Bill Clinton takes big step for Hillary’s chances as SecState

posted at 11:15 am on November 20, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

One of the major stumbling blocks to offering Hillary Clinton a Cabinet post, especially State, has been the unanswered question of who donates to Bill Clinton’s foundation.  Ever since establishing it after leaving the White House, the former president has refused to disclose his donors, leading many to question whether any influence-peddling figured into the final days of the Clinton administration.  Now Clinton has agreed to open the books in what looks like a final step for Hillary’s appointment:

Bill Clinton has agreed to a series of concessions requested by officials representing Barack Obama’s presidential transition team, moving his wife one step closer to potentially becoming the next secretary of state.

Aides to both Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said that a formal job offer had not been made, but the former president’s decision to disclose the identities of donors to his charitable foundation and to vet his future speeches and overseas activities with members of the Obama administration appears to have removed some of the biggest hurdles to her nomination.

Obama aides said yesterday that it would be difficult for Sen. Clinton to walk away from the secretary of state post. Obama’s staff has thoroughly vetted both Clintons with the understanding that, if he should make an official job offer, she would accept.

Chalk this one up to the “He’s really serious” category.  After years of refusals, even involving his wife’s bid for the presidency, Clinton has to really want his wife at Foggy Bottom in order to agree to this.  It’s either that or a Supreme Court bid, but Clinton wouldn’t make this agreement without an opening already at hand.

Of course Bill wants to see Hillary land on the Cabinet, especially in the plum role at State; that allows him more relevance and a chance to recover his reputation after a bruising primary left him (unfairly) in the role of race-baiter.  The more pressing question is why Obama wants Hillary at State so badly.  One opinion often expressed is that Obama wants to be seen as a Lincoln of his time, and wants to assemble a Team of Rivals for managing policy.  Whether that policy actually helped Lincoln or burdened him would be debatable; Lincoln’s genius and historical impact doesn’t spring from his Cabinet selections, and the most memorable accomplishment of any of them was “Seward’s Folly” — the purchase of Alaska.

Bringing political rivals onto a team brings obvious conflicts of interest, and one might expect the Clintons to have more Machiavellian impulses than most in that regard.  Why should Obama go out of his way to bring her closer to him?  It’s not as if she’s the most qualified selection.  Bill Richardson, who angered the Clintons by endorsing Obama, has real diplomatic experience, and yet it appears he will get passed over in favor of the Tuzla Dash veteran.

What exactly does Obama gain from adding Hillary?  Is this an LBJ selection of having people in the tent urinating outward rather than the reverse?  Or does he need the Clintons on board so badly to maintain a coalition that can actually govern?  Given the number of Clintonistas appearing in the new administration, I suspect it’s the latter more than the former.

Either way, the fact that Bill’s opening the books makes it clear that Hillary will play a major role in this administration, and that Obama wants to corral Bill as much as possible in advance.  The donor list should make for some interesting blog posts down the road.


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Comments

Obama is a moron if he thinks it will corral Bill in any manner whatsoever. He’ll simply say really inappropriate things at the inappropriate time. Yeah go ahead and block him from giving speeches, the man’s got a $100 Million in the bank, he doesn’t need anymore money.

That said, how delicious is it to watch this unfold knowing that SoS was what Richardson was probably promised as a reward for stabbing Hillary in the back? :D

YellowDawg on November 20, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Axelrod is gonna be jealous when Obummer starts asking Bill how stuff is actually done around here

lodge on November 20, 2008 at 11:20 AM

This is getting more delicious every day. Napolitano for Homeland Security? Geez, ‘The One’? One what?

savvydude on November 20, 2008 at 11:23 AM

Yeah, what sort of transparency do we actually expect? A full public disclosure – or a sham ‘behind the scenes’ disclosure visible only to ‘The Precious’? (God, that’s a good nickname – props to the person who thought it up)

Mr Purple on November 20, 2008 at 11:24 AM

How about this: obama offers and hilary accepts the position of SecState. She resigns her Senate seat. 6 months later, obama fires her.

