Is there any doubt, in anyone’s mind, that were she not Secretary of State, there would be a desperate cry in the Land of the Democrats for Hillary Clinton to run for president?
It wouldn’t be easy for her. Opposing the nation’s first black president in a primary would have alienated African Americans and drawn charges of Clintonian opportunism.
But the Clinton’s are used to being charged with opportunism. Because they’re opportunists.
And so is President Obama. Is there any serious reason you can think of, other than to make sure he had neutralized his main 2012 primary threat, that Obama made Clinton Secretary of State?
Other than dodging Serb sniper fire, what were her qualifications? Okay, you say, she had no more of a résumé for being Secretary of State than Obama had for the presidency, but that merely makes my point.
Clinton had no notable experience in foreign policy, no academic background in international relations, no grand world view or systematic approach to foreign affairs, and no experience negotiating deals. Her most notable foreign policy achievement of the Clinton presidency was kissing Yasser Arafat’s wife.
I don’t really buy much into the “Team of Rivals” notion that Obama, à la Lincoln, wanted to stock his Cabinet with his antagonists. Seems a trivial reason to give someone the awesome powers for Secretary of State. Even if this played a role, it wasn’t his primary consideration.
Obama, or his first-rate political advisers, understood well that a primary challenge can sink a presidency. Only two presidents have been unseated since Herbert Hoover – Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. Both had to weather serious primary challenges that caused them to expend precious resources and incur damaging criticism even before the opposition Party got started with them.
If Obama had not brought Hillary in, the Democratic Party would have failed to fully unify. Clintonites still nursing wounds from the bruising 2008 primary battle would be ready to turn back to Hillary, who they always thought would have made a better president.
Serious Democrat money would be on the sidelines, waiting to see what Hillary did. Financial sector Democrats, angry about new regulations and tired of being vilified by Obama, would gladly fund her campaign. Jews flummoxed by Obama’s approach to Israel would be ready to back her. Democratic businessmen worried that Obama will use a second term to tax them into smithereens would line up to donate.
With Obama at 40 percent in the polls, the pressure on her to run would be irresistible. Nostalgia for Dear Old Bill, his insatiable appetite for cheating on his wife apparently diminished at last, would be in full bloom.
She may run anyway, but I doubt it. Turning on the man who gave you a chance to set U.S. foreign policy would be seen as towering perfidy.
It’s too Clintonian, even for the Clintons. She’d end her political career as a traitor, and she’d lose. But were she not Secretary of State . . .
Obama doesn’t seem to know much about fighing wars, but he understood well the quote from the great Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu:
“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”