to be diminished by anyone. I like Richardson for the position and think he would work well in the role.

Posted by: blund | November 18, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Apart from the disappointment it will bring to those who took seriously, Barrack Obama's promise of "change", the idea of having two people -- Hillary and Bill -- who had eight years to "change" the image of the US in the world but failed to do so, being given the task of achieving that now, is unrealistic.

They have axes to grind because of their past. And they have axes to grind because of the future: the ambitious Hillary would be campaigning half the time, if not for 2012 I repeat 2012, she will have an eye on 2016. Controlling her and Bill would be too much of a distraction for Obama, and ruin his chances of running a great presidency. Don't forget the overwhelming media interest that will be focused on them, which will also be extremely destructive.

Posted by: martinduodu | November 18, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Regardless of the history of the "Team of Rivals" (and I agree with poster above who noted that most of them have been ineffective), it reminds me of the call for "unity tickets". Why someone would want a squabbling Cabinet or useless Jefferson-style Vice President is beyond me.

But more importantly, Hillary Clinton has very few qualifications for the position. She did ceremonial meetings and conferences as First Lady, and some Senate fact-finding missions as a Senator. That's it. You'd probably be better off choosing Bill Clinton to be Secretary of State, were it not for his conflicts of interest; at least he has considerable experience working with the Oslo Accords and North Korean process.

Posted by: guardsmanbass | November 18, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

You said,
"In questioning whether Clinton is the right person for Foggy Bottom, I am not in any way disagreeing that she should have a big voice in the administration and in the nation’s future." I disagree.

The first and foremost factor in Hillary's political life is feeding power to herself. Yes she is accomplished, a thinker, and a person of ideas, yet always power trumps everything in her decision making. She ruined the chance to do something positive on healthcare when she had the chance, she voted for the war in Iraq, she voted for the Patriot Act, and to make sure she was more Jewish than the right wing Israelis, she promised to "totally obliterate" Iran, if Iran attacked Israel. When come right down to it, the nature of her attacks on Obama was the same as John McCain's. And when she lost, the nature of her support was half hearted and in general, ineffective and inconsequential.

I think it will be a huge blunder to appoint her as the secretary of state. After 8 years of incompetence (including Powell's major errors), it is important to have a secretary of state who is apolitical, credible, and thoughtful. I think Chuck Hagel can make a good one, for example.

Posted by: Raymond66 | November 18, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

You know the biggest problem with Hillary as Secretary of State? She doesn't know how to run that kind of organization. Her campaign was a complete mess. It doesn't bode well.

Posted by: bjalexa | November 18, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

The post by bjalexa is a good one and begins to address a larger issue: what are the requirements for Secretary of State? This question hasn't seemed to merit a comprehensive or systematic answer, at least in public forum. The SOS is required to be a diplomat (discreet, persuasive), a proponent of the President's policies and a representative of the President himself, an administrator and manager - nay, leader- of professional, politically independent civil servants, currently serving in a huge agency that is somewhat demoralized. Ideally, the SOS would be a confidante of the President whom he could trust implicitly and had a prior relationship with (tough in Obama's case given the brevity of his career), and ideally the SOS would have had prior international experience either diplomatically, economically or militarily (vs travel or sight lines to Russia!). Against these criteria and others, let's match the candidate. Score? The only "positive" for the Senator from NY isn't on the list: Obama doesn't naturally have someone to turn to who fits the bill it seems, given his paucity of time on the scene, the time away from power for Dems (the same issue haunted Clinton in his first term), and the broken paradigm of Republicans. From the political side, Sam Nunn? Now there's a qualified candidate. Richard Lugar too, but he doesn't want it. Is there anyone younger- how about expanding the list of possibles?! Anyone?Diplomatically?...Hillary might be a good undersecretary and then secretary after some time on the job, but experience does count, Madame Senator.

Posted by: drs5 | November 18, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I sincerely believe Obama should appoint Strobe Talbott Secretary of State. He is James Baker's counterpart in brilliance, eloquence, temperament, and experience. Further, this decision will not have
whispers of quid pro quo. "Strobe Talbott is president of the Brookings Institution. Talbott, whose career spans journalism,
government service, and academe, is an expert on U.S. foreign policy, with specialties on Europe, Russia, South Asia, and nuclear arms control. As deputy secretary of state in the Clinton administration, Talbott was deeply involved in both the conduct of U.S. policy abroad and the management of executive branch relations with Congress."

Posted by: Kellyyip1 | November 18, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Oobama wants Hillary. She wants the job. The rest of you get to criticize both of them . If somehow Hillary could become Senate Majority Leader that might be a better place for her, but all my recent reading reports that she has been told that the competition among her fellow Senators and her lower seniority status hinder her from a position of leadership in the next Congress.

This is only the first of probably many times that Obama's judgment will be questioned by his base and the media.

He won the election because the majority of the country has faith in his ability to lead and govern. He knows what he wants, I think we should let him try it his way with his choices.

Posted by: rdklingus | November 18, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

What's Hillary's hurry. She will develop seniority in the Senate over the next 8 years, perhaps sooner than later. In the State Department she will be subordinate (hopefully) and have to dodge the complications of her husbands overseas activities. It would be better for all of us if she remained in the Senate.

Don't get me wrong, she is a wonderfully competent politician and would do well at State but would be more effective in the Senate.

Posted by: pagoff | November 18, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Good column.

I hope the Obama team reads this, if they haven't already.

I hope they consider HRC for some other post, if any, if they haven't already.

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | November 18, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Its not just a bad idea. It means that Obama has no new idea at all for foreign policy. Or that he doesn't really care.

Posted by: nersessa1 | November 18, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Bill's conflicts will be too much. I certainly wouldn't give up the speaking fees. I think that the Sec State slot is a canard designed to keep everyone off base. In reality, Obama is using the time with her to plan on how to structure the new legislative agenda. She'll stay in the Senate where she can do some good, and where she and Bill will be far enough removed from Obama that they cannot do him any direct political harm. Owing to her position as Obama's number one opponent in the primaries, and to her standing in the Senate, Obama had to meet with her in order not to be seen as dissing her in the eyes of her fanatical supporters.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | November 18, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

aFTER READING ALL THOSE POSTS, i FEEL MY COMMENT IS NOT GOING TO BE WELCOMED BUT... in case some people have missed it, the election is over.
Obama is president elect. And if he is the bright man I think he is and in fact voted for him in the primaries and at the G.E. I know he is going to be very much in charge , which means if he feels he can work with Hillary Clinton, who is also a bright woman , well who are we to say nay to it.
Why in heavens sake, should we carry on a grudge against her. Have we all forgotten that if Fate would have decided it, we would have eleceted Hillary ?
Sen. Clinton has a lot of qualities and can do a lot for her country, and by the way if she gets the nod, it will be because of Her and not because of Bill. So all of you, bite the bullet or would you have Sarah Palin, the Appalin`Alaskan day-wonder.

Posted by: THERESEPRIEUR04 | November 18, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Well, your aruguments are not without a dose of truths but still I think Barak Obama is going to need a heck of a lot of help and experienced minds to move his Administration.

I voted for Barak Obama but after watching the 60 minutes interview of him as President-elect I realize there has always been this very uncomfortable feeling I get as to Barak Obama's actual capabilites as a leader of a Nation. There is no denying his intelligence and sincerity in his quest to be a leader of all is just that I get the feeling that Barak Obama may actually need to chose people who can "cover" for his very real inexperience in many areas.

Posted by: rannrann | November 18, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"Even among the followers of radical groups, such as Hamas and the Taliban, Obama has inspired a sense of change and opportunity."

Opportunity? Uh, that's not good.

Posted by: LuluB1 | November 18, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a "game changer"??? Clearly, Hillary has more experience and know-how than OBAMA himself. But noone will acknowledge this FACT. Obama talks about insiders in Washington, so far, he has appointed nothing but INSIDERS.

Posted by: mjno | November 18, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I have had a long history of relations with Hillary Clinton, though I've never seen her alive. But this woman chose me long ago as her antogonist and scapegoat and exercise her power intesively to leave for me only one civil right - the right to remain silent. Today I have spoken with a person from copyright office of USA Library of Congress because they, all of a sudden, do not want to issue me my copyright certificates for some books, I
am writing, and some Cd-s I am recording with the little publishing and recording company a few people, Iincluded, are running. I've received from them these certificates before, but they were, of course, always trying to steal copyright for the best items. But now when my CD-s are, obviously, attracting attention, they said me following: "I have no rights to utilize someone's elses music and/or text for my own translation, orchestration and performance without this one's permission, even if this one is long ago dead or do not answer any attempts to contact him/her and, obviously, have no interest in the matter" By other words, I need the special permission for this office to approve my utilization of ANY PREVIOUS HUMAN CULTURE ACHIEVEMENTS in my poetry, music, songs, whichever else. The woman, who came up with such requirement, was, certainly, Hillary's appointee, and her associate. How could we show to the world such terrible face of our life? How could anyone think that Mrs. Clinton can fit any position with any diplomatic and/or intelligent representation? The woman is more than enough shameful for this country, as it is because of what she has already done. It is really and truly ridiculous to make her the diplomatic face of the state.

Posted by: aepelbaum | November 18, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

You say, "Given this ferment, the idea of subcontracting foreign policy to Clinton -- a big, hungry, needy ego surrounded by a team that’s hungrier and needier still -- strikes me as a mistake of potentially enormous proportions."

