Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hillary: A Doppelganger or a Cuckoo?

Doppelganger: A ghostly counterpart of a living person. Cuckoo bird: Lays egg in another bird's nest, and when the cuckoo hatches it takes over the nest.

Thomas Friedman is pondering today in "Madam Secretary?" (NYTimes)

"My question: Is Obama considering Mrs. Clinton for this job in order to get her off his back or as a prelude to protecting her back?"

"That backing is the most important requirement for a secretary of state to be effective. Frankly, Obama could appoint his dear mother-in-law as secretary of state, and if he let the world know she was his envoy, she would be more effective than any ex-ambassador who had no relationship with the president.

"Our current president never cared about this, so neither of his secretaries of state were particularly effective. Rather than having Colin Powell’s back, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld delighted in stabbing Powell in the back, particularly when he was on the road.

"But being close to the president is not enough. Condoleezza Rice had a close relationship with Bush, but Bush had no coherent worldview to animate her diplomacy, so all her travels added up to less than the sum of their miles...

"Foreign leaders can spot daylight between a president and a secretary of state from 1,000 miles away. They know when they’re talking to the secretary of state alone and when they are talking through the secretary of state to the president.....

"My question is whether a President Obama and a Secretary of State Clinton, given all that has gone down between them and their staffs, can have that kind of relationship, particularly with Mrs. Clinton always thinking four to eight years ahead, and the possibility that she may run again for the presidency. I just don’t know."

And don't forget just vain Bill. Bill Clinton famously said during his 1992 presidential campaign that with him you get "two for the price of one." But it's 2008, and Maureen Dowd opines that getting Hillary for Secretary of State means getting "Two for the Price of Two." (NY Times)

Dowd thinks the grumpy hubby will come around if Hillary becomes the Mistress of Foggy Bottom. "At least Bill has the satisfaction of seeing that he has roiled the previously serene and joyous Obamaland. It may be Obama’s very willingness to take the albatross of Bill from around Hillary’s neck and sling it around his own that impresses Bill.

"Obama is overlooking all his cherished dictums against drama and leaking and his lofty vetting standards to try and create a situation where the country can benefit from the talent of the Clintons while curbing their cheesy excesses, like their endless cash flow from foreigners."

But, there is a deep unease with many counting on real change, unconvinced that regardless of their current public posture of support for the Obama White House, the Billary will do only what is best for Billary.

And shadowing about the world as Obama's Doppelganger may not fit into Billary's long-term ambitions.

As Chuck Todd points out today in "First Read".... "HillaryLand seems to be making a concerted effort to start tamping down speculation about the secretary of state job. Reports from the New York Times and Politico are sparking the debate about whether she's 100% ready to make the leap from the Senate and 100% ready to give up politics for a while (at least while at State)...

"Today's Wall Street Journal and the AP confirm that the Obama folks are letting it be known that Bill Clinton is fully cooperating with the vet. So while the Hillary folks use the Times/Politico to signal reluctance, others are using the WSJ/AP to suggest that the momentum is still building for the Clinton appointment to happen."

And that is pure chaotic Clinton conundrum-making style.... fogging the question of a closet-cuckoo Hillary in Obama's cabinet nest in Shakespearean "to be, or not to be" fashion.

Hopefully, not.

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