If Barack Obama appoints Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state, it will send a cynical message to his supporters: Change is something they can still only hope for. Because if Obama relies on this unqualified Washington insider to fill one of the most important positions in his ‘outsider’ administration, it will represent neither change nor hope, just more of the same.
Instead of "Yes, We Can," Obama will be touting loud and clear, "No, we won’t." A Clinton appointment would replace the audacity of hope with the audacity to shamelessly break campaign promises. As a president without any experience in foreign affairs himself, Obama needs a seasoned partner at State. And Hillary Clinton is definitely not that person — neither in substance nor in style.
Hillary Clinton is the epitome of the entrenched Washington political establishment that Obama so effectively challenged and so thoroughly disdained. That’s what makes her consideration so puzzling. But it’s not just her old politics that should immediately disqualify her. With her out-of-control husband freelancing with foreign governments to raise money for his cronies, his foundation and for speaking fees for himself, the potential for serious conflicts of interest are incalculable and dangerous.
We don’t know precisely what the former president has been up to — it’s all secret. For more than eight years, Bill Clinton has adamantly refused to disclose the fat-cat donors to his library and foundation.
Because of a computer error in the Clinton Library, the New York Sun inadvertently learned that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Dubai the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Morocco have chipped in. But what about other governments or businesses?
Can we actually afford to have a secretary of state whose husband secretly raises money from foreign governments who have strong interests in U.S. foreign policy decisions? That’s what we’d have with the Clintons.
For Obama to choose Hillary would mean that he was ignoring the long overdue and strict ethical and professional standards that he claims will be imposed on all appointees. Or is Hillary going to have a separate standard of her own? A substantially lower one?
Already, it appears that the Obama rule that "if you leak, you’re gone" doesn’t apply to Hillary. Instead of a rogue co-president, Clinton would be a rogue co-secretary of state. And that’s something Obama can’t afford. But aside from being the poster child of the status quo, Hillary is simply not qualified for the job. She has no foreign policy credentials, other than visiting 80 countries as first lady, where she usually toured schools and hospitals with no diplomatic missions. And, of course, we know her assertions about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia and playing an important role in the Irish Peace Process were just fantasies.
Some commentators suggest that the secretary of state position has become a "woman’s" seat and that Hillary is the logical next secretary. But the previous women, Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice, were not ingenues who needed on-the-job training. Both were experienced diplomats with Ph.D.s in their fields.
Hillary had none of this background. She didn’t even have national security clearance at the Clinton White House. Obama needs more than this.
Finally, the colossal leaking by Clinton and her allies of her likely appointment, designed to box the president-elect into a corner, should teach Obama a lesson: The Clintons will try to outflank him on every turn and undermine him when he gets in their way. These are no partners for a new president to have on a world stage.
So is the champion of hope and change going to appoint the woman that he derided as the ultimate apostle of the status quo, whose husband travels the world trailing clouds of conflicts of interest in his wake? Isn’t that just what the old politicians would do?