BethMellor’s Weblog

Postgraduate journalism, news and views.

Hillary Clinton: Absolutely the Right Choice for a Tough Job

with 5 comments

clinton_obama_01072Barack Obama is “on track” to nominate Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, the BBC reported this morning, prompting criticism from a number of commentators.

Times Chief Foreign Commentator Bronwen Maddox, whose work I usually greatly admire, argues in this article that Obama should not appoint Clinton as Secretary of State.

Ms. Maddox admits that Clinton’s experience – particularly her foreign policy experience – mean that she would do a good job as Secretary of State. Moreover, she says that the appointment of Clinton would appease both women and the white working-class voters who backed her, and goes as far as to say that Obama “will need those who wanted Mrs. Clinton.”

However, she believes that Clinton and Obama would not be able to work productively together. She writes: “She wouldn’t flatter him; she wouldn’t really defer to him; she might challenge him.”

But should it be the job of the Secretary of State merely to “flatter” and “defer” to the President?
The best political decisions are reached with the input of competent advisors who are not afraid to question and challenge, rather than from an administration full of yes men. Obama, to his credit, seems to recognize this.

Further criticism of Clinton comes from Gerard Baker in this article. Mr. Baker, like Ms. Maddox, concedes that Clinton is the best-qualified candidate for the job. But he criticizes Clinton for her “unrivalled knack for making politics into very personal theatre.”

This may be the case. But Mr. Baker should recognize that this is in part driven by the media: turning politics into theatre is exactly what his article achieves.

Written by bethmellor

November 21, 2008 at 4:28 pm

5 Responses

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  1. oo12oo

    November 21, 2008 at 6:05 pm

  2. We know now that Hillary will take the position but I’m wondering why you haven’t mentioned Bill and his influence, do you think he was an important consideration for Obama? Surely he will have quite an impact on power relationships within the administration. That is not even to mention the funding of his foundation, which has never been particularly transparent. The New York Times said:

    “Another obvious issue, Democratic lawyers said, would be whether Mr. Clinton’s foundation should accept money from foreign governments, businesses or individuals for the foundation’s philanthropic activities and if it should disclose those donors publicly.”

    He has struggled to do this in the past and came in for lots of criticism over it.


    November 22, 2008 at 10:23 am

  3. Hillary’s appointment as secretary of state is as astute as it is obvious. Obvious because it is an influential position which she both covets and merits and, undoubtedly, the Clinton name opens doors. Astute because it takes her away from the domestic political scene rendering her less likely to be able to steal Obama’s show.

    Rhona Haslewood

    November 23, 2008 at 5:32 pm

  4. Thanks for your comment Michael. The reason I didn’t mention Bill Clinton in my argument is that whilst I recognize he is likely to have an influence, I believe that Hillary Clinton should be judged on her own achievements – not on the dealings, dodgy or otherwise, of her husband.
    I am sure that the Clintons are astute enough not to let the issues surrounding his foundation interfere with her role as Secretary of State.


    November 24, 2008 at 1:07 pm

  5. Considering that during the primary campaign Obama challenged American voters to “ask themselves: who got the single most important foreign policy decision since the end of the Cold War right, and who got it wrong”, it’s a pick that rightly raises questions about whether he is playing politics with policy.

    Obama likes to be challenged, he is not interested in surrounding himself with sycophants as Bush has and does not like people to stay silent if they disagree with concenus opinion. There is no danger of that with Hillary.

    But he will still be da boss and the final word will be his. She will, to borrow a line from the West Wing, serve at the pleasure of the President; I really don’t think she would have left her job for life in the senate if she wasn’t prepared to do so.

    Nick Christian

    November 29, 2008 at 2:49 pm

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