UnnamedSource on November 20, 2008 at 11:25 AM

So let me get this straight. If you supported Obama during the primary and put your political future at risk (e.g. Richardson), you get nothing. But if you worked for the opposition, you get rewarded. Also, if you supported Obama based on his strong anti-war record, you get rewarded with a hawkish secretary of state and a hawkist (Bush appointed) secretary of defense.

Even with the media in the bag, this is going to be a problem for Obama and the Democrats in 2010. Those supporters who were denied thier rewards will simply not come back for the mid-term elections.

RedSoxNation on November 20, 2008 at 11:25 AM

One of the major stumbling blocks to offering Hillary Clinton a Cabinet post, especially State, has been the unanswered question of who donates to Bill Clinton’s foundation.

Yet, surprizingly, unanswered questions about who donated to Barry remain unanswered.

Vashta.Nerada on November 20, 2008 at 11:27 AM

I think Bambi is in over his head, and just realized it.

He has spent his entire career running for office, and not accomplishing anything… but now, to paraphrase the famous saying… the Buck Stops with HIM!

Watched this happen in the military a lot… as Junior Officers were suddenly forced to make important decisions.

Some step up. Some go authoritarian. Some overly rely on their Senior NCOs. Some dither, and can’t make a decision.

His cabinet choices are all over the board… theres no rhyme no reason I can see. He will NOT be able to control Hillary. Nepalitano will be incompetant at DHS (background in law, but not security, two different things, but she is controllable). Keeping Gates at Defense (competent in important post).

Whole thing looks like he is going to try the “I got bad advice” from experienced people excuse when things go wrong… no buck stoppage there…

Romeo13 on November 20, 2008 at 11:28 AM

I forsee a delicious reprisal of the primary campaign throughout 2009-2010 if she takes this.

Vashta.Nerada on November 20, 2008 at 11:29 AM

But, why does Bubba want His Very Special Lady tied to an administration which will doom her chances for another presidential run? Has he given it up and is now negotiating for a juicy second prize? I really don’t understand his motives, and am not sure Ed’s explanation covers it.

a capella on November 20, 2008 at 11:31 AM

I don’t see it as a problem. No one in the future Obama administration has ever had to answer a tough question.

Tommy_G on November 20, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Step 1. Offer SOS to Hillary
Step 2. Ask Bill to come clean about donations
Step 3. Bill provides list of donors
Step 4. Obama exposes laundry list of illicit donors
Step 5. Obama embarasses both Clintons
Step 6. Obama withdraws nomination of Hillary
Step 7. Obama rid himself once and for all of the Clintons
Step 8. Michelle says, “Thanks sweetie, I owe you one.”

fogw on November 20, 2008 at 11:32 AM

a capella on November 20, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Simple. She can’t run until 2016. She’ll be 70 by then or close to it.

YellowDawg on November 20, 2008 at 11:32 AM

Oh the story is in its infancy. So many things can happen and one for sure already is the mere offer is all over the web news. Limelight. Thats the name of the game with the Clintonistas. If this AG position folds, hey, maybe she’ll do that. She’s on the cabinet list, so heck put her where she can have the most power. Thats all its about.

johnnyU on November 20, 2008 at 11:33 AM

Bill does what Hillary wants…she has the “keys” to his life in her hands…keys is a metaphor.

right2bright on November 20, 2008 at 11:33 AM

So he gets to send Shrillary off to foreign lands where they hate America, and thus risks her life?

Looks like a win/win senario for The One.

DannoJyd on November 20, 2008 at 11:35 AM

You have to wonder how that change is working for the left-wing loons. You have to hope they’re happy getting Hillary to stalk the One.

katiejane on November 20, 2008 at 11:36 AM

Whole thing looks like he is going to try the “I got bad advice” from experienced people excuse when things go wrong… no buck stoppage there…

Romeo13 on November 20, 2008 at 11:28 AM

I feel the same way…I have a feeling that Obama is way over his head, he may be able to “grow” into this job, but he better do it quick or it will eat him alive.
I think the long process of winding your way to the White House normally separates the weak from the strong…this time the process was bypassed.

right2bright on November 20, 2008 at 11:36 AM

OT

Rep. Henry Waxman — a liberal ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi — will take over the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee when the next Congress convenes in January.

