copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
How do you stop a train that long ago left the station? How might you un-ring a bell that rang weeks months, or even years, before you knew the chord was struck? How can a countryman, or woman rewrite history? How might a Clinton, or two reclaim entrance into the White House? Perhaps, she [or he] has already done what, since Barack Obama secured the Democratic nomination, no one expected. The Clintons have found a way through the front door of the White House prior to 2012. Days ago, President-elect Obama met with Hillary Clinton to discuss her role, and her husband's, in the Oval Office and in international affairs. Senator Clinton emerged as the candidate for Secretary of State.
|While Americans voted for change in 2008, and millions cast aside even the politics of past Democrats, the Clintons included, Barack Obama calculated his choice for this most senior position would be his former antagonist, Hillary Clinton. Some reports say the New York Senator requested time to think. Other accounts suggest the Obama Administration asked only for her thoughts. What might Hillary Clinton wish to pursue. As the hours pass there is one certainty. "Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has engaged three prominent lawyers to help President-elect Barack Obama vet her candidacy for Secretary of State." |
Several within the President Elects inner circle were critical of the possible appointment. Advisers to the former First Lady said nothing is definite. Senator Clinton will weigh whether to take the job if President-elect Obama offers it. Yet, it seems the die has been cast. Senator Clinton and her spouse have secured the powerful position of Secretary of State.
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Breathless with consternation, numerous inquire; is there a way for one small individual to sway a gargantuan group who controls what was and will be our government? Countless fear not. It seems the Clintons will once again control policy, people, and alter the political landscape planet wide.
Momentum builds. A rolling stone, or a rumor, gathers no moss. When a report is not immediately rescinded, we must accept, as frequently occurs, gossip grows into reality. Hence, scores conclude, Hillary Clinton will be the next Secretary of State.
The way is cleared. Only the justifications need to be formalized. Qualms need to be calmed. One cabinet job would put focus on "Two Clintons." That circumstance cannot be corrected, and perhaps, the President-elect would not wish to alter what is. Some say the status of a former Commander, well-connected would benefit the soon-to-be current.
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"He's a former President of the United States. He's been traveling around the world, and he's got his foundation and a lot of foreign policy efforts going on," proclaims Leon Panetta, Bill Clinton's former Chief of Staff. The current Professor of public policy, Mister Panetta pronounces, "What they will have to obviously be careful of are the potential conflicts that might appear."
Conflicts may extend to interests, investments, and the invisible hand of another American widely considered a world leader. In the past, the President may call upon another former United States Chief Executive for advice. He, or she might ask for counsel, or invite the previous President to serve as an envoy. However, if, as proposed, the once Head of State sleeps with and sings sweet nothings in the ear of the current Secretary of State, it may be a challenge for Premiers and Prime Ministers to determine which President presides. A nation in negotiations must be confident; the person they speak with communicates the preferences that take precedence in policy decisions.
Rogues often rise from rolls in the hay. "You want to be able to determine when you are going to make use of a former president in terms of foreign policy or trying to help on particular issues. That can be a very powerful tool if it's used well," Professor Panetta advised. "It has to be used with discretion. Delicate details in an intimate relationship cannot be ignored, particularly when more than passion is at stake. Lives can be lost on the turn of a phrase. A United States President, be his name Bill or Barack, must not forget how much influence he has in and out of the bedroom.
Charles Hill, a Professor at Yale, perceives a possible peril if Hillary Clinton is appointed Secretary of State. The scholar, Hill explained, the former President's constant presence could lead some world leaders to question the authority of the new Commander-In-Chief. As he attempted to digest the dynamics, Charles Hill asserted, "He's got to maintain his stature. He should not want Bill Clinton getting all the ink or Hillary Clinton."
The ink may have already been put to paper and dried. Deeds may be done and decisions made. Hence, Professor Hill's concern for supposed sins may only be academic. Nevertheless, he states, the selection would violate "one of the cardinal rules of foreign policy: "Secretaries of State don't deal with ex-presidents. And if they do, the White House raps their knuckles.""
A slap of the hand, a slight blow to the wrist, a reprimand, or a retort will not change what has been a constant in the life of Hillary Clinton. Bill will not be removed; her resolve will also remain.
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The sensibility expressed by Barack Obama in earlier times is not singular. It has been stated and said again. When an individual associates with the Clintons, direct dialogues are reported to be other than those involved thought the circumstances to be. Some might say, for the Clintons, the shortest distance between an ambition and an accomplishment is often an indistinguishable path.
As an assistant to the Senator, a former 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue aide stated, when First Lady, Hillary Clinton learned how to be effective as a "backdoor diplomat," Now, through her characteristically tough talk, the once Presidential aspirant intends to acquire what might arguably be considered the keys to the second most powerful position in the world.
