Why Might Obama Really Want Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State?

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This is going to be a problem, isn't it? Photo: Getty Images

As we wrote earlier, speculation about Barack Obama tapping former rival Hillary Clinton to join his team as secretary of State is gaining serious momentum. Apparently Obama has already become bored with the presidency and wouldn't mind shaking things up a bit by inviting the drama-prone Clintons back into the White House. Clinton would surely be a capable diplomat whom the world would embrace with open arms. But what else might be behind Obama's thinking — or Clinton's, for that matter?

• Chuck Todd and friends channel Machiavelli, theorizing that Obama's ulterior motive may be getting Hillary out of the Senate where, in the past, former presidential rivals have served as "one-senator judge/juries on Administration proposals." Plus, "she'll be off the political circuit," which means "no more Hillary on the stump for candidates, no more Hillary raising money, no more Hillary collecting chits." [First Read/MSNBC]

• Jonathan Freedland notes that "Obama partly passed over Hillary as V.P. because he didn't want to import the Clinton family psychodrama into his White House," but Hillary as secretary of State will invite the same "back-seat driver implications." However, it'll also "demonstrate great confidence on Obama's part" that he won't be "upstaged by a global celeb such as Hillary." Of course, if he doesn't pick Hillary, "he'd better have a pretty good explanation" or her supporters will be "mad at him all over again." [Guardian UK]

• Steve Benen thinks "Hillary Clinton would be a fine choice," as she's "established international respect and credibility, and she's on a first-name basis with leaders around the world." One risk might be "Bill Clinton's private business work with other countries," which Obama will want to examine "with a fine-tooth comb." [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Marc Ambinder calls Clinton a "formidable nominee despite her primary battles with Obama over the direction and temperament of foreign policy." She's on a "first-name basis with world leaders and generals" and would be "the manager-in-chief of a large government agency, one that has been demoralized during the Bush Administration." Of course, Bill Clinton will have to "disclose details about his private business dealings with other countries" and probably the "donor records for the Clinton Library Foundation." [Atlantic]

• Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller recall that, during the primary, Clinton and Obama clashed on a number of fundamental foreign-policy issues, most notably speaking to rogue leaders without preconditions. Obama's campaign also had "harsh words" about Clinton's foreign-policy experience during the flap over sniper fire in Bosnia, but "no doubt that's water under the bridge." [Political Punch/ABC News]

• Laura Rozen thinks "the appointment might rub some Obama partisans still bitter over the prolonged nomination battle the wrong way," but the "Clintons are revered and familiar faces abroad, the appointment would please her own partisans, and one of the most coveted cabinet jobs would go to a woman." [Mojo/Mother Jones]

• Allahpundit wonders why the Democrats nominated "Hopenchange instead of her if we’re only going to get Clinton retreads anyway?" [Hot Air]

• Mike Allen writes that "officials involved in the discussions" think the move "would create the ultimate 'Team of Rivals' Cabinet." Just the "fact that it is being entertained within [Obama's] camp shows how much things have changed" since the primaries ended. But as president-elect, Obama is now "exceedingly confident" and "therefore the calculation is very different than it was when he was picking a vice president." [Politico]

• Josh Marshall simply cannot comprehend "why Hillary Clinton would want to give up what is in all likelihood a senate seat for life to run the State Department for Barack Obama." This almost certainly isn't an effective "way for Hillary to angle for another shot at the presidency in 2012 or 2016." [Talking Points Memo]

• Rick Klein and Hope Ditto note that Hillary "tends to steal the scenes she's playing in," and proclaim this "the first potential stumbling block for the smooth machine that is President-elect Barack Obama's transition efforts." [Note/ABC News]

• Tim Fernholz tells the Note to calm down a little. "ABC is just being ridiculous — have those writers had a vacation since the primaries?" [Tapped/American Prospect]

Earlier: Obama Advisers Pushing Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State