Hillary has displayed none of the characteristics you mention during her time in the Senate. And I'm not sure what "team" you're referring to that would demonstrate these traits either. Personally, as I have read the names floated for Obama's cabinet over these past weeks, I've found it quite disturbing that the team couldn't seem to find more than 3 or 4 women to consider for any of these posts (and 2 of them - Rice and Jarrett - were duplicate choices for several positions). Hillary is, by far, one of the strongest candidates under consideration by the transition team for any of the cabinet positions. I take your point about Bill and his potential conflicts of interest; however, Obama is floating several of his corporate "bundlers" for important positions as well, and you don't seem too concerned about that. This point has also been mentioned, but Obama's message of "change we can believe in" seems to translate into stocking his senior ranks with former Clinton administration folks - so I'm not sure why folks are so rankled in this sense by Hillary as a potential Secretary of State.

Posted by: JMS7 | November 18, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I've read a number of Lincoln bios, including Team of Rivals. The idea of coopting your political opponents, and thereby mollifying their constituencies, was a clever one and in the long run it probably did help Lincoln hold the North together long enough to win the war. What no one ever talks about though is that Lincoln's administration was catastrophically chaotic for the first, maybe, three years. His rivals didn't respect him, fought among themselves, decision making was slow and erratic, process and oversight were nonexistant. He was dismally unpopular until he finally started winning the war, right before the election for his second term. What finally ended up making the team of rivals work was that Lincoln was gradually able to win the respect and loyalty of his cabinet (at least most of them).

The only reason I can see this model making sense for Obama is if he really is planning to make major, groundbreaking changes. In that case, having the "Hillary voters" on board, not just to elect him but to continue to support controversial policies, would be smart. It would be a way to hold the Democratic party together through potentially divisive fights. However, he would have to be able to do what Lincoln did -- win the loyalty of people who at the moment care more about their own ideas and careers than about Obama and his vision for the future. If not, he risks the chaos and infighting of the early Lincoln administration.

(And even at that, I really have to wonder why Scty of State for Clinton? Something in the domestic arena makes more sense for her, but maybe he thought she wouldn't take anything less.)

Posted by: Jenny6 | November 18, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I agree wholeheartedly with this assessment. Why the Obama transition team feels Sen. Clinton is the best candidate for this appointment is beyond me. I just don't understand why anyone who has been unapologetically wrong about the biggest foreign policy decision in a generation is the first choice to be Sec. of State. It's unbelievable. Only in establishment Washington can this become conventional wisdom and seen as logical. Throw in all the "stuff" surrounding the Clintons and this is a bad, bad idea. The people who voted for Barack Obama did so, in part, because they wanted a break with U.S. foreign policy. Sen. Clinton represents the more hawkish wing of the Democratic party. The wing of the party that thought Iraq was the right thing; that a hard and aggressive posture towards Iran is right; and that we shouldn't negotiate with our enemies. What in her tenure in the Senate and during the campaign suggests that she deserves to head up U.S. foreign policy? Why do we continue to reward politicians, pundits, and pseudo-intellectuals who are wrong?

Posted by: tonyharris | November 18, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Hillary is qualified to President, qualified to be Senate Majority Leader, and overqualified for the Vice-Presidency and the Secretary of State.

Obama isn't qualified for any of these positions...that's why he's turning to those who are.

His supporters thought he was for change. Turns out he's for a third term of Clinton. Too bad we picked Clinton-lite when we could have had a real Clinton, but at least Hillary will be there to run a Shadow Government and take over for real in 2012 or 2016!

Posted by: DJK1 | November 18, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton is smart and she is a professional. Commentators thought that Obama had given her and President Clinton too much space at the Democratic Convention this summer, but Senator Clinton proved herself gracious when she called for the convention to nominate President-elect Obama by acclamation. It was an important unifying moment. Senator Clinton was true to her word when she worked hard for him on the campaign trail.

Senator Clinton is a person who understands the details of a number of problems; her voice at the foreign policy table along with that of Vice-president elect Biden will be valuable. However, I think that her performance since the end of the primary season shows that she will be able to work with a team and understand that Barack Obama is the president.

She is an ambitious woman who wants her own legacy. She is a staunch Democrat who wants to see the success of Democratic ideas. Thus, she will work for success.
Barack Obama's star power is beyond anything that Senator Clinton can diminish.
This is a team of rivals that can work

Posted by: justpeacetheoryvalerie | November 18, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

There appear to be few comments here from supporters of the Clintons, so I will wade in, just so this viewpoint is represented.

The presidential campaign was very painful for women. We watched the Clintons being trashed by the media and supporters of BO, then we watched the spectacle of the cynical Palin nomination. Many of us are still angry and are looking for an opportunity to heal those wounds so that we can support BO enthusiastically after being forced to vote for him just because we're faithful Democrats.

The appointment of HRC as SoS is such an opportunity. I wouldn't have suggested it, or any other position for that matter. I expected nothing from BO for HRC after he refused to even consider her for VP. However, BO has now backed himself into this corner on his own initiative and he has little alternative now but to move forward.

None of the objections of HRC's appointment as SoS are new. Every accusation was raised repeatedly during the nomination race. BO cannot now claim that he has just learned of legitimate reasons why her appointment is not feasible. To do so would be to admit to a monumental blunder or a cynical attempt to remove her from the political arena. Either explanation is going to be difficult for her millions of supporters to swallow.

The only choice for BO that would be even worse would be the appointment of Richardson as SoS. I suppose those who consider him a superior candidate have forgotten his traitorous reneging of promises made to the Clintons not to endorse anyone if he could not endorse HRC. Pres Clinton GAVE Richardson many prestigous appointments, none of which he was strictly speaking qualified for. Such disloyalty should not be rewarded. Some may have forgotten. Supporters of HRC have NOT forgotten.

Millions of supporters of HRC are watching and hoping that Obama will take this opportunity to turn us into his supporters.

Posted by: YellaDog | November 18, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I sense a certain amount of Clinton Derangement Syndrome prevalent here. Obama is in over his head, and is clueless, which is why he is surrounding himself with former Clintonistas. He should be so lucky to govern as successfully as Bill Clinton did. In fact he is surrounding himself with former Clintonistas because he wants to be the new Bill Clinton who is loved by the people, has a 67% favorabilily rating and whose wife, Hillary, has 18 million loyal voters. He'll never be half as good as President as Clinton was, and he'll never have the reverence, the admiration and the unfailing support and loyalty that Hillary Clinton has from her supporters and that Bill Clinton still has with the traditional base. Obama didn't win those voters over, 19% of those Hillary supporters voted for McCain. He lost those voters not just because they were loyal to Hillary, but because he couldn't convince them he could be trusted, and they didn't then, and still don't believe he is experienced enough to be the President. Obama may be the favored son of the far left so called "progressives", but the Clintons, both of them, own the hearts and minds of the traditional base of Democrats and they always will. I suspect Obama understands that, its a pity the Democratic Party doesn't. Appointing Hillary as Secretary of State would be a coup for Obama, he should consider himself lucky it she accepts. The base would love the respect that he would be showing her. But as loyal Clintonista, I would prefer she stay in the Senate and keep working for the people. And challenge Obama in 2012. And I honestly believe he is offering this position to Hillary precisely to keep that challenge in 2012 from happening.

Posted by: stillfightin | November 18, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Obama knows that Bill's dealings could disqualify her and he is trying to get her out of the way, rattle Bill's cage and satisfy the fervent Hillaryites that he's at least tried to work her in, before he names his real first choice. Also, in a world populated by alpha-male leaders of color, would a woman get the respect needed. Condi certainly has gotten nowhere in her tenure. Maybe the softer, darker and less dramatic and ego-driven Bill Richardson would be the better messenger for the powerful Obama brand internationally.

Posted by: BennyFactor | November 18, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

if just one or two of you guy's that have worked with HRC could point to some sort of example of HRC's "brilliance", we out here in t.v. land could better be able to consume your bullets. I don't see it. Like others who devour fiction, I devour books and current events to get a measure of a politico. Reduce this and it rveals a petty politico. Rodham Clinton otherwize is her campaign.... "hard working white people" and "obliterating" Iran. Neither would seem congruent with Chief diplomat. So.... I'll chaulk this one up to political expediency. Also, I read a quote from Hillaryland (Carvel), that no one had called them to tell them to "tamp it down", which could be similar to the V.P. bum rush.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 18, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

On the one hand, Hillary is famous and bossy enough to get State some badly needed attention and funds...that is, if Hillary will even think about the organization and not just herself. If she could put aside her personal political ambitions and try to forge relationships with people at State, look out for their welfare, get some money and respect for Foreign Service Officers, stop the fund bleeding at Embassy Baghdad...then great. But would she be willing to do that? Or would she spend her time glad-handing the big names with Bill? And surround herself with back-stabbing, rabid Clintonistas?

Posted by: possum_pouch | November 18, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

But as loyal Clintonista, I would prefer she stay in the Senate and keep working for the people. And challenge Obama in 2012. And I honestly believe he is offering this position to Hillary precisely to keep that challenge in 2012 from happening.

Posted by: stillfightin | November 18, 2008 1:56 PM


so dumb I bet it hurts. Obama WON despite the Clintons. HRC NEEDS this because she has lost the black vote nationally and in New York. You don't recall "hard working white people" but African Americans do. Rodham Clinton is petty and up to her eyeballs in Wall Street and Hedge Funds. As for 2012... BRING IT ON! She stole the money she needed to get started last time.... and her fundraising has dried up towards negative. All she has is you koolaid drunks.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 18, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Obama needs to think long and hard about this, least he end up with a parallel Presidency on his hands. This vaudevillian witch undoubtedly would run Foggy Bottom as a stage for her own future challenge to Obama should he prove unable to completely reverse the damage of the present administration. It was just such a challenge from Kennedy that harmed Carter in 1980.

