So it will be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The senator from New York, who lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama because she supported authorizing President Bush to attack Iraq when her rival from Illinois opposed the move, will now be the face of President Obama’s foreign policy.
The final detail of the plan to put Clinton in charge of the State Department — an agreement by former President Bill Clinton to work with the Obama transition team to address potential conflicts of interest arising from his international financial dealings — has been settled. Obama made the announcement Monday morning in Chicago, at a press conference where he confirmed that he’ll retain Defense Secretary Robert Gates and name retired Marine General Jim Jones as his national security adviser, former deputy attorney general Eric Holder as attorney general, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary and Obama campaign foreign-policy aide Susan Rice as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
It was Clinton who stood at Obama’s side.
And the President-elect was as enthusiastic about his selection of the woman who tried to block his way to the Oval Office as he has been about any of his selections — perhaps more so.
Describing Clinton as “an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence,” Obama said, “Hillary’s appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment to renew American diplomacy and restore our alliances. I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our State Department and to work with me in tackling this ambitious foreign policy agenda.”
Is this “change we can believe in”?
Not by any reasonable measure of the term.
But nor is this the end of the world as we know it — even if it could be the end of the illusion that some of Obama’s more romantic enthusiasts entertained with regard to his global view.
Obama and Clinton have never been radically different players when it comes to foreign affairs. In fact, when they served together in the Senate from January, 2005, until this year, they were precisely parallel players. Even when they were trying to distinguish themselves during the race for their party’s presidential nod, they amused serious debate watchers by exchanging “Well, I agree with Hillary” and “I actually agree with Barack” signals. And, of course, they did agree — to such an extent that, after Clinton poked in one debate at Obama for embracing diplomacy she read the polls, realized that everyone agreed with her rival and came into the next debate as an advocate of, um, diplomacy.