Waxman is a liberal California Democrat. In an election among House Democrats, he toppled veteran Michigan Rep. John Dingell from the post. Dingell is the longest-serving member of the House.

RushBaby on November 20, 2008 at 11:41 AM

Rep. Henry Waxman — a liberal ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi — will takeover the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee when the next Congress convenes in January.

Waxman is a liberal California Democrat. In an election among House Democrats, he toppled veteran Michigan Rep. John Dingell from the post. Dingell is the longest-serving member of the House.

Waxman, destroyer of industry.

lodge on November 20, 2008 at 11:43 AM

RushBaby on November 20, 2008 at 11:41 AM

Oh crap….

Romeo13 on November 20, 2008 at 11:43 AM

I have a feeling that Obama is way over his head, he may be able to “grow” into this job, but he better do it quick or it will eat him alive.

right2bright on November 20, 2008 at 11:36 AM

Me too, and frankly I hope he fails badly. It will be painful, but sort of like getting rid of cancer.

Vashta.Nerada on November 20, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Let’s see the list. Honestly, once the list comes out, can we really believe it? The Clinton’s are notorious for cover-ups.

jcheney on November 20, 2008 at 11:45 AM

Waxman, destroyer of industry.
lodge on November 20, 2008 at 11:43 AM

Be optimistic. The more pain the dems cause to the economy over the next two years, the more revenge they will face in November 2010.

Vashta.Nerada on November 20, 2008 at 11:48 AM

Bill and Hillary both have secrets on each other. Why else are they still together? It isn’t the love or the sex that keeps them together. Bill is a devious man, and he has his hands in many illegal affairs. How can he stop doing speeches in other Countries? He already has. Doesn’t that count alone? So all of a sudden, Bill is going to be a good guy? I do think that The One has an agenda. A vengeance towards the both of them. I truly believe he wants Hillary out of the Senate. Her new position won’t last. Both Bill and Hillary will have to leave politics behind them. At least that is what I hope. I sure as hell don’t want to see that Bi**h running for Pres. again! That was the main reason I bailed from the Democratic Party. I was appalled that she was running. And how many fools were behind her. For years I have loathed the Democrats. Glad I am a Republican! Never will go back.

sheebe on November 20, 2008 at 11:51 AM

To quote Dennis Miller,

“This marriage couldn’t be more about convience if there was a Slurpee machine on the end of the bed.”

I’m just sayin…

kingsjester on November 20, 2008 at 11:54 AM

Change!

Kensington on November 20, 2008 at 11:55 AM

This has got to be a charade with an interesting end result. I just don’t see Hillary leaving this earth without laying claim to First Woman (fill in the blank).

sherry on November 20, 2008 at 12:01 PM

Don’t buy the head fake, Ed. Open and Bill Clinton. Nah. This is a public move to make Obama look bad when he doesn’t give Hillary the job.

Angry Dumbo on November 20, 2008 at 12:04 PM

Step 4. Obama exposes laundry list of illicit donors

Step 4. Obama exposesleaks laundry list of illicit donors

…to the staffs of the appropriate Republican Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee. They get to be the bad guys.

The Monster on November 20, 2008 at 12:05 PM

What about Vincent Foster? Suicide? Stolen Documents? That was never proved to be suicide. Was swept under the rug. Many still question that. I for one believe the man was put under against his will. One issue that many Democrats don’t like to remember.

sheebe on November 20, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Bill does what Hillary wants…she has the “keys” to his life in her hands…keys is a metaphor.

right2bright on November 20, 2008 at 11:33 AM

yeah you mean she has him by the giblets.

Obama is just taking up a chair. You don’t actually think he’ll be in charge of anything do you? The LibDems have a puppet in the spot, thats all it is about.

johnnyU on November 20, 2008 at 12:11 PM

You could cut the irony with a knife.

Y-not on November 20, 2008 at 12:16 PM

if only Obama would open up his campaign donation books..

DaveC on November 20, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Hmmm… whats even more intersting is that Hillary gave “loaned” money to her own campaign.

If the paper trail goes back to Foreign money that Bill got, and then she used as community property… it could get legaly interesting.