Posted by: slim2 | November 18, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Hillary has been quite hawkish, voting for the war in Iraq and threatening to obliterate Iran. Such actions are not commensurate with being America's top diplomat. If Obama decides to negotiate with the Iranians, I don't see Ahmedinejad or the Iraninan clerics being willing make any deals with Hillary after her threats. I would say Hillary's appointment would not be good for the prospects of peace in the middle east

Posted by: scoolio | November 18, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I would expect Hillary bashing from longtime readers of WP, but this is ridiculous. It took reading three quarters of the posted comments to find one sympathetic response to Obama's choice of Hillary for Secretary of State.
Two things come to mind; Hillary might never and I'm sure she never plans too, run for the Presidency of the United States with this kind of hysteria and undeserved hatred towards her!
Second, this is just the kind of decision I expect from Obama, who is partisan bent, can't make a decision and equivocates on EVERYTHING.
Otherwise, Hillary might make as good a Secretary of State as any other person in America. Let's not forget that George Schultz vetted George W. Bush for the position of President of the United States. HOW GOOD A DECISION WAS THAT????

Posted by: ama2002 | November 18, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I supported Hillary until the end of the primaries, donating more money than I've ever given to a political campaign. But even then, at the back of my mind I was worrying "what about Bill". Yes, I also think he was a brilliant president (despite a zipper problem), and would make a great ambassador. But whatever position Hillary is appointed to, Bill will be part of the package - and I don't think SoS is appropriate. I also don't think SoS is appropriate for Hillary. And I would wonder how well she would be representing President Obama's positions rather than what she believes to be the best position.

I'd much rather see her remain in the Senate until there is a Supreme Court vacancy, and I think she would be a superb Supreme Court justice.

Posted by: vklip | November 18, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

If Obama really thinks he is capable of handling a "Team of Rivals" then he really does have an unmerited high opinion of himself.

You may be a great orator mr. obama, but that is the only thing, I repeat the only thing you share with Lincoln.

Get real. You didn't win the presidency. The GOP gave it to you. To claim a mandate based on the election would be to decieve yourself even more...ssj.

Posted by: mn11347 | November 18, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Two words regarding the Secretary of State position: Chuck Hagel. 1) Despite his years in the Senate, he is considered part of the "change" agenda spearheaded by Obama based on his record of independent and pragmatic decision-making; 2) He is respected within Middle East-oriented circles as someone who is serious about security AND peace, US interests AND human rights, and a more balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is long overdue; and 3) as a Republican (albeit a moderate to liberal one) and former infantry, he can navigate through the many foreign policy interests of both parties and speak with authority on military issues.

Posted by: samjones1 | November 18, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse


more like random thoughts strung together... time to retire dave and let some young blood into the the post ...

Posted by: thegwoe | November 18, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton has shown time and again to be extremely intelligent and a tireless worker. She had once chosen Health Care as her issue and very nearly got universal care through the DC system. Many of the idea she helped develop, with input from multiple sides, are now in play as the nation tries once again to tackle the problem. Even the best-connected Senator, Ted Kennedy, has yet to pull together such a comprehensive program.

She has as broad a background (now, now) as anyone for this job. She personally knows people on all sides through her own White House years, her charity works, and her years as Senator. I am not one to deride her for confusing details on one of many trips to see the troops, to help the poor of the world, or to meet with the most powerful leaders of the world.

Hillary Clinton has no reason to fell threatened by her global counterparts; she will pull this off with grace, diplomacy, and high intelligence, as well her staff. She has stood for the same agenda that Barack Obama and his supporters have been pulling for; there is no threat to his policies not being carried out.

There are too many positive reasons for her to be Secretary of State that excuses for her becoming Madame Secretary simply pall in comparison. Petty excuses for petty people. Welcome to the new order of things, where bravery, intelligence, and broad perspective win out over small ideas. We've had eight years of smallness, America; let's give it up.

Posted by: rdepontb1 | November 18, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I hope Hillary will decline the offer to become the Secretary of State.

Here are 2 good reasons :

1. Every cabinet member, including the Secretary of State, is expendable. Sometimes the Secretary of State is forced to resign for unforseen reasons and with no fault on the part of the Secretary. Few Secretaries of State last for an entire Presidential admninistration. There may be a power or philosophical clash between the President and the Secretary. If so, the President must prevail. If Hillary as Secretary of State is forced to resign, it will damage Hillary, Barack, and the interests of the United States.

2. Ted Kennedy is nearing the end of his long career as the spokesperson for the liberal wing of the Democratic party. If she remains in the Senate, Hillary will be the most famous and unique Senator. She will become the "go to" person to move the legislative agenda through the American political process. When Hillary speaks, her words are in the evening news. She is simply too valuable to leave.

There are many people who are qualified to be Secretary of State, but there is only one Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: carlhcarl | November 18, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

This sorry critique of the Clintons and the cast of the Obama Administration's foreign policy team utterly lacks credibility coming from someone who thinks George Shultz was effective as Secretary of State.

Let's look at the record: Shultz committed war crimes as the man at State on whose watch the Iran-Contra treason unfolded. Iran-Contra killed 25,000 innocent Nicaraguan civilians and undermined American prestige abroad for years afterward.

For those who have forgotten that chapter of the 1980's, it would be like secretly selling arms to the Taliban out of the White House basement and using the $ to fund a secret war against Venezuela using Colombian drug lords as our mercenaries.

There's no chance for Hillary to be Senate Majority Leader, so a cabinet position is in order. I think she'd also work as SecDef, where she has done yeoman work on the Armed Services Committee, but State is even better. We have enormous work to do to rehabilitate our image abroad, and I think that Hillary, Biden, and Obama are all on the same page about foreign policy. There are plenty of hot spots to keep them all busy, and Obama might have his hands full on domestic policy. For that matter, we could use to put Bill Richardson in the mix.

Posted by: Outrager | November 18, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Better Sec of State than Supreme Court Justice. Well, she wouldn't be confirmed for that position.

Leave her in the Senate.

Posted by: AbolhassanBaniSadr | November 18, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

As the idea of HillRod as SecState sets in, the more luster it loses. This article was an excellent articulation of the reasons why she should not be made SecState. But, unlike with the Veep selection, Mr. Obama can say at least she was vetted and considered. Bill Richardson is the best choice here. He has already proven he can get things done in foreign policy, he understands energy issues, and he works well with Mr. Obama. Last, but not least, it places a Hispanic in a high profile Cabinet position. His heritage will be a helpful asset- especially repairing the disasterous and deteriorating relationship with Latin America we've seen under George Bush.

Posted by: Pat17 | November 18, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

THIS HAS ALL THE MAKINGS OF A GOOD OLD FASHIONED CHICAGO STYLE GANG HIT. Anyone who seriously thinks that the self-enraptured, grandiloquent President Elect Barack Obama -- he of two autobiographies before age 45 -- is going to be upstaged by either one of the Clintons is simply naive.

THIS IS GOING TO BE A POLITICAL WHACKING, without leaving any BO fingerprints. Hillary will go before the Senate for confirmation hearings and -- BANG -- it will be the political and PR equivalent of "Tommy" going to get "made" in "Goodfellas". Those billing records? Those land deals? Those mirrored accounts in the futures markets?

ALL that stuff is fair play, come the hearings. Hillary will be lucky not to perjure herself trying to make sense of it all (in fact, she probbaly will perjure herself)

No graceful exit. No becoming the "Grand Damme" of the Senate once Teddy moves on to join his brothers.

Nope, Obama's gonna whack her, Chicago Style, and there won't be ANY fingerprints. Mark my words.

Posted by: GOPNYC | November 18, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

It is certainly not a bland choice, is it! There are some drawbacks and concerns I have about it, some of which are stated here, but all in all I trust the President Elect's judgment on this. Senator Clinton has some wonderful attributes that would lend themselves to the Sec of State position. Although she may have to curb a tendency to chart her own course, she is also a proven team player. Meanwhile Obama is a remarkably good manager and communicator and if he is clear with his Secretary of State whoever it is, that person will have all the information they need to stay on message and also make the nuanced choices on the fly the position demands (the very thing I believe Senator Clinton would excel at). It may not be a total meeting of the minds, but it should prove to be a very profitable working relationship for this country if expectations are set and agreed upon before hand by both parties. I believe that agreement must have already been reached or we wouldn't even be having the conversation.

Posted by: learningisjoy | November 18, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Oh ye of little faith. First they didn't think he could defeat her. Now they don't think he can manage her. An effective manager can manage anyone. Think iron-clad contract. Both Clintons hold up their end of the deal, or they're gone. Period.

Posted by: DoTheMath | November 18, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Ignatius, I feel your opinion on this matter is lacking in "imagination" as well as stuck in a very narrow and stale view regarding Hillary and Bill Clinton. Their support of Obama and clear imperative to do what is best for the country has been impeccable and statesmanlike. Hillary can't be Secretary of State because her ego is too big? Pathetic. Surely you can do better.

Posted by: mark9 | November 18, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Ignatius is confusing Senator Clinton's ego with that of her husband, former president Clinton. No one who knows the senator well would describe her as having a "big, hungry, needy ego." I actually don't think this is the best route for Senator Clinton, but Ted Kennedy -- who does in fact have a "big, hungry, needy ego" is determined to spearhead healthcare reform himself, as his last and perhaps greatest Senate achievement. The task force leadership role he has assigned to Senator Clinton is not much of a consolation prize.

