Is President-Elect Obama reading Doris Kearn Goodwin’s Team of Rivals or is he watching the boxed set of the seventh season of The West Wing? Why do I ask? Because in one of the final episodes of that show, the President-Elect — a Hispanic Congressman who reportedly was based on an unknown Chicago politician named Obama — asked his defeated Republican opponent to take the position of Secretary of State in his new Cabinet.
The Republican, a senator named Vinick, was older, wiser and had a lot more foreign-policy experience than the TV president-elect — who was practically an unknown before the race. Though the two disagreed during the campaign, the president-elect is shown as wise and self-assured enough to tap into the older candidate’s greater knowledge and broader relationships.
Okay, okay — I know it was just a TV show. But if the offer is really made and Hillary really accepts, there is an uncanny similarity — even though they were rivals during the primaries and not the general election. The fact is, Hillary was probably tougher for Obama to defeat than McCain.
But why would Obama want the Former First Lady in the role? Well, she is scary, isn’t she? She certainly seemed to get Obama off his game in the primary debates more than McCain did in the presidential round. As Secretary of State she could easily play Bad Cop to Obama’s Good Cop on the world stage. And she would probably love it. Yes, American could agree to meet with Ahmadjinejad or Chávez if it would mean those guys would be sitting across from tough-as-nails Hillary. I bet some folks would be willing to order that on pay-per-view.
Hillary would solve another big problem for Obama. As Secretary of State, she would be in control of the two most gaffe-prone senior Democrats, our new Vice President—Elect Joe Biden and her own dearly beloved. By the way, wasn’t Biden picked because of his foreign-policy experience? Yes, he has had a multitude of goofs in that area, which the press conveniently ignored. But I wonder how he is reacting to the talk of Hillary at State. Well, Biden did acknowledge during the campaign that Hillary would have made a better vice-presidential candidate. If he complains to his new boss, I suppose Obama could tell him coolly that he was just trying to rectify the mistake Biden had already pointed out.
And wasn’t there talk of Bill Clinton becoming some kind of official envoy solving the India-Pakistan conflict? Bill, as always, might be a bit of a challenge for our girl. One wonders how she would handle Bill’s messy foreign entanglements. I don’t mean the rumored one with an attractive female Canadian politician but rather that really questionable deal in Kazakhstan that even bothered those perennial Clinton apologists, the New York Times. Perhaps having Hillary in charge would be the best way to keep control of those two.
Why would Hillary want the job? Well, being senator is nice, but she is one of a hundred — and still fairly far down in the pecking order. Though there have been two female Secretaries of State before her, she would be the only one who had also been First Lady and Senator — a hat trick that no other woman has scored. And if Obama picks her it would be a big positive to start his administration — because it would make him look as smart as a character in a television show, and what could be better than that?