It's the hottest rumor in Washington, DC, right now, and sure enough it involves a Clinton. This time, it's not Bill at the center of it, however. It's Hillary, who has been tapped to be Barack Obama's Secretary of State. If she accepts, she will be the third woman ever to hold that position and the third out of four Secretaries of State to be a woman. On the one hand, it certainly shows that we've evolved as a country. But is Hillary a good candidate for this important position?
If you read the title of this blog, you'd know where I stand on this.
Now for the reasons why...
- Does she actually have foreign policy experience? Sure, she's been First Lady and has had Bill's ear on a number of policy initiatives, but that's not the same thing as having actual foreign policy experience. And, no matter how smart she may be, you can't get that kind of experience through osmosis. If Obama wants to get the world to like us again, he'll need someone who can navagate the tricky diplomatic seas. And when you consider Obama thinks Joe Biden has foreign policy experience, I'm thinking his standards are pretty low.
- Women haven't had that great a track record yet. Madeline Albright and Condoleezza Rice have come before Hillary in this venture, and neither one has been particularly impressive. Albright got tricked by Kim Jong Il, for the love of Pete! And Rice? She's been inconsistent at best. Sometimes she acts like she gets the big picture, and sometimes she doesn't. Granted, going from failure to kinda successful is an improvement, but it would put Hillary in a tough spot where failure or near-success isn't an option. She's going to have to succeed to erase the past.
- The Bill Factor. There's no doubt that Bill Clinton is charismatic. Hillary...not so much. Bill is beloved around the world, which would be helpful to an extent. It might get her foot in the door with some world leaders, but it won't make them all play ball. Eventually, Hillary will have to step up and do something without Bill's influence or utilize it in a way that would not make it look like she was using Bill to make up for any shortcomings she might have. Unless he's going to tag along on every diplomatic junket, Hillary might not be able to use Bill's past to better her future.
- How will this fly with Muslim nations? As Albright and Rice would most likely attest, women aren't seen as highly in Muslim countries as they are here. What we consider to be a big stride for women's rights is considered laughable, even disrespectful, in Muslim countries. Imagine putting Hillary in that kind of environment. Hillary doesn't like to be disrespected or lied to, and Muslims won't respect her and will lie to her more than Bill did. Yeah, that'll end well.
- She's a Clinton. In my years of following politics, I have yet to find two more political people than Bill and Hillary Clinton. If you think Hillary's going to turn that side of her personality off, I have a bridge to sell you. And let me tell you, it won't be cheap. Hillary and Obama went at each other hard and heavy during the primaries, and things were said that I guarantee Bill and Hillary remember. They're not the kind to forgive and forget. Just ask Dick Morris. It wouldn't be outside of the realm of possibility that Hillary would undercut Obama if it would mean she got what she wanted. And that's not a good thing for a Secretary of State.
In short, I would hope Obama would think through this decision a bit more if for no other reason than to make good on his promise to restore America's image around the world. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State would not do that, I'm afraid.