Mr. Ignatius is also clearly unable to differentiate between Senator Clinton, who will electrify the world in a positive way as Secretary of State, and the past administrations of her husband. HRC is, in her own way, a strong agent of change. President-elect Obama is supremely confident, and he has made a brilliant choice. What is astonishing is that so many rank-and-file Obama supporters seem unwilling or unable to recognize this, and to trust his judgment. Perhaps they should have a bit more faith in him, and not let their visceral dislike of the Clintons sway them. As for Ignatius, I feel quite certain Mr. Obama is not going to allow an op-ed column to change his mind. President-elect Obama knows what he's doing. We should all simply let him do it.

Posted by: ezr1 | November 18, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I am in agreement with this article and the vast majority of comments. There are three positions I would be happy to see Hillary in ... President, the Senate and Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. She missed the first but has worked for a long time in preparation for the third. But then HEW is not high profile enough, unless I misread her.

Posted by: LHO39 | November 18, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I guess Obama really had to promise this to Hillary to get her to concede and not divide the party. That's the only reason I can come up with for Obama to make what seems like a suboptimal choice for Secretary of State. Mostly, a president needs a Secretary of State to push the president's agenda. Why put someone in who is likely to have her own agenda? Doesn't seem like a good choice.

Posted by: postfan1 | November 18, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama hasn't rolled the dice yet and if he appoints Clinton he will be rolling the dice with the odds against him. I don't want a gambler as president. Bill Richardson is the obvious choice. Respected at home and abroad.

Posted by: mogulman1 | November 18, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Emphatically, No. Three reasons why Hillary cannot serve in the Obama administration: Bill, Bill, Bill. Need three more reasons? Bill, Bill, Bill. Hillary and Bill have their own agenda, lust after creating their own political dynasty, and cannot be trusted to have Obama's best interests at heart. There are too many other good people out there for this position. She (or the two of them) is/are not a good choice.

Posted by: sailmaker1943 | November 18, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

All those democrats and anyone else posting here who voted for Obama needs to chill out. We gave him the job, now lets leave him to do it free from self appointed and by the sound of some of the comments slightly unhinged overseers. Clinton would be a great pick and along with the other appointments we've seen him already make shows that Obama knows what he's doing and has the self confidence to handle anyone he appoints. David Ignatius is no dummy but he does suffer from a bad case of anti Clintonitis. His judgement is also shaky at times like a little matter called Iraq, where he supported the invasion and Bushco for years.

Posted by: johnbsmrk | November 18, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I strongly agree with the article and most of the comments. HRC is a poor choice for SoS. She's displayed a real lack of diplomacy and a strong commitment to her agenda of building a personal power base by pandering to just about anyone...I recall her comment prior to Bill's first run...she wasn't into baking cookies...but in her bid for the nomination she went after the women's vote by crying about gender discrimination. I am a woman about her age and it killed me that other women fell for her line. I truly believe that she and Bill could undermine this change that we who voted for Barack Obama have so long awaited.

Posted by: donegal1 | November 18, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Obviously millions have supported THE Clintons.....but this is THE ERA of CHANGE...this is the reason overwhelmingly Barack Obama was elected. My HOPE extends into the future ....if there were deals to UPGRADE Hillary in exchange for an appointment that would back peddle on CHANGE that I Can Believe in ....I think it's a shame that it could be politics as usual..even though..sure The 2-4 the price of one Presidents Clinton in the 90's were supported and appreciated......Im soooo done with last Century....can we place MOVE ON?

Posted by: Judy4 | November 18, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The biggest political pay-back in American history, and everyone seems to love it. The message was sent loud and clear: the Clintons are no longer wanted in American politics, especially in leadership roles. If Mrs. Clinton's loss in the primaries wasn't obvious enough proof, then I suggest those people who don't believe it to roll over and go back to sleep: nothing will save them from their stupor.

Posted by: srpinpgh | November 18, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm astounded by the comments here, as well as the article. Obama has done NOTHING to indicate he will bring any sort of change to the White House. He reneged on 2 gigantic promises before even being elected: public campaign financing and FISA. Of all politicians to EVER run for any office, his ego has no equal. From the fake presidential seal to the greek columns to the disavowal of Rev. Wright, his every action has reeked of self-serving opportunism. Yes, he won the election, but hardly because the majority of his supporters believed in his solutions to any problems facing the country. He offered no clear solutions. It was a popularity contest. It was a marketing coup. David Axlerod should be the SOS.

I sincerely hope Obama proves to be a magnificent President, but this election, from the primary on, was a sham. That so many posters continue to revel in Hillary-bashing while chanting the grotesquely worn and soiled "change" mantra is beyond absurd.

Posted by: astro3 | November 18, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Better Sec of State than Supreme Court Justice. Well, she wouldn't be confirmed for that position.

Leave her in the Senate.

Posted by: AbolhassanBaniSadr | November 18, 2008 3:26 PM


can't get re-elected. Lost the black vote nationally and in New York specifically for her "hard working white people" strategy.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 18, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you Dave.

Clinton, both of them, have way too much baggage.

At a minimum, Clinton would overshadow Obama's message.

If Hillary wants out of the senate, let her head up chimpie's Office of Faith Based Initiatives and use her as weapon to beat up the GOP for four years. Or better yet, appoint her to run a 'truth and reconciliation' commission on 9-11 and Iraq.

Posted by: Heerman532 | November 18, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Slo, will the so-called mainstream newsmedia ever wake up and get over it's
constant Barack Hussein Obama Obession?
Isn't it time all the corruption of the
incoming phony crooked ACRON election stealer Barack Hussein Obama get thr real
attention it deserves not endless fluff
pieces on how great this phony Messiah
Barack Hussein Obama is supposed to be!
And WAPO your the worse example of it!

Posted by: sherrykay08 | November 18, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I see two things:

If HRC cannot manage to turn the NYS economy around (something I believe was a big political promise while campaigning) how can she be expected to negotiate international treaties?

If she does get the slot, will she turn into another Madeleine Albright who used her plane as a personal luggage carrier for carpets bought in exotic locales, all while denying emergency flight space for one of her Marine bodyguard who fell violently ill. (He had to go back via cargo plane)hours after her flight took off.

Posted by: SimpleObserver | November 18, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I really think a deal was made after the primaries. HRC held up for day's, unwilling to concede. I think she got a blanket "whatever I want" pledge. Done as a senator.... can anyone even imagine her at HHS?

Anyway... I just wanted to say I believe Obama was elected despite the Clinton's.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 18, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

When asked what should the US do if Iran attacked Israel, Hillary answered that she would "obliterate" Iran, not exactly diplomatic language.

Posted by: stanlippmann | November 18, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

oh look - another column of blather by one of the blowhards of the MSM allows the Hillary hating Obamamaniacs to go WHAAA!

Well go - Whaa all you l;ike - it was you fools who bought the msm driven attacks on Hillary during the primaries and now the Obama campaign is doing what was always expected - letting those with actual knowledge and experience ...GOVERN!

You all hated Rham - now he's in charge!

You all really hated Hillary - and now she will be co-in charge...,

Whaa- all you like - but this IS the Reality of the situation.


Posted by: holdencaulfield | November 18, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Re: The Best and the Brightest and the Out-to-Lunch

Good column, some of which I had not considered. But, historically speaking, we have had so many stellar, learned Secretaries of State, some with great full manes of graying hair, others dashing in tuxedos, but why dwell on Albright, almost all being able to pronounce foreign names flawlessly, you have to wonder if any of them have ever uttered the slightest peep of concern, official or otherwise, that there own nation, the nation that they represent, is routinely being invaded by millions of people. Guess not, probably too busy being whisked off in their official flag-festooned limo to the next glittering Champaign reception.

Posted by: tma_sierrahills | November 18, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

It'll be really interesting to see the final shake out with this. Glad so many people are tuned into Politics and really following it.

p.s. - case against Clinton??? Heard she wanted to run for a Mutant position :)

Posted by: weeklyworldnews | November 18, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton has a mind of her own. She is not the reflection of her husband. she is informed, seasoned,intelligent,accomplished, and willing to work towards solutions for our Nation.

Posted by: jheckerman | November 18, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

You know what? For the first time ever, I think Obama is smarter than you, David, smarter than me and smarter than just about all of the people who are weighing in here. I trust his judgment -- if he chooses Clinton then let's give her a chance to do what needs to be done. If he doesn't, I'm sure he will have made that decision for good reasons.

Posted by: lostintranslation | November 18, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

So Obama should not appoint Hillary because it might disappoint the rest of the world -- that's a great way to conduct US foreign policy!

It's impossible to evaluate who would be good as Secretary of State without also knowing who he will appoint as National Security Advisor. In many administrations its the latter who really calls the shots.

Hillary would be a fool to accept without knowing who the NSA will be. And she's no fool.

Obama has realized he picked a lemon as VP --that is why he's looking for an overpowering figure to steal the show from Biden.

Posted by: jwrabc | November 18, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, I enjoyed your article. I also enjoyed the last few responses...all in agreement with you. Its a welcome change from all the trash talking that was going on during the election where Obama and Hilary were concerned!

Obama has a chance to finally break free of the Clintons. She may have strong support, she may be very good in the Senate and may even have some concrete accomplishments along the way. However, Hillary and Bill....lets not pretend they do not come together to the party...have trampled their own party, the legal and political systems and disgraced the White House with lies, scandal and still unresolved financial questions.
It was revealed through internal memos and emails that her campaign was poorly run and suffered from leadership issues. P

Please at least consider the possibility of a Washington without the Clintons.


Posted by: twotraps | November 18, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

How could you include this in your article:

"Even among the followers of radical groups, such as Hamas and the Taliban, Obama has inspired a sense of change and opportunity."