When does a WAY overpaid “Speech” to a prospective President’s spouse, become a bribe? Or an illegal campaign contribution?

Romeo13 on November 20, 2008 at 12:23 PM

This has got to be a charade with an interesting end result. I just don’t see Hillary leaving this earth without laying claim to First Woman (fill in the blank).

sherry on November 20, 2008 at 12:01 PM

Sec State wouldn’t accomplish this.

Chewy the Lab on November 20, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Clinton has to really want his wife at Foggy Bottom in order to agree to this.

……….. wait a minute, isn’t that Sandy Burger with something in his pants?

Seven Percent Solution on November 20, 2008 at 12:27 PM

Obama is a fool wanting the Clintons in his cabinet …OR… Obama is afraid Hillary is going to run against him in 2012 and wants her locked away in his mess that he will create. Which means he can’t fire her in his first term – well, at least until midway 2011.

And if Hillary does not get picked is all this just a final kick while she is down to the Clintons? First laugh at her because she lost the President nomination and now really rub it in by dangling the Secretary of State to her only to be dumped?
All the time during this process it keeps Bill quiet about complaining about Obama and lets the Obama people in on Bill’s secrets.
Is Obama pulling a Clinton on the Clintons?

albill on November 20, 2008 at 12:27 PM

Chewy the Lab on November 20, 2008 at 12:26 PM

I know, that’s why I am curious as to what she really wants. I don’t see her going gently into that good night.

sherry on November 20, 2008 at 12:31 PM

The donor list should make for some interesting blog posts down the road.

What leads you to believe that the donor list will be made public? As far as I know, there’s no such requirement. Are you counting on leaks?

Paul_in_NJ on November 20, 2008 at 12:41 PM

sherry on November 20, 2008 at 12:31 PM

I agree with you Sherry, I haven’t been able to figure this out myself. It seems nuts to think she’d want to be part of his cabinet.

Chewy the Lab on November 20, 2008 at 12:41 PM

Chewy the Lab on November 20, 2008 at 12:

41 PM

I vascillate between this being a big set-up to attempt to finally diminsh her credibility by the Obama camp OR it’s Obama’s attempt to secure her in a prominent position to be able to garner her followers in the 2012 elections.

It’s turning out to be a bad soap opera.

sherry on November 20, 2008 at 12:46 PM

I don’t get it. Hillary Clinton has power and prestige as a Senator in ways she loses as SECSTATE. She actually for the first time in her pathetic life would be held accountable for something and she’d have to be out there defending somebody else’s policies and political agenda. Staying in the Senate until she goes out toes up (like Kennedy is doing) is much more Clintonian.

With the Clinton’s it’s all about what’s in it for them and Clinton at State is as out of her element as Obama is as President. She just doesn’t have the background in diplomacy to be thought of as anything but a political appointee. Rice, Powell, Albright all had significant experience before taking on the job. Hillary Clinton knows all about “domestic affairs” but she couldn’t find Uzbeckistan on a map with both hands and a flashlight let alone discussing the geostrategic importance of the region.

highhopes on November 20, 2008 at 1:23 PM

It’s turning out to be a bad soap opera.

sherry on November 20, 2008 at 12:46 PM

We definitely are nearing the point where I’m going to start looking for Obama’s evil twin. ;-0

Seriously, this transition period and the sheer randomness of nominees slated to go in key positions is beginning to read like Jimmy Carter’s second term. To put a woman who has absolutely no foreign policy in charge of State makes as much sense as electing a terrorist sypathizing racist socialist as President. I just don’t get it.

highhopes on November 20, 2008 at 1:35 PM

Clinton has to really want his wife at Foggy Bottom in order to agree to this.

Considering Hillary’s tendency to wear pantsuits to hide her ample rear end, something tells me the term “foggy bottom” wouldn’t be used too much.

I just hope she doesn’t cackle us into war somewhere.

highhopes on November 20, 2008 at 1:39 PM

If this gets Shrillary out of the Senate, and if New York’s financial woes hit and it looks like the GOP has a shot at the Albany statehouse, then they may have a shot at the Hill-Bill Senate seat, too.

All to the good.

njcommuter on November 20, 2008 at 3:19 PM