Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Madam President

It looks like Hillary is a go for Secretary of State. And the more I think about it, the more I think I was wrong about this move helping her ambitions, because of a key point. The only reason we aren't calling her "President-elect Hillary Clinton" is because of 15 years of press corps hostility. All the stories, the gross misogyny, constant negative attention, distortions, absurd allegations of race baiting -- these were the difference in a razor close campaign.

Now, one of the interesting features of the SecState position is that I can't think of a single Secretary of State who is disliked by many people. Not Kissinger, not Rice, not even the colorless George Schultz. They get in the news when they are flying around the world trying to put out fires, and when they go on those talking head shows they are treated with deference because they are, in many respects, the face of the country to the outside world -- bashing Sec State Hillary is a different ballgame from bashing candidate or Senator Hillary. So Secretary of State gives Hillary a platform from which she can project an image unfiltered by Chris Matthews' Washington. And it gives her a national platform, as opposed to the regional one she has as a New York Senator, or even a New York Governor. If she and Obama are able to achieve some success, particularly in the Middle East -- and I suspect Obama has every intention of doing that -- all the Chris Matthewses in the world would be hard put to continue blackguarding her in 2016.

All that being said, I still think she could do more for the country in the Senate. If all the pull on President Obama comes from the right, that's the direction he's likely to lean in. There is no national figure besides Hillary around whom some kind of left movement could even possibly coalesce. Getting her out of the Senate is good for Obama, good for Hillary, but bad for those of us who don't trust Obama.