You're saying the terrorists are cheering Obama on, which is undoubtedly true, but you're shooting yourself in the foot by saying the enemies of America in a sense have a friend in Obama.

You are, pardon the cliche, saying the terrorists have won.

At least you, unlike other liberals, are willing to admit it.

Posted by: vadum | November 18, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Is Hillary Clinton the most qualified Secretary of State? Is she even among the top ten? Can some non-partisan please take two minutes to explain to me what experience she has in this arena?

Don't the voters deserve the best option in such an important position or at the very least somebody in the top five or ten?

This reeks of gamesmanship and the same old style politics of payoffs and optics. I was hoping the change that was voted for was going to be real and tangible and progressive. Clearly it is not, if this appointment comes to pass.

Posted by: heffmanhere | November 18, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Why so negative about the bona fide winner of the Democratic primary? In fact, if the DNC hadn't stolen 4 delegates from HRC - that's right, voters in MI gave HRC 4 more delegates than she ended up with after the DNC Rules and By-laws Committee meeting - she would have tied him in pledged delegates. (And she beat him in the popular vote.) Why do you think the DNC settled on stealing only 4 votes? And neither had enough delegate votes to take the nomination, without the super delegates.
Now, the Electoral College is poised to cast their votes on December 15 for the man who lost the Democratic nomination. And no one has even verified he is a natural born citizen as required by the U.S. Constitution. But then, no provision of federal or state law says that anyone has to. So, no one did. Now, given the complicated legal and documentary analysis required to establish his eligibility, what is needed is a full airing of his legal status in federal court. But this means filing a suit that would survive a challenge to standing. And given the recent pronouncements by the court in the several cases now pending, maybe the only Plaintiffs who could establish standing necessary to force this inquiry are members of the military or National Guard scheduled for deployment or about to be scheduled for deployment to a combat zone; and members of their families.

Posted by: jbjdjbjd | November 18, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

I know...lets finally get a trial together for all the crap the Clintons have pulled over the years...They both belong in jail.

Look what happens when she does not get her way...remember the election, she held the whole show hostage, and her rabid supporters turned it into an embarrassing circus!! HOW MUCH MORE INFORMATION DO WE AS A NATION NEED TO FINALLY BE DONE WITH THE CLINTONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

Hillary is out for Hillary, and Bill for Bill. Thank goodness for her own hubris, it killed her campaign.

Posted by: twotraps | November 18, 2008 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Barack will come to regret his decision, if it becomes a done deal.

Posted by: tydicea | November 18, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Whoever it is will need to be extremely smart, shrewd and devoid of gullibility. Because thanks to Bush's blind ideology and willingness to spend his way to "power", the rest of the world have us around their little fingers right now.

Posted by: cmnsns | November 18, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

jbjdjbjd, are you serious? Selective memory is a problem here. Please review the events in their correct order and try again. Would you care to take a stab at how her campaign was decisions, hiring, firing willy nilly, lack of leadership, lurching unevenly from sharp attacks to crying at one point?? How's your memory now.

I do have to go shortly but I would love to go way back and ask you...a she managed to get into so much trouble with her own brothers in various pardon-granting schemes other consultations and get away with it all?? What about Bill and his going down to support Columbian free trade while his wife was running for President and was openly against it..................isn't that why they are vetting the former presdident right now. Was that little incident a preview of whats to come if we invite the Clintons back into the game??

Maybe we'll save that for another day.

Posted by: twotraps | November 18, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Well, it's pretty transparent. Reach out, give a carrot to the fem constituency, let Hill pick the plum. It may soothe her savaged ego. I don't believe SOS is a position best suited for her though. Yeah, she knows all the players but she does have an agenda unto herself, primarily aggrandizement in the sphere of realpolitix. Obama and company also know Bill's conflicts of interest may preclude her hire. If she manages to get in, her globe trotting will keep her at bay and out of the inner circle. Rahm Emmanuel whom Hill tried to fire when Bill was in office will make sure of that! I can already smell the tawdry friction of those two egos bumping and grinding! Ugh!

Posted by: boredwell | November 18, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Can someone who is a Democrat tell me if Democrats ever get along with each other?

Posted by: freespeak | November 18, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

So, is this Barack Hussein Obama first term
as President or Bill Clinton third term
as President? It's getting hard to tell the
difference with all the pathethic Clinton
Incompetents Obama keeps giving jobs in
whichever Administration we elected,Obama
one or Clinton three! Sure that's some
Change You Can Believe In You Got With
The Chicago Shyster Barack Hussein Obama!

Posted by: darlene80 | November 18, 2008 8:12 PM | Report abuse

See, you make my point! I question the vitriol hurled at HRC when, given the facts, she was the victim of a party (and MSM) that demonized her because they had chosen BO its winner, and she refused to go quietly into that good night. So, when winning by fiat didn't work, as you could have seen if you accessed the link I provided - unlike other posters, I never make specious claims; I always provide factual links to my pronouncements - they fudged the numbers. And not only did she win the nomination but, he has not even been vetted as to whether he is a natural born citizen. And, despite the fact this is a Constitutional requirement of the office, no law says anyone has to check! (I posted a link to a factual explanation of this process, too.) Yet, notwithstanding I have pointed to two truths that seem to have escaped the notice of the press but which critically impact our democracy, namely, the Democratic nomination was stolen and the man who stole it could be ineligible for the job, all I get back is disparaging remarks about HRC's relationships involving her brother! Obviously, the bitterness runs so deep that it impairs the ability to think first about acting in the best interest of the country.

Posted by: jbjdjbjd | November 18, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't agree more. This bad decision is well on the way to squandering Obama's, and the nation's, new-found social capital abroad. And with the return to the publicly drawn out drama of what Hilary does or does not want, and the return to Bill and Hill headlines, it is damaging Obama's domestic capital as well. No wonder there is enthusiasm in the Republican camp.

Posted by: jadler1 | November 18, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

jbjdjbjd....lets make a deal.

I concede that dragging her brother and any of the other unfinished scandals into this is not required. Its hard for me to get past however. As it seems hard for you to get past what plenty of other people had plenty of time to fully investigate, namely the election process.
Could you then, possibly, concede that before you ever mention what is 'in the best interest of the country' remember that the Clintons brought more shame and disgrace through lies and scandal than any other Presidency? Like it or not, right or wrong...were they not linked to some whopping scandals that served to distract and really just embarrass us as a nation?

Posted by: twotraps | November 18, 2008 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Well David, you may be right but we can hope for the best.

She might finally divorce Bill and solve that problem.

Obama may be man enough to develop and set his own foreign policy ala Nixon/Kissenger model and leave it to Hillary to execute. It does get to be important here who the National Security Advisor is.

I would have preferred Richardson myself, or a resurrection of General Powell, whose demonstrated loyalty to his president exceeds all Washington norms.

Wouldn't Hillary have been better placed as Secretary of Health?

Posted by: simpsonth | November 18, 2008 8:50 PM | Report abuse

hrc lost anybody with a brain when she went with her "hard working white people" strategy. Obama won the election despite the Clintons. She is not fit for diplomacy as she has already promised to obliterate Iran.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 18, 2008 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Real Brother here.

As for Hillary the last thing I'm gonna do is question Barack Obama and what he's gonna do. Remember, all of the pundits here never could have thunk that Obama would even be the president let alone after the fact question his judgement.

Now granted he wants to appease Hillary, he made promises to her, she had 18 million Black man hating lesbians who voted for her and all that. But still, I don't think Obama would put her in a position where she could embarrass Obama or his Administration or this Country.


Posted by: Realbrother0003 | November 18, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Please, I urge everyone to spend less time directing their energies at me and more time investigating the facts heretofore unprinted in the MSM. I used to post on this site daily; until the lack of comprehensive coverage of the primary/caucus fraud became so offensive, I could no longer legitimize this by my involvement. I cite to events wholly unaddressed by the MSM and you advise me to put these issues aside, as having already been fully examined. By whom? Did you work on the campaign? Do you know that, several states enacted laws requiring their pledged delegates to follow their candidates into the convention, while DNC rules only require pledged delegates to use their "good conscience"? Do you understand that, in most states, the party nominee whose name is submitted by the state party chair to the Secretary of State for placement on the general election ballot is entitled by law to get on the ballot? Do you see how this fails to provide any vetting as to the candidate's eligibility? Please, read the links. Spend your energy learning about how your government works. It is an in-depth knowledge of this process, acquired after innumerable hours of research, over the past several months, that precipitates the zealous opposition to Obama's candidacy, and not a blind allegiance to HRC. I am not bothered by the fact that my fellow citizens have voted for a man I consider to be wholly unqualified, in all respects, for office. But I cannot accept that in their ignorance of how this government works; and the role played by the private clubs that are our major political parties; they would foist upon me someone who, as far as anyone knows, may not be Constitutionally eligible for office. (Dozens of citizens are currently engaged in litigation trying to persuade the court to require production of documents that could settle the issue of Obama's eligibility; while this man who purportedly wants the job opposes their requests on the basis they lack standing. I cannot understand why my fellow citizens, who are in effect hiring this man for the highest office in the country, have not rejected his bid based on the fact, he doesn't want the job badly enough to prove he eligible to have it.)

