Foggy Bottom breakdown

The idea of making Susan Rice a Cabinet-level official as UN Ambassador has already begun paying dividends, but to pundits and not President-elect Barack Obama.  The AP reports that Dr. Rice wants her own transition team at the State Department as well as at the UN, angering Hillary Clinton, who has to already be a bit steamed to have an important part of the diplomatic corps outside of her control:

The first sign of cracks in President-elect Barack Obama’s foreign policy team of rivals emerged on Monday as his choices for secretary of state and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations visited the State Department.

As Secretary of State-pick Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.N. envoy-choice Susan Rice separately visited the diplomatic agency’s headquarters in Washington’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, persons familiar with the transition said that Rice wants to install her own transition team inside the department.

Such a move by an incoming U.N. ambassador is rare, if not unprecedented, because the job is based at the United Nations in New York, where Rice already has a small transition staff, the sources familiar with the incoming administration.

In fact, it’s a shot across the bow for Hillary and sets up immediate tension as to who will run foreign policy for Obama in the new administration.  Prior to Obama’s decision, the UN Ambassador fell under the authority of the Secretary of State.  Now it looks like the “team of rivals” approach will wind up splitting American diplomacy, with potentially destructive results.

Obama made a big mistake, and he will have to rectify it quickly.  Otherwise, the resulting feud will reflect badly on the competence of the least-experienced President in at least 100 years.