Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hillary Redux

It’s time to remind ourselves again that, in contrast to most other “democracies,” our institutions force politicians to betray their constituencies even before they take power. Barack Obama is well on his way: his appointment of Rahm Emanuel as Major Domo and Official Pit Bull (sans lipstick) positively stinks; a bellicose partisan of Wall Street and the Israeli Right will be Obama’s gatekeeper. But bringing Hillary into the new administration is over the top. As I wrote many times in the long ago days of late winter and early spring, if Obama, already running to the center-right of the Democratic base, was good for anything, it was for knocking Hillary out – and sending the Clintons into political oblivion (inasmuch as prison for Bill, though richly deserved, is unlikely). He did knock Hillary out of the race – eventually – but that should only have been the first (and least important) step. Now it’s looking like Obama is intent on bringing the Clintons back in – even to the extent of making Bill’s official wife his Secretary of State.

Needless to say, media speculations can be wrong. They were wrong, it seems, about Sam Nunn and Warren Christopher. Perhaps they are wrong on this too, though they’ve created so much buzz that Hillary’s appointment may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is worrisome too that at least one part of the story they’re telling seems credible: that Obama is impressed by the argument pop historian and talk show stalwart Doris Kearns Goodwin makes in her best-seller Team of Rivals – and therefore that he’d like to do what Lincoln did when he appointed his antagonist, William Seward, Secretary of State. It’s that first time as tragedy (or, in this case, serious mistake), second time as farce thing all over again.

On the plus side, though, at least we know the Secretary of State won’t be Joe Biden -- though, in terms of what counts as “qualifications” in Washington today, Biden is infinitely more qualified than Hillary, whose foreign affairs expertise consists mainly in having visited eighty plus countries, mostly as an official wife (aka First Lady), and, in that capacity, having entertained many an international malefactor (aka World Leader) at the White House.

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