I kid, Hilary, I know we are good friends. But despite my feigned trepidation, as of an hour ago, Mrs. Bill Clinton is now the United States of America's next Secretary of State. The move had been rumored for almost a month. Apparently, President-elect Obama invited his old rival to the Windy City to discuss with her the prospects of the job. Now she has it and presumably a hell of a lot of autonomy to go along with it.
True to his word, Barack Obama has quickly assembled the majority of his Cabinet with Defense Secretary Robert Gates being a thin layer of icing on the cake and Hilary Clinton being the cherry on the top. The Obamamigos (let it be known that on the first of December at 1 at 12:00 in the afternoon, Alec Bojalad trademarked the term "Obamamigos") now have a month and a half to prepare themselves for the tremendous task at hand. But are they the right people? I don't have the political savvy or intimate knowledge of the other Cabinet members to make any lasting or in-depth judgements. To my Prole's eye they mostly seem like "good people", competent enough to fulfill the tasks set out for them and a healthy mix of political beliefs. I don't know enough about the other Cabinet members, but I feel I know Madame Secretary quite well.
Hilary Clinton was nearly a member of every American family for more than a year starting in early 2007. She appeared in our homes via our TV screens, she came to small towns all across the country and she sold herself to us like a.....politician. We knew her from her 8 years as one of the more active First Ladies ever and the Atlantic states knew her from her stint in the New York State Senate and the U.S Senate. For the better part of 16 years, Hilary Clinton has had virtually no privacy. We know how she thinks on every major political issue, thanks to Wikipedia and we know her most embarrassing moments, thanks to Youtube. So I feel no qualms about passing judgement on her appointment to Secretary of State. And thus, judgement will be passed.
Many have expressed an interest in the idea of Barack Obama appointing rivals and others that disagree with his politics to his Cabinet. They point to Lincoln's Cabinet as the paradigm for this (as though Lincoln hired all of John Wilkes Booth's cousins to Cabinet positions). These people will probably point to Hilary Clinton's appointment as an example of Obama's commitment to keeping "yes-men" out of his ear.
But to this, I say: "nay."
In choosing Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama is just upholding political tradition. As history professor James Oaks points out in a New York Times Opinion piece, naming an in-Party rival as Secretary of State has quite a precedent in American politics. To me, the hiring of Hilary Clinton doesn't come across as a calculated decision for the betterment of America, it more feels like a political appeasement. Among many key demographics for the Democrats, Hilary Clinton is still obscenely popular. And regardless of how some people may feel about (probably including Hilary, herself), the Clinton name is synonymous with liberalism and Democratic politics.
Barack Obama more than proved himself to be a candidate that can appeal to both sides of the political spectrum. His victory was decisive and he won over all of America, not just the Blue states plus one electoral vote here or there. But at the end of the day, Barack's tie is always going to be Blue, his entry into the Congressional hall of records will have "Democrat" under his name and he will always be partial to asses (I never pass up an opportunity to substitute "donkey" for "ass"). The Democrats are the Party that helped him get elected and the Democrats are the people he will always have to appeal to. And Hilary Clinton just feels like a bone being thrown for the far left who may have been scandalized by their candidate's nonsense about "bipartisanship."
But that is just what it feels like. Maybe Barack truly believes that Hilary is the right person for the job. Maybe he realized that she already has working relationships with many international diplomats and would make his transition far easier. Maybe Hilary blew him away with her pitch for the job.
All I know now though, is that it all sounds "political."
And "political" sucks.