Posted by: jbjdjbjd | November 18, 2008 9:11 PM | Report abuse

There is no against HRC. This column has no substance to show except the personal hatred of the columnist for Clintons. Typical WP thing that repeated time and again during the primaries. Several posts express hatred of small minded people who are still fighting the primary battle. I can give three reasons why HRC should reject this offer (if this is a sincere offer; which I doubt.):
1. The recession and oncoming depression will continue until 2010-11, which means democrats will lose heavily in the midterm elections making Obama vulnerable in 2012. HRC needs to keep her options open.
2. Obama is going to depend on his Chicago cronies to run his administration. Cabinet secretaries will have no real freedom. If there is any foreign policy mishap (which is bound to happen) this Obama group of cronies will blame it on HRC. She may be even fired for not towing the Obama line. Why should she ruin her political career for the ambitions of this crowd who already hate her more than anything else.
3. Senator from NY has the best job with Ted Kennedy on his way out. HRC will be the force in the Senate and Obama will depend on her to move key healthcare legislation through the Congress.

Hillary, please do not accept SOS position though you are the best qualified candidate for the job!

Posted by: ithinker | November 18, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

I think I have to say that Hillary shouldn't be the secretary of state due to the Clinton foundation. How would that work out? I understand that the foundation had been involved with a lot of work to fight poverty and what not, but they are also associated with too many foreign countries. Also Hillary will say and do anything to get an advantage. I like her for helping Obama, but she is just too damn ambitious. And with Hillary always comes Bill, and we know what he can be like sometimes. Plus, it involves vetting the Clintons of all people! It would just be better to perhaps choose Richardson or Kerry, as they wouldn't bring so many potential conflicts of interests and I think Obama could trust them more.

Posted by: mt7787 | November 18, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse

3. Senator from NY has the best job with Ted Kennedy on his way out. HRC will be the force in the Senate and Obama will depend on her to move key healthcare legislation through the Congress.

Hillary, please do not accept SOS position though you are the best qualified candidate for the job!

Posted by: ithinker | November 18, 2008 9:21 PM

thing is stinker... she is bum rushing for the job BECAUSE she is unelectable in New York. Lost the black vote when she went with her "hard working white people" and Rev. Wright dog whistles. As for 2012... again, lost the black vote as well Nationally.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 18, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Well, I don't guess my lengthy "favorable" post about Hillary will be allowed, so let me say...

Thanks jbjdjbjd for carrying the torch for our side!!

Posted by: karenmb | November 18, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Obama doesn't care how effective Hillary would be he just wants her out of the Senate where she has an idependent power base, and won't necessarily roll over and play dead for him. But who cares...what is scary about the article is the comment that Hamas and the Taliban have a sense of hope about Obama's election, Radical groups? I hope you meant radical terrorist groups? The fact that those terrorist, anti-semitic, dictatorial, murderous groups are hopeful about Obama means they think he will support them, or at least won't obstruct their desire to take complete power in their areas, and destroy Israel. Let's pray he dashes their hopes!!!!

Posted by: valwayne | November 18, 2008 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Ignatius, I found your comments on HRC to be ignominious. Particularly your conclusion that she has a "big, hungry, needy ego" which is unsupported by fact, and frankly mean-spirited. Your concern that she won't win a popularity contest in Europe and the Middle East is baseless- she is well-respected around the world. A world in which the U.S.A. ranks 27th for # of women in positions of political power, by the way. The continued animosity towards Hillary Clinton shows why we are behind most of Europe, and countries like Tobago for # of women with decision-making positions. many Americans are threatened by, and work to defeat, strong, capable women like Hillary Clinton. The only woman who made it to the White House this year did it the old fashioned way- she is married to the candidate. Even she, Michelle Obama, has had to issue endless reassurances to the public that No, she will not be involved in policy, and Yes, her main focus is her children. In short, she had to project a traditional, domestic image to avoid threatening the electorate..she wouldn't want us to think she has a "big, hungry needy ego."

Posted by: scribe15 | November 18, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

to angriestdogintheworld ...

Do you happen to have the ability to put just one quote in it's proper context?!?! Maybe an original thought would be handy as well. Must I explain the "hardworking white people" comment to you?!?! Did you hear the interview??? No, I didn't think so. Let me explain this to you. Hillary was merely quoting an AP article, in which the article referred to the "hardworking white people" who were voting for Hillary. She was paraphrasing...get it?!?!? She wasn't getting many of the hardworking "black" vote, you see. You have to really stretch the context to infer anything at all, but go ahead, don't let facts get in your "little" way.....

Posted by: karenmb | November 18, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

The reason that Obama shouldn't appoint Clinton Secretary of State is because of the press' sick obsession with the Clintons.

Clinton is completely qualified, but you can't stay away from this twisted garbage about he hungry, needy ego.

Clinton brought us 8 years of stability, but you can't get over your obsession. You hounded him with phony scandals and gave us George Bush. Now you hound his wife.

Most of us wouldn't care, but you've destroyed the economy and got us into an illegal war, and you still won't grow up.

Posted by: don8 | November 18, 2008 10:31 PM | Report abuse

don8...I concur with you totally!

There has never been another political couple put through the microscopic mutilation the Clintons have endured. It is absolutely amazing!! After the taxpayers spent $80 million to investigate the Clintons, the final conclusion was: No other President has been investigated so thoroughly with so little wrongdoing found!

I am an ardent Hillary supporter, but I don't think she's perfect, nor does she "walk on water", however, when I balance the disproportionate character assassinations against the good works the Clintons have done, I think the good and noble far outweigh the bad!

I love how folks like to rehash talking points,e.g., ego, power hungry....when referring to the Clintons. I'd like for somebody to name me one national political figure who isn't a bit narcissistic and definitely power hungry. Stop with all the double standards for crying out loud!!

Posted by: karenmb | November 18, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to David Ignatius for these wise words. I thought Obama ran the smartest campaign I ever saw. Now, in one fell swoop, he's taken a good bit of the euphoric bloom off of his election rose, with his strongest supporters, by even suggesting Hillary for Secretary of State. Obama won Iowa for one simple reason: He was right on Iraq while Hillary was wrong. Obama's supporters are highly savvy people. They know that Hillary supported the war in Iraq partly to please AIPAC and neocons in New York. (Most Jews, of course, were and are liberals who opposed the war from the start, but that's a different story.) In her campaign, Hillary demagogued neocon Jews within the Democratic Party, especially in Florida, by announcing her eager willingness to "obliterate" Iran for Israel if necessary. Hillary's conservative, big-money Jewish supporters, like Lady de Rothschild, want her to convince Obama to bomb Iran to take the heat off of Israel by doing this terrible deed for it, since the bombing will cause devastation to the world economy, and our own, by skyrocketing the price of oil when the world is already on the brink of Depression. Hillary at Obama's ear is, de facto, a Democratic version of Lieberman at McCain's. This is NOT what Obama's supporters voted for. Making Hillary the voice of American foreign policy will be, for Obama's strongest supporters, a bit like Bush I's betrayal of his tax injunction to "read my lips." His popularity will never fully recover among the voters for whom his freshness and integrity meant the most.

Posted by: jeanrenoir | November 18, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

KarenMB, please say it isn't and jbjdjbjd should have a fine time together. I remain shocked at the blind support given to the Clintons. No Clinton supporter will accept facts, making it very difficult to have a sane conversation with!!

jbjdjbjd, I think I understand your not being happy with the way the govt. works and some of the inner workings of the electorate do need to be changed, most would agree. However, when faced with direct challenge to the credibility/suitability of Hillary for Sec of run back to your argument about not being happy about how govt. works...refusing to address how manipulative and polarizing the Clintons are. You, or any supporter chiming in, can't seem to accept that her campaign was poorly run. The 'campaign' did prove quite entertaining but could also be a microcosm of how Hillary operates in decision making situations. Situations involving money/finance, personnel, logistics, strategy etc. What do any of you supporters have to say about that? Was there any miscalculation whatsoever there? She had a name, loads of cash and huge talent. She was broke last January, and firing her then campaign manager shortly thereafter!! Please consider that some of her result in the election was due to her own decision making........not the media, or 'women haters' or even 'Hillary haters'. Why can't people admit that her poor decisions were adding up and became too much to overcome in the end.

Now, months later, (much of the time spent trying to get people to give money BACK to her own account, fundraising for herself) Hillary is back and ready to take on the Sec of State position.

I really hope this is a chance for the US Govt, with all its flaws, to move on quietly without the Clintons.


Posted by: twotraps | November 18, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I am stunned, once again, by the vitriol and mean-spirited comments posted here. My family is German, and my uncle and all of his friends LOVE the Clintons. Who in the world said that they had 8 years to improve our foreign relations and didn't? Are you high? Were you around in the 90s? I have first-hand knowledge and believe me, they are THRILLED with the Clintons. I followed them in India (by luck) in the late 90s and every single person had extremely appreciative things to say about them.

Power-hungry? And Obama isn't? EVERY politician is. It's just like all of the people who thought Obama was "different" - and then he voted FOR wiretapping after he campaigned against it. And Iraq? Do you think he'll withdraw in the first year? Of course not. I voted for Barack, respect him, but I am so sick and tired of all of you people vilifying the Clinton years when they by far gave us the best years we've had here in decades.

The only thing I can think is that we still aren't ready for a female leader. You people with all of your hate show that.

Posted by: sc_mars | November 18, 2008 11:15 PM | Report abuse

And another thing. The lesbian comment I saw above is despicable. It's apparently okay to throw whatever sexist language you want at women, but it's not okay to throw it back at you. Black man hating? You disgust me.

We rank 27th is number of women in power! Where are all of the outraged people? Bill Clinton had the MOST number of women in positions of power than any other president. Obama is looking to reverse that trend (from what we see).

Where is the outrage? Why is it okay to oppress women?

