By Brigitte L. Nacos
I have no idea whether President-elect Barack Obama will offer Senator Hillary Clinton the important secretary of state position. But I am convinced that Hillary would be an excellent choice and indeed the best choice among those mentioned for the post. After Obama and Clinton met on Thursday in Chicago, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, also in the run for the job, met with Obama on Friday. Perhaps John Kerry, another candidate, will be next to travel to Chicago. I agree with Gal Collins of the New York Times that Kerry’s personality is not well suited for the diplomat-in-chief position. Richardson would be a far better choice than Kerry because of his different persona and his diplomatic background (ambassador to the United Nations and negotiator who won the release of prisoners and hostage with North Korea, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and Cuba).
However, there is no doubt in my mind that Senator Clinton is best qualified to be secretary of state from day one of the new administration in terms of the depth of her foreign policy knowledge, her extensive traveling abroad, and her positive image around the globe. President Obama’s victory on November 4th has been hailed in most parts of the world. With Hillary as secretary of state at his side, Mr. Obama’s campaign promise of CHANGE would gain more credibility abroad. Just imagine what a compelling message the image of an African-American U.S. president and a female U.S. secretary of state side by side at an international gathering would send to people here and abroad!
Moreover, by selecting Hillary, the incoming president would take an important step in the direction of those supporters of Senator Clinton who did not vote for him or did so reluctantly. This one important appointment would go a long way in reuniting Hillary’s most faithful fans with the Democratic Party under Obama’s leadership.
This Saturday morning, the Washington Post reports that Clinton, Richardson, and Kerry are top contenders for the attractive position. The fact that Senator Clinton has remained silent and not said that she is not interested seems to indicate that she wants the job. If the president-elect was not sure that she was his first choice before he invited her to Chicago, he should not have arranged a meeting that, as he must have known, would be reported. If he now decides in favor of Richardson or Kerry or someone else, it means snubbing Hillary in full public view. At this point, it would not be terribly credible, if Hillary were to declare that she is not and was not interested in becoming secretary of state.