Hillary Clinton Redux

Over the holidays, a friend of mine with some experience in this business of writing about politics read a blog post I wrote back in November on the possibility of Hillary Clinton being appointed as Secretary of State.  He asked what I meant when I wrote that the appointment might have something to do with curtailing Bill Clinton’s foreign travel and challenged the assertion that the Clinton’s would use the Clinton Global Initiative to conduct a “shadow” foreign policy to the Obama administration.

After all, my friend said, it’s not as if the Clinton Global Initiative had been doing such a thing during the Bush Administration. Why start with Obama?

In reading a clip at The New Republic today, this concept of curtailing the Clinton’s came to me again, but in a new way. Via Politico, TNR asked whether there could be future conflict between Hillary Clinton and HHS-appointee Tom Daschle on health care reform.

As Politico points out, Daschle’s post-Senate career has been dedicated to health care reform.  His book on the subject criticized many of the mechanisms by which the Clinton’s tackled health care in 1993 and 1994 — and his desire to avoid many of the same mistakes this time around.

Perhaps my allegation in November about foreign travel missed the mark.  What if part of the calculus in Clinton’s appointment to State had to do with keeping her at a distance from the discussions and decisions regarding health care?  Not that she wouldn’t come to the debate with older, wiser ideas — but she does wear something of a scarlet letter from her previous work.

In which case, Obama is even more clever than we give him credit for.  While most news outlets were discussing the post-primary career of Hillary Clinton and wondering whether she would get tapped for HHS by Obama or become a lion for health care in the Senate, Obama and his team had quietly decided they would keep her on the other side of the fence, working for them on foreign policy.  At State she’s quite literally unable to dabble in the health care debate at all — she’ll be too busy drawing up peace plans in the Middle East and visiting foreign dignitaries.

A last note: I’m not disparaging Clinton’s foreign policy credentials in the least to make this kind of guess.  If she didn’t have the diplomatic chops Obama never would have appointed her to head up State…

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