For days now rumors are circulating that President Elect Barack Obama is likely to appoint his former rival Senator Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State in an effort to bring together a Lincoln-like government. Leading Republicans have already embraced the idea and called it a smart move. I for one beg to differ, it would be a huge mistake for Obama to appoint Clinton to his cabinet and here is why:
- Barack Obama should carefully work to avoid the image of becoming the third presidency of Bill Clinton. Much of his foreign policy team is already coming from a Clinton background. Susan Rice, for instance, who is likely to become his National Security Advisor was Undersecretary of State in the Clinton Administration and during the presidential campaign many were already wondering whether the change Obama wanted to deliver wasn't a return to square one – the politics of Bill Clinton. That wouldn't be much of a problem if the Clinton legacy in foreign policy would have been a success story, the thing is: it wasn't.
- With Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State one is inevitably led to wonder what Joe Biden will be doing in the next four or eight years and to be honest with a Secretary of State Clinton it probably won't be very much (though that might be a blessing).
- There are simply better candidates: Bill Richardson, now governor of New Mexico, was ambassador the United Nations and a foreign affairs troubleshooter, someone who has extensive experience in talking to rogue regimes. If Obama wants to go ahead with what he promised during the campaign and formulate a new foreign policy and take steps to improve relations with these kind of nations, he would simply be ill-adivsed to appoint Clinton and not Richardson.
- And finally the business dealings of former President Bill Clinton will almost certainly become a liability to the president at some stage, the worst case scenario being that they become a public problem when Obama is preparing to run for a second term.