Friday, November 14, 2008

Liberman & Clinton: The Common Thread

What's the common thread for salvaging Joe Liberman and perhaps bringing Hillary Clinton into the Cabinet?  It's clear that Obama understands that old Sun Tzu adage, "keep your friends close and your enemy's closer."  What better way to keep tabs on the renegade and sniping Clinton's than to bring them into the fold.  As for Liberman, a Democratic counterweight to what could become an unhinged Congress with ideological vs. practical goals couldn't hurt.  It's clear once again that Obama's excellent management of his campaign was no accident. They guy gets it.

Chuck Todd makes the case:

From Chuck Todd,  
*** Hillary at State? As we've learned with anything regarding the Clintons, one never knows exactly how serious the speculation might be. But let's assume the news -- reported last night by NBC’s Andrea Mitchell -- that Hillary Clinton is in the mix as a potential Secretary of State is as serious as it appears. (Because if it's not, and her name is being floated only to be rejected, it's going to make her more upset. But we digress…) The best reason for Obama to be looking for a place in his cabinet for Clinton is simple: to get her out of the Senate. Just ask George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter what it was like to have a once or future presidential rival in the Senate serving as a one-person Roman tribunal. Remember how easily the press gravitated to John McCain in '01 or Bob Kerrey in '93 or Ted Kennedy in '77 to allow them to be one-senator judge/juries on Administration proposals? The upside for Obama putting Clinton at State (or even the Pentagon) is that it gets her out of the Senate and gets her out of the domestic policy debates. Also, one other thing to keep in mind if Clinton does end up at State, she'll be off the political circuit; it’s considered unseemly to practice politics while serving in one of the big cabinet posts, especially at State or Defense. So this would mean no more Hillary on the stump for candidates, no more Hillary raising money, no more Hillary collecting chits.

Andrew Sullivan agrees:

Obama has to offer something to Clinton. She's his main threat now and rightly regards part of his victory her doing. The primaries helped him. Left to fester in the Senate, Clinton will plot against the president if he doesn't actively seek her support and engagement and "spread the political wealth" of his mandate. It is a senior enough position not to be fobbed off; it really does take advantage of the Clinton name abroad; it could even put Bill to good use and keep him out of mischief; and Obama has kept telling us that his cabinet model is "Team Of Rivals." Giving Hillary that kind of position is straight out of Lincoln.
Unlike the vice-presidency, a secretary of state has real constitutionally-designated things to do. From Clinton's point of view, it would be a natural position from which to run to succeed Obama in 2016 (or to make an inside push to oust him in 2012). The emergence of Max Baucus as the front senator for healthcare seems to me that Obama might have already been signaling this maneuver. If Clinton isn't the lead player on healthcare, what is she going to do?
So here's hoping he offers and she accepts. It's an elegant and shrewd move; both public spirited and yet coldly calculating at the same time. Pure Obama.