I'm so disgusted

Posted by: sc_mars | November 18, 2008 11:21 PM | Report abuse

sc_mars, sorry mate, my family is german as well....and they seem to think that prosperity and peace are one thing..................national and international disgrace, again and again are another thing. All I ask is that one Clinton supporter at least admit that the Clintons disgraced the White House and country with their antics. It has little to do with being power hungry, or ambitious.

Why not face the issue before you call us 'haters'. Do you really think all the hype against the Clintons us unfair and totally made up by people envious of their success??

Will you at least comment on her stellar decision making in her own campaign, and how that translates into some higher office?

Be specific now, I know its getting late but think hard.

Posted by: twotraps | November 18, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

sc_mars, there are plenty of women ready to take positions in the govt. that do not have a laundry list of unfinished/unresolved legal scandal dragging behind them. Plenty of women with integrity, that have not lied or set the world record for saying ' I cannot recall ' in front of a grand jury. Plenty of women that don't miss speak, or miss-remember on a regular basis.

C'mon, we can have some fun with the whole 'miss-remembering' issues!!

Its not about women. I would love to see a woman as president and it will happen some day. I welcome it. The way she has clawed her way to the top, she may have done a disservice to women actually playing by the rules and meaning to do well with their careers.

I doubt Hillary deserves your strong support. Lots of us support women in charge, just not the liars and manipulators. Its a shame because she was in a spot to do so much good.


Posted by: twotraps | November 18, 2008 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Mr Ignatius, Thanks for the article. You are so right, the case against Hillary is a plausible one, and one which makes the strongest argument. In the end it will be Mr. Obama trying to put a political move on a situation - and not the leadership that the uneducated masses thought they were voting for. Inexperience begets - inexperience. At the end of the day, who is Secretary of State doesn't matter - it will be Obama who fancies himself the "WeltPrasident", so he will make US policy. The "grunt" work is not important, which is why Hillary is not ready to do this. She is about power, not adminsitration.

Posted by: jgdonahue | November 18, 2008 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Great idea. It gets Hillary out of the domestic policy arena where she would be a huge force for radical marxist change. She will be even more obnoxious than Madeleine Halfwit, which will drive the Muslims to apoplexy. She is also slightly less likely than Obama to throw Israel under the bus. Plus it would be more difficult for the press to ignore Bill's crooked foreign dealings.

Posted by: doctorfixit | November 19, 2008 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Hillary would be good at State, but better in charge of the Pentagon. When Gates leaves, and Obama should consider retaining him, Clinton would be an inspired choice.

As for the Senate, they'd be wise to give Hillary what she wants there. She is most influential legislator in the world ... by a lot. Seniority may count, but they can't be stupid about it. Reid should step aside and give the job to Hillary.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | November 19, 2008 1:24 AM | Report abuse

"The least effective I can remember was Sen. Ed Muskie".

Perhap Muskie was the "least effective" but Rice was the most damaging and she leaves the world a much more dangerous place than she found it.


Posted by: redmike | November 19, 2008 2:51 AM | Report abuse

I don't know why she'd want the job myself. Secretary of State is going to be a pretty dull job in a way. Kind of the doldrums as it were. The action is going to be in Congress for the next few years. They're going to be like a dogfight. Angrily fighting for scraps for their State if they're worth a damn. Times are going to be tough that's when the tough get fighting. State is going to really be a pain in the ass. Lot's of running around with your hand out smoothing all the collective feathers and in general applying your lips to starfish every day with a smile on your face.


Posted by: elgunjduts | November 19, 2008 3:12 AM | Report abuse

dang... karenmb -- kill the messenger. I didn't go with the "hard working white people" or turning Rev. Wright into a "wedge" issue, which makes me not responsible for the fact that HRC has lost the black vote in New York and thus can not be re-elected and so must bum rush the stage for a cabinet slot she has shown to be not congruent with diplomacy (obliterate Iran). Your swf facination with Rodham Clinton is maybe like what realbrother has noticed, some sort of female homosexual hate of Obama...

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 19, 2008 4:06 AM | Report abuse

Sen Clinton's strength and future impacts on a serious level lie in the Senate. The fact she is disgruntled (if this is true) with her position , or lack thereof, in the Senate does suggest someone looking for a stage... have we found what draws Bill and Hilary together? Not a good omen...

Posted by: vtcxc | November 19, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

The choice of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State is a huge mistake. Hillary has proven beyond all shadow of douobt that she is not a team player. She suffers from delusions of grandeur and is far, far to sympathetic to the racist state of Israel to ever play the role of honest broker in the Middle East. Let us pray that President-elect Obama reverses this decision and finds some other job for her or just lets her go back to the Senate.

Posted by: dsrobins | November 19, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

No Drama trades his "cool card" for her "drama card." ...the start is no answer, foot dragging, appeasement and a future with an Obama administration trying to hide from a world the awkward, out of sync dance that shall go on with the Clintons. Who gains, what is the cost and how long can the toes our hold up?

Posted by: vtcxc | November 20, 2008 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton has the experience to be a productive, good Secretary of State, but hers and Bill Clinton's closets are too full of bones that would serve as a continual distraction to Obama's well intended plans to heal the reputation of our country.If appointed, there will be a continual cloud of contentious chatter from the "Clinton Haters" on the right and some on the left. As a devoted Obama Supporter, I respect his decision to fill his Administration with whom ever he believes is best suited for the job, but I would rather him pass on Hillary Clinton as Sec. of State.

Posted by: ccclam | November 20, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

His supporters thought he was for change. Turns out he's for a third term of Clinton. Too bad we picked Clinton-lite when we could have had a real Clinton, but at least Hillary will be there to run a Shadow Government and take over for real in 2012 or 2016!

Posted by: DJK1 | November 18, 2008 1:47 PM

Delusional ... the one thing that would completely destroy any potential for 2012 for HRC is to have her in Obama's cabinet ... doing his bidding ... implementing his policies. I happen to agree with Ignatius that she would be much more effective on the Hill, but I certainly understand Obama's reasoning in offering her this plum spot. Keep your friends close ... and your enemies closer.

Posted by: Omyobama | November 20, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Lets face it, Obama will choose the person he feels will be best for the job and all of the speculation and hyperbole will not
make a difference. I would not like to see
any sitting Democratic Senator picked for the cabinet as they are needed right where they are. And I doubt that Harry Reid will go down as Majority leader without a fight.

Posted by: Abbcer | November 20, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Whatever choice President-Elect Obama makes is fine with me. It's his choice and I have confidence in his leadership and judgment.

Posted by: maryspera | November 20, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Well said all. The truth is that Hillarious and Slick Willie are too past and too incompetent. The recent leaks alluding to the campaign debt and Willie's greed are too much in the forefront. As a New Yorker, I certainly would hope that Hillarious would go somewhere out of the country and even more preferable without portfolio. This is a wantabe who will bring shame on this Presidency and worst this nation. Look to Richardson instead and unify this hemisphere in one swoop and take advantage of his administrative and diplomatic skill. If any of the rumors are to be believed, the nations women are more than adequately represented in this administration. If it's about the past campaign, then consider Colin Powell...

Posted by: freesmilesinc | November 20, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Historical comparisons, whether to Lincoln's Seward or Carter's Muskie, are not a valid basis for establishing a rule that political rivals make ineffective or problematic Secretaries of State. Hillary Clinton should not be removed from further consideration because she is a politician.

The fact that Barack Obama possesses an international cachet right now also does not mitigate against selecting Clinton, unless Mr. Ignatius is suggesting that Obama proceed without anyone heading up State.

The problem, if there is one, is not how a Secretary Clinton would interact with leaders abroad, it is how she and her staff would get along with the White House occupants. Until the attempted managing of the appointment news this week, there was not much concern. Now, the prospect of an ongoing Clintonian melodrama looms.

Posted by: SDWalters | November 21, 2008 3:52 AM | Report abuse

There are so many reasons why this is a bad idea. Many have already been well-stated in previous comments. Let us not forget that, even if Senator Clinton is well qualified for the position, at this point in our history, like it or not, it is hardly the wisest decision to give this job to any woman in consideration of the fact that our greatest current diplomatic challenges are in largely misogynistic societies. Also, to appoint the singularly most divisive person in partisan politics today is a disservice to those who supported Obama who would NEVER have voted for Hillary Clinton, and there are a lot of us. Chuck Hagel is qualified and is more in line with Obama's stated Iraq policy than Clinton ever could be.

Posted by: reinadelaz | November 21, 2008 5:57 AM | Report abuse

A marvelous opinion. Let's pray that Obama's campaign team reads this and relays it to him. And let's pray that he makes the right decision, not for the sake of "politics" but rather for the benefit of our country, as he had promised.

Posted by: Formerrepublican | November 21, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I agree also...Mrs. Clinton, I think, is too much of a hawk, which is the last thing we need. Additionally, I think that Secretary of State and the President must be on the same page, always; I don't think Mrs. Clinton would like to be a spokesperson. Finally, she carries this albotross with her (intelligent as he is) that is a potential obstacle.

Posted by: aldering | November 21, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the majority of commenters here. Obviously we didn't woman-bash Hillary enough during the Democratic primaries, because someone her overreach and ambition is again at the forefront.

I applaud David and all the commenters here. Let's keep bashing Hillary until she learns her place in this world of men.

Posted by: briandvdsavage | November 21, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I agree..she isn't the best choice if your thinking about the most qualified...Richardson and Holbrook work for me...but Dave have you thought about this....just look at how much ink Hillary and Bill have generated over this appointmanet...if she is the next Secretary of State...your paper...which hasn't been doing all that well (circulation way down) stands to gain a front page article a week...for the next four years...think of it...another four years of interesting work for the investigative reporters of the WAPO...more drama and trauma from Clintonville...this appointment alone could revive the print media and restore it to the leading public information role that it has lost this past have to look at a Secretary Clinton as a redeemer...the road to financial more layoffs or buyouts at the Post...this is a winner and you shouldn't look this gift horse in the mouth.