A few prominent persons at home and abroad may muse Senator Clinton is not the best choice. Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former First Minister of the province might say as he had in March when Senator Clinton and her supporters exaggerated her foreign experience record, this is a "wee bit silly." Nonetheless, Barack Obama never asked the man who truly brought tranquility to his homeland of Hillary Clinton's talents. Had he, he might have heard the tale,
"I don't know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill [Clinton] going around," Lord Trimble reflected. In the Spring of this election year, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient pondered then recent statements about Hillary Clinton being deeply involved. His conclusion was, the rhetoric was "the sort of thing people put in their canvassing leaflets" during elections. "She visited when things were happening, saw what was going on, she can certainly say it was part of her experience. I don't want to rain on the thing for her but being a cheerleader for something is slightly different from being a principal player."
Perhaps, David Trimble is correct. However, Hillary and her adept assistant have capably adopted a different perspective; Senator Clinton mastered "a lot of the intricacies of these issues before ever joining the Senate's Armed Services committee. She's tough; she had meetings with some Prime Ministers and Presidents where she had to deliver some blunt messages for us." Perchance, in the past, the world leader who received most of her brusque communications was her husband Bill.
This appointment would provide her far greater opportunities to be brash with world leaders. As benevolent as Barack Obama may wish to be in his appointments, as Lincolnesque as he longs to be, it may be wise to consider the wars Hillary Clinton welcomes, her words, and President Elect Obama's own experiences of the dynamic duo of Bill and Hill. The actual person, the personality, and the prospect of what Senator Clinton brings to the world stage, may not be as magnificent as the former President-elect Obama, First couple, or their supporters would wish us to believe.
While granted, a team of rivals who work together may be reminiscent of the illustrious words of President Lincoln, "We are not enemies, but friends ... Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection," human emotions may not evoke "the better angels of our nature." People, personas, and the power they seek may have wings, and wants more fragile than a seraph.
Confident in his current role, perhaps, the President Elect forgets. In May 2008, he bellowed, Hillary Clinton has the "bluster" of President Bush. It is she who was ready to obliterate Iran if provoked, or Senator Obama, if he stood in her way.
On ABC's "Good Morning America," Hillary Clinton, not Bill, offered the statement "I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran [if it attacked Israel]." The former Presidential challenger, when she thought she had a chance to sit in the Oval Office and commands said, "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them." Given the opportunity to retract her words, the potential Secretary of State did not.
"Massive retaliation" is the message Hillary Clinton chose to cling to. The then Presidential hopeful did not waver. Hillary Clinton confirmed her truth, reprisals are needed. Talk of diplomacy was for Senator Clinton naive.
Then, the candidate the people chose to govern expressed a divergent thought. Barack Obama emphatically stated, "We have had a foreign policy of bluster and saber-rattling and tough talk, and in the meantime have made a series of strategic decisions that have actually strengthened Iran." Being more sensitive to slights, Mister Obama offered, "[I]t is important that we use language that sends a signal to the world community that we're shifting from the sort of cowboy diplomacy, or lack of diplomacy, that we've seen out of George Bush." In what now appears to be ancient wisdom, the one, or that one that Americans elected to act with restraint affirmed, "[T]his kind of language is not helpful." Tis true!
Barack Obama may wish to recall the rants and rage expressed by Senator Clinton not so long ago. The President-elect might ponder beyond Bill. Hillary Clinton, on her own, now wishes to serve in an alternative capacity. However, as she attested to through words and actions, she is her own master. She will posit her own positions, irregardless of who might be her President, Bill or Barack. Might it be mused, Hillary Rodham Clinton will officiate, cooperate, or obliterate, whatever she may choose.
Post Script . . .
For days, the White House transition team told no tales. They did not confirm hearsay. Nor did they deny the talk. Hillary Clinton was offered a Cabinet position in the Obama Administration. Ultimately, after much speculation, word came down from senior sources unknown. The former First Lady is "under consideration." Hillary Clinton will have to decide whether she wishes to abandon her Senate career and pursue another path.
The signs say she is interested. The smile at a Press Conference as she discussed the possibility, the saucy statements, the legal assistance she provided the transition team, all say 'Sure, I would love to be Secretary of State.'. Hence, countless conclude. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the one, the person who will serve at the pleasure of President-elect Obama, and I can do nothing, but voice my apprehension aloud.
Should Senator Clinton become Secretary of State, America and the world will have to weigh each day what perchance, Barack Obama did not wish to, or thought would not be a problem. Bill and Hillary Clinton are forces not to be underestimated. Negotiations are not their forte. The two favor force and power. Peace is not the prospect they pursue. If this train leaves the station, and the bell rings, no one will be able to look back. The damage will be done. Perhaps, we will live the truth of the words oft cast, "Past is prologue." Woe is me or we.
Sources of Scorn from the possible Secretary of State . . .