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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Diplomacy first

One of the things about a potential Clinton as Sec State appointment is how it will affect the perpetual State Dept vs. Pentagon power balance.

The Bush transition, led by Cheney, did place a powerful figure, Colin Powell, at the head of the State Department, but it also put in a second tier of Rumsfeld/Cheney loyalists at State to guarantee a weakening of Powell. This structure tilted the State Dept vs. Pentagon power structure towards the hawks to a historic degree. (And Cheney et al must have been dancing over the moon when the weak kneed Condi Rice was put in.)

Today, no matter what your opinions of Hillary Clinton, I think you'd be hard pressed to see her getting similarly pushed around in any internal power struggles, especially with Bill Clinton and all their amassed power backing them up.

My point is that a Hillary Clinton appointment is a clear statement that the State Department will once again be writing and designing foreign policy. We'll again be at a position of "Diplomacy first," and the military will once again be a part of policy, not writing it.

(Especially if Gates stays on as Sec Def.)


  • While I don't have a problem with Hillary as SoS (save the drama stuff I commented on earlier) you make a good argument for one of her unique qualifications. There is no doubt she would be a powerful SoS, and I mean that in a good way.

    An SoS appointment would also pull Hillary out of the pigeon hole of domestic issues: healthcare, women, etc. This would be a fresh role for her without the media constantly reflecting back to the failed health care debates of the 1990s

    Bill is still a concern of mine, however. Will foreign leaders, when engaged in discussions with SoS Clinton, wonder if they're dealing with Bill's wife or Obama's SoS? This isn't a sexist comment, I hope you realize. It's a comment on Bill's huge presence on the world stage (as ex-pres, philanthropist, and international businessman/schmoozer), and the fact he just can't stop insinuating himself into American politics.

    I'd be cheering on Hillary as SoS if I could just be sure Bill would SHUT THE HELL UP.

    By Blogger -epm, at 8:39 AM  

  • I've kind of stayed away from the negative politics of pulling Clinton out of the Senate, but it would make healthcare legislation tons easier. Kennedy, the next most profile figure is sure to work with Obama's plan while Clinton would likely be critiquing it and talking about single payer. (Plus, her presence could help Republican opposition because it would serve as a reminder of her past ill guided effort.)

    As for the dueling motivations, that's a real concern. The only solace I can offer is that, if you believe she still harbors future ambition, making the Obama policy work is good for her interests. She's signing up to put her reputation on making the policy work, so, I figure that to a large degree she'll pull the rope the right way.

    (And Bill's not going to shut up, but what he says in the closed rooms will be more important than what I see on my TV.)

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 10:55 AM  

  • If Sen. Clinton takes a cabinet job, is her seat in the senate filled by appointment or special election? I'm guessing appointment, given a Dem gov in NY.

    By Blogger -epm, at 11:25 AM  

  • Yes. I read appointment somewhere.

    And, coming out of NY, they've probably got a nice deep bench of talented pols.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 1:01 PM  

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