The Battle For Foggy Bottom

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By Ray LeMoine

Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama, who is reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration, the Guardian has learned.

A British paper getting an unsourced scoop like this has left many scratching their heads. NYMag.com are “skeptical,” but note the Brits do know gossip.

Every other news organization is writing about Bill Clinton’s sketchy dealings. I understand all the controversy surrounding Bill and his world traveling, billionaire hanging out with, money taking from questionable autocrats style. But had Hillary beat Obama it wouldn’t have stopped her from the presidency, and thus makes all this “vetting” mute. Lil Annie Lowrey writes a great piece defending the selection, also in the Guardian:

Today, managing Foggy Bottom means managing a vast bureaucracy prone to infighting, particularly since the rise of the National Security Council, national security adviser and other executive-branch agents. Hillary ran a rocky campaign, so might she falter in dealing with the other entities and people managing American diplomacy, let alone her department?

Hillary ran a good campaign and runs an excellent Senate office. She surely would consult with Obama as to the next national security adviser, and already works well with fellow foreign-policy leader vice-president-elect Biden. She may not have extensive experience managing a massive bureaucracy, but few members of Congress do. More importantly, she surely possesses the leadership skills to criticise her own work and seek excellent managers within State.

Others complain about the choice highlight O’s and Hill’s differences on Iran and Pakistan policy, and point out the Obama campaign disliked Hillary. Politico:

“The specific policy area at issue seems to be one in which the two of them aren’t all that well-aligned,” wrote the liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias.

During the primary, top aides like David Plouffe and Robert Gibbs developed a particular distaste for all things Clinton, one that filtered down through the campaign.

Yes, early during the primaries, Obama said he’d talk to Iran “without preconditions.” And Hillary called him “naive.” But since then Obama’s position has moved closer to Hillary’s. Also, Obama has said he’d unilaterally attack Pakistan, a policy that’s already in place and is failing to halt the Taliban’s comeback. So shifting that position won’t be hard. On Iraq, both want the war to end, blah.

On the second point, let’s remember that Plouffe is likely not coming to DC and Gibbs is a dick. A more important Obama sage, David Axelrod, has worked with Clinton.

And of course the “progressives” are weighing in:

One writer on Daily Kos called Clinton “too centrist, too collaborationist, too accommodating.”

Wait, isn’t that what people said about Obama when he was a state senator? “Progressives” need to wake up and realize they voted for a guy who is to the right of Clinton domestically. Did they really think he wouldn’t possibly edge to the center on foreign policy as well? Not that it matters. Saying Hillary Clinton is “too centrist” on foreign policy forgets that US policy has remained largely the same for both parties since WWII—containment/Wilsonian internationalism—save a brief flirtation with Bush doctrine. If anything, the Clintons’ legacy is that of humanitarian intervention, which succeeded in ending the Balkan wars. 

I must admit being shocked by this whole thing, however. On the Sunday before the election, Hillary wrote an oped in the NYDN saying Obama would bring “all Americans” health care. That’s a distinct shift from the plan Obama had been offering, which would leave 15 million uninsured. I assumed a deal between the Clintons and Obama had been made, but never thought it involved State.

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