Wednesday, November 19, 2008

For Hillary, the Second Cut May Be the Deepest

An anonymous former adviser to Sen. Hillary Clinton, speaking on the likelihood of her former boss's secretary of state ambitions, told the New York Times this weekend, “I can’t believe they would have her schlep out there with all this publicity unless they were real about it.”

It sounds logical until you consider that president-elect Barack Obama has an exit strategy in the name of Bill Clinton's potentially iffy post-presidential dealings around the world.

Alex Koppelman at the Salon's War Room blog writes that the Clinton's may be using their old, yet ineffective bullying tactics or riding a wave of inevitability into the State Department. That old wave did not quite reach the shores of the Potomac unfortunately

In the meantime, rumors and spin are swirling around whether Clinton is a shoo-in, somewhat interested or merely a trial balloon about to deflate.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that President Clinton is willing to cooperate in the vetting process of his financial dealing around the world and reported that Hillary may have to pay off $7.6 million owed to vendors from her failed presidential campaign before she could accept a place in Obama's administration.

Politico, though, reports that Hillary may not actually want the job and the New York Times published an even more peculiar article pointing toward Clinton withdrawing her name from consideration.

It was unclear if Sen. Clinton’s stated hesitation was part of a bargaining tactic as the Obama team weighs whether to appoint her secretary of state, a genuine moment of indecision or, perhaps, a signal that she was preparing to withdraw from consideration.

Both articles contain remarks about Clinton being "torn" between the cabinet position and finishing her work in the Senate. A bit of political posturing may well be going on between the Clintons and president-elect Obama, which leads to the question of who is next in line?

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) was an early rumor. While his name has not dropped from the rumor mill, it also has not gain much momentum.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has gained a modicum of attention in the last week after taking a meeting with Obama last Friday. During the Democratic primaries, many pundits joked both Richardson and vice president-elect Joe Biden were running – not for president, but for secretary of state.

When Richardson visited the Commonwealth Club of California in June of 2007 to talk about his presidential campaign, he gave some insights into how he would handle foreign affairs. Calling himself a "little rough around the edges," Richardson said that "the essence of governing is diplomacy. It's talking. It's dialogue. It's mediation. It's not, first, seeking a military solution." (See video above.)

Nearly taking a page out of Biden's strategy of splitting Iraq into three separate countries, Richardson said he would use diplomacy to urge the Iraqis to form a coalition government that would split oil revenues. "I would tell them we are going to divide your country into three entities – not three states," Richardson said.

Mimicking Obama's plan to approach hostile nations in the Middle East, Richardson said he would try to find "common ground" with Iran and Syria, while proposing an all-Muslim peace-keeping force in Iraq.

As a former Ambassador to the United Nations under President Clinton, Richardson said he recognizes the usefulness of the U.N., but does not favor using it in issues pertaining to Israel. "I believe there are times when you shouldn't use the U.N. – [for example,] the Israeli-Palestinian issue – they just basically get in the way because Israel is outnumbered," said Richardson.

The prospect of Richardson as secretary of state has some backers and a few detractors, without mentioning the possibility of greatly expanding the rift caused between Richardson and the Clintons over his support for Obama in the primaries.

Robert Guttman, blogging at The Huffington Post, likes Richardson; though he would seem to like anybody but Clinton at State. Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, though, has some really harsh words for Richardson. (Watch the video here.)

Eagleburger slammed Richardson Tuesday on MSNBC, "I don't want to beat everybody to death, but I have very little respect for his intelligence and his knowledge of foreign affairs."

How might Richardson perform as secretary of state? Maybe a bit more aggressive than you might imagine. Click here and here.


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