Posted by: jermck | November 21, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Hillary is not change I can believe in.

Posted by: Lalady | November 21, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Appointment of Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State signals the continuity of US foreign policy under new administration. This is the reason why it is hailed by republican hawks. There will be no majors changes in US policy, nor could they be, in Middle East (Iran, Palestine-Israel), South and Central America (Bolivia, Columbia, Venezuela), and towards Russia, although minor adjustments are possible. US will still be running the world affairs relying on its military and economic power, client regimes, and in cooperation with Europe.

Posted by: metig | November 21, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

David, you know man like you, why they hate poweful-competent woman like Hillary? know just don't have it, if you know what I mean!!!

Posted by: nsabetus | November 21, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Secretary of State Clinton would be the best thing to happen to the Republican Party this year.

Posted by: JamesPDBuchanan | November 21, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Fortunately for all of us, President Elect Obama's ego is not as threatened as you suggest.
I seriously doubt he has not given a great deal of thought to this position. His decision has nothing to do with egos and who is the bigger celebrity. And Hillary's performance will not be about that same ego.
We are left in perilous times, with everything impacting everything, economy, foreign relations, war, peace, and "egos" is at the bottom of a list of some pretty serious work that needs to get done.
I suppose if one is shielded behind a computer on staff of a major newspaper, one can indulge in all sorts of personal "takes", but, we are grateful that one is not making the hard decisions. None of anything is about "Team of Rivals" or "Ship of Fools", except in the narrow interpretation of some.

Posted by: nana4 | November 21, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

The giveaway phrase " a big, hungry, needy ego" sums up where you are coming from in your opposition to Hillary Clinton as the next SoS. After the obligatory kind words, as a "domestic" advisor, or someother post not being considered, the gist of your article is quite clear. No Clintons, please!

Amazing - one should be able to analyze the worth of an individual civil servant in a given position clearly. Of course Barack Obama was regarded with admiration when he visited overseas; all the more reason that his SoS would be favorably accepted. Not to mention that she was a former First Lady and an able communicator in her own right.

Please try to curb your resistance to certain politicians who have already proven themselves to be able, intelligent and professional in their service to our country.

Posted by: jbleenyc | November 21, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you for all the reasons you have listed and many more that Sen.Clinton will not be the best choice as Secratary of State in President Obama's administration. We need some one who is able to be Prsedident's envoy, in complete sink with war on Iraq, war on terror , Iran, Russia and the Middle East and more. It was very clear during primary elections that Sen. Clinton has differences with President-elect Obama's style and approach in dealing with major foreign policy issues. Sen.Clinton should decide not to accept the offer to serve as Secretary of State.

Posted by: dmfarooq | November 21, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I find the "piling on" by commenters who have nothing useful to say to be the true hubris on this issue. Those of you who happily repeat snide snippets of negativity might try to be a little more honest about both Clintons generally, and about Hillary specifically. Initially, let us remember that prior to the takeover of the American government by the Bush/Cheney cabal, we had just experienced 8 years of peace and prosperity under Bill Clinton. A surplus, imagine that! No terrorist attacks on our soil! The most you Clinton haters could come up with was sex with a groupie. Considering the enormous erosion of civil rights, the fake war, the "outing" of Valerie Plame, Carl Rove, the complete redistribution of the wealth of America to the friends, family and business associates of Bush and Cheney, and the other calumnies too numerous to mention suffered under this administration, the pettiness of the "impeachment" of President Clinton is shown to be the ridiculous poutiness of the overweight, unattractive, unwanted Republican men who were jealous because they were not being chased by young women coming from California to "get their Presidential kneepads," as Monica referred to it. Get over it. His charisma and verbal skills benefitted us all. As for Hillary, let's not forget what might have happened if the primaries of ALL states had counted - who knows who the candidate might have been. Trust me, she is completely qualified for the job Obama holds, and equally so for Secretary of State. Sit back and enjoy the ride - I would be thrilled to have another 8 years of Clinton prosperity. We need it after what the current crowd has wrought.

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

Are the Hillary bashers posting comments here still the teenagers that pretended to be adults during the primaries? Or are you simply adults pretending to be smart-ass teenagers? Obama's victory didn't change the fact that the majority of his supporters are insecure poseurs who can't form an independent thought, as clearly evidenced by this comment section. Have any of you read a single speech made by Hillary in the Senate? How about her speech on the war vote? Have you researched any of her Senate votes or legislative accomplishments? Read any of her writing? She doesn't write about herself like Obama does. She writes about ideas and policy and philosophy. She isn't considered brilliant because the media says so. In fact, the media, like you, tries its best to negate every positive aspect of her life and being. But they can't. And neither can you. You can spout out whatever bile you like. I have zero regard for your opinions or for you.

Posted by: astro3 | November 21, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Mentioning the word 'Clinton' at any time summons forth an intense level of screechy whining in diverse camps; congenital Cliton castigators, right wing mouth frothers, and pointy headed Op-Ed drivelers.. (i.e. MoDo, Iggy, and Zsa Zsa Huffington.)

(The vitriol from MoDo and Zsa Zsa is unreadable dreck. Iggy here is a bit more subtle, but not by much.)

The last time anyone in the Middle East was even close to shaking hands on a peace deal, there was a Clinton there. I think that's where Obama is headed. Hillary is trusted by the saner elements in Israel.

Expect some serious groundwork early on, and if a crack of daylight can be found expect a full court press. No one fits the bill better then Hillary for this. As far as Bill 'meddling' in US Foreign policy, one can only hope.

Posted by: pclement1 | November 22, 2008 2:42 AM | Report abuse

While Bubba sat on the fence until the convention, Hillary was out there every day supporting Obama. It is the second most powerful job in government, a well deserved payback, although having a different foreign policy viewpoint. She is no dummy and will toe the Obama/Biden line for foreign service. I would have preferred her in Reid's job, as national healthcare would have gotten done. She has the ability to make history if she can calm the anti-American views of Islam. Peace in the Holy Land would be something she could accomplish if she goes the Obama/Biden route of concessions from Israel and Palestine. Putting the Dome of the Rock under Palestinean control, I think will solve the existing discord. Palestine want their shrine more than they want the death of Israel.

Posted by: jameschirico | November 22, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

The only thing Hillary and Bill did for Obama on the campaign trail is cause controversy and talk about what they have done to help him. If they were sincerely doing that they wouldn't have to talk about it. There were more questions about where they were, and why they act so strange when they show up. The both of them upset me everytime I saw them. Neither one of them showed any class until about two days before the actual election. I am referring to the speech Bill gave at the very end, probably after seeing how early voting was going and realized that Obama was going to be the next President. The Bill Clinton who gave that speech at the end is the Bill I'm use to seeing, but that is not how he and his wife behaved once the primaries were over. They were the perfect picture of "Sore Losers". Obama should pick John Kerry or Chuck Hagel for this job. Hillary experience is exaggerated, she's no expert, she was just the wife of a beloved President. She is not charming like Bill, she actually comes across as bipolar to me. If Obama picks Hillary as SOS in 4 years he will have the same problem Hillary had campaigning after her Iraq vote. I didn't agree with him about the Leiberman thing, I don't even want Gates to stay, but I can get pass it. BUT Hillary is not a good choice and shouldn't even be being considered. He doesn't owe her anything, and I wish she would just get lost!!!!

Posted by: cabney11 | November 22, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I do not understand the parade of people who claim to admire Hillary, but have so little regard for her that they would prefer the weak-kneed John Kerry, or the intellectually unimpressive Bill Richardson for the top cabinet post.

Hillary earned the complete support of the Senate as a hard working, consiliatory team player. She is almost always the smartest person in the room, and was one of the most talented lawyers around before she became Mrs. Bill. Her resume is enviable.

As our first lady, she went to China in the face of tall odds and argued for womens rights. She also was the only one in Washington to have the guts to go after a health care solution. As a Senator, she was the only one to demand a Pentagon exit strategy.

Has there been even one Senator or one Washington insider that claimed her Senate terms were a partnership between herself and her husband? NO. She doesn't need Bill's guidance or counsel. It is ignorant to think her confirmation as S.O.S. would open the doors for a "buy one, get one free" cabinet position.

If you want to point your poison pens at a Clinton, try Bill. It makes no sense to profess your unabiding love for Bill, then make Hillary the target for your quips. If anything, Hillary has been a victim of her husband, and not the harbinger for the Clinton drama over the years.

It is a done deal. She is in as SOS. Obama can't go back on it, since he leaks everything to the press a week before he decides. What an insane way of courting public opinion.

Posted by: kimba1 | November 24, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Well DI you appeared to have lost this one as have all the Hillary haters out there!! Obama shows his capacity for becoming a great President each suceeding day.

How about Fearless Leader turning into an empty suit when this country needs presidential leadership in the worst way? A "Dubya" hater of the first order, I am still shocked at the way he has caved in this the worst economic crisis, since the Great Depression.

Posted by: adhardwick | November 25, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton can not get elected as senator from NY in 2010. She wants to run for pres in 2012, but it is too early to run now and she has to get some money. BO wants her out of senate now and offers her job as sos. He will fire her by 2012 or she will quit. She will start running for pres in 2012 and BO will quit or get impeached. Biden will be pres. No one will vote for him for pres in 2012. Hillary is in unless the repubs come up with a miracle. Maybe Sarah Palin!

Posted by: annnort